Telephone training contract interviews are frequently used as a way of initially whittling down candidate numbers. As such, interviews tend to be shorter as compared with face to face interviews. That being said, it is vital NOT to skimp on preparation for this type of training contract interview. Thorough research and preparation are vital at this early stage in the process.
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Building Rapport During your Training Contract Telephone Interview
Unlike face to face interviews and Skype-based online interviews, you will not be able to physically see your interviewer in a training contract telephone interview. This arguably creates more of a challenge in terms of building rapport.
As a result, it’s important to think about alternative techniques you can use to create a positive connection between yourself and your interviewer during your training contract telephone interview.
These may include:
Establishing whether there is any common ground between you and the interviewer which can be used in a way to positively engage with them.
Smiling! Even though your interviewer won’t be able to see you, smiling will help to relax you. This will help you to feel and come across in a more confident and responsive manner during the interview.
Keeping notes to a minimum. Do take advantage of being able to have notes available, but limit them to a page so you are not distracted by reams of paper during the interview. Such distraction is likely to interrupt conversation flow, thereby eroding the rapport.
Training Contract Interview Questions to prepare for
There are some questions that most interviewers will ask you if you’re applying for a training contract. These are also the trickier questions that may appear as a hurdle but actually offer you the chance to think on your feet and stand out. Here are a few questions to consider before your interview:
Why have you applied to this firm? – If you’ve applied to a particular firm, it’s good to show you’ve done your research and that you understand what makes them unique in their approach to legal practice. Have a look on the website and see what makes the firm different from its competitors. Keep an eye on legal news too, so that you mention any deals they might have been involved with recently.
What news story has caught your eye recently? – This is a chance for you to demonstrate your commercial awareness. You might not be explicitly asked about your opinion on Brexit but you could mention it and link it to news about a specific company the firm might have previously worked with.
What other firms have you applied to? – This question isn’t designed to catch you out. Interviewers often ask this to ensure that you’re applying for firms with similar interests in mind. It’s no good hiring someone for a commercial law firm, if they’re really interested in human rights but this was the only interview they could get!
Tell me about a time you’ve had to work as part of a team – Use the STAR format to answer these types of questions and you should impress the interviewer. It stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Therefore, you would identify a time when you’ve had to work as a team, explain what the situation you were tasked with was, describe the action you took individually and collectively and then reveal the result of your team work. It’s effective as it’s a clearly organised approach to answering questions that interviewers tend to prefer.
Tell us about a time you’ve failed – A good answer to this question will require you to discuss something you’ve done before that might not have worked very well. You should focus on what you would do differently next time and what you’ve learnt from it, as this will demonstrate your positive mindset.
When the day of your training contract telephone interview finally arrives, here are our top tips to do well:
Find a quiet area where you will not be disrupted.
Have your application form/CV and a few brief notes to hand should you need to refer to them.
Speak clearly and concisely – after all, you only have your voice to rely on!
Pause to consider questions before diving in with a response. The interviewer will expect and appreciate this
Think of a few questions to ask the interviewer. Doing this will show that you’re interested in the company and the work they do.
Round off the telephone interview in a positive and constructive manner, thanking the interviewer for their time.
Don’t approach the call with a negative mindset and feel daunted by it. Think of it as a discussion about your future with someone who wants to help and see you do well as a trainee, because that’s what any good law firm will do if you’re successful in the interviews.