Good news – you’ve been invited to a pupillage interview! This page details our top tips on preparing for this nerve-racking ordeal from revisiting your pupillage application and CV to addressing legal problems in front of a panel.
How Can I Prepare for My Pupillage Interview?
The recruiting board and interview panel at the chambers shortlist a small number of applicants for interview from February – April. They are usually interviewing for just one or two pupillages, which makes the preparation for and execution of your interviews crucial. Read on for advice to help you get ahead of the competition.
Memorise Your Application/CV
In preparing for your pupillage interviews, make sure that you know the ins and outs of your application and/or CV and covering letter. The answers you gave in your pupillage application might be questioned, so be ready to explain in person your answers for:
- Why you chose the chambers
- Why you want to be a barrister
- What attracts you to the practice area the chambers specialises in
- Why you think you will make a good barrister
- How you think your work experience, such as mini-pupillages and extra-curricular activities have prepared you for the role
Research the Chambers
Make sure you’ve researched the chambers you apply to thoroughly. Get familiar with its practice areas and look into the cases the chambers has covered or may be working on.
It’s important to demonstrate that you want to train to be a barrister at that chambers in particular, so being able to talk accurately about it at interviews is essential.
Pupillage Interview Tasks
In your pupillage interview, you are likely to be given some of the following exercises which will test the skills necessary to become a barrister:
Addressing a legal problem
You may have to talk the panel through how you would address a hypothetical situation, and how you might go about advising your client. The key to impressing interviewers here is:
To show your capabilities of identifying the problem, considering the resolutions, and constructing and presenting your argument
To present your suggestions clearly, confidently and coherently
To think aloud when solving the problem question. Interviewers want to hear your thought process, and evaluate whether you can argue both sides of an argument
Since being a barrister requires a high level of advocacy, it is crucial to present yourself coherently, and articulately. In an advocacy exercise, you’ll have to place yourself in an imaginary courtroom situation and argue your client’s case, whether that’s during an appeal, presenting a plea in mitigation, a bail application or any other relevant scenario.
Be prepared to give a presentation during a pupillage interview. Some chambers will ask you to do this with or without advance notice. To give yourself the best possible chance of success, make sure you brush up on your current affairs knowledge and/or commercial awareness beforehand.
When preparing your presentation (whether that’s at home a day in advance or at the chambers on the day of your interview), think of questions that might possibly come up and make sure you can answer them.
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Another possible pupillage interview task you might be faced with is a debate exercise. For example, your interviewer might say: “Make the best case you can for assisted suicide”. These assessments test advocacy skills again and whether the candidate can make a case coherently and react well when confronted with counter-arguments.
It’s important to be flexible during this exercise because after you have finished your answer, the panel will often ask you to argue for the opposite point of view.
There is no set formula for how to prepare these questions, however, two common techniques that debaters use are as follows. First, ‘stakeholder analysis’: consider the different interest groups that might be affected by the subject of the debate. Second, think about producing one economic, one social and one political argument to support your point of view.
These techniques can help to give structure and clarity to your answer. Finally, an awareness of current affairs is useful as the question often arises from something that has been in the news.
These questions will present you with a fictional set of facts, which include an ethical dilemma, and ask you how you would react in that scenario. The facts can vary widely but the advice remains the same: be sensible and, if in any doubt, err on the side of caution. Do not try to find some clever analysis of the situation; this is a test of pragmatism.
Pupillage Interview Tips
When the day of your pupillage interview arrives, make sure:
- You look professional. First impressions count, so make sure you’re dressed appropriately in smart office attire. Looking professional shows you understand how important the opportunity is
- You are polite and friendly to the staff and clerks in the chambers
- Have a list of questions about the chambers ready but make sure none of the answers can be found easily with a quick Google search
- You’ve checked our guide for pupillage interview questions that might come up
As you now know, the types of pupillage interview tasks and the skills tested vary. So it’s critical that you do as much research as possible on the different chambers and find out what you are likely to be asked in each interview. This will allow you to prepare effectively. Chambers’ websites and pupillage policy documents are useful resources for this.
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