Interviewing Guide


The Process

Interviewing is not a case of luck or catching people on the right day, it is dependent on preparation, presentation and technique. Candidates quite rightly spend hours perfecting their CVs to make sure that they make the best impression on paper. However, having spent this time, many people spend little or even no time preparing for the interview itself.

The most important part of the recruitment process is still the first interview. This is the time when you make that crucial first impression, providing the momentum that ultimately leads to an offer. We aim to work in partnership with you to achieve your best performance on the day and thereafter at second interview. Our consultants are constantly briefing and debriefing candidates and clients both prior to and following interviews. We are aware of commonly asked questions, the general structure of most meetings and the effect of your responses.

We are recruitment professionals and you should fully utilise our service to ensure success. As part of our commitment to our candidates we can offer you “mock” interviews, detailed information on firms/companies and departments and where possible a guide to the background of the people who will be conducting your interviews together with an idea of their individual styles. Detailed in this guide are examples of frequently asked questions, ideas of questions to ask, and pitfalls to avoid.


Frequently asked questions

1. Why are you seeking to leave your current firm/company?
2. Why in particular are you approaching this firm/department/company?
3. What do you know about our client base/current deals?
4. Give us a snapshot of your career so far?
5. What is it about this area of law that particularly interests you?
6. What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
7. What has been your greatest success at work?
8. What will you miss most about your current job?
9. What changes would you make in your current department/firm/company?
10. What do you find most difficult about your current position?
11. Describe a problem encountered in a transaction/case and how you resolved it?
12. What is the most difficult thing you have ever done/been involved in at work?
13. What have you done that shows initiative in your current position?
14. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
15. What type of people do you work well with/not work well with?
16. How would your boss/colleagues describe you?
17. What motivates you?
18. What are your short/medium/long term goals/Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
19. What are you like at prioritising matters/work?
20. What marketing initiatives have you developed/been actively involved in?
21. What would make you stay in your current position?
22. Who else have you made applications to? Where else are you interviewing?
23. If we were to offer you the position – would you accept?
24. General questions in relation to the legal market/current issues.


Issues for candidate to raise

1. Training courses (internal and external) particularly for junior candidates.
2. Split of work in the current department (contentious and non-contentious, domestic and international).
3. Size of department – check the website/speak to your consultant first for this information
4. Where you would fit in to the current structure of the department.
5. Whether you would work for a number of individuals or mainly report to one.
6. Marketing opportunities within the department/firm.
7. IT set up/precedent base.
8. Senior candidates - partnership issues (i.e. route to, when would receive equity etc).
9. Culture of the department/firm.
10. Expansion plans of the department/firm.
11. How has the vacancy arisen – expansion or replacement?


Competency based interviews

More and more law firms are using competency based interview questions when meeting potential employees.

Competency based interviewing is a technique of behavioural interviewing used to identify behaviours that drive excellence in any role in an organisation. It enables a candidate to demonstrate certain behaviours/skills in the work place by answering questions about how they have dealt with previous work place situations.


Examples of questions may include:

1 Developing Client Relationships

Tell me about the last client function you attended. What was it? Which client invited you? What part did you play at the function?

2 Team-working

Tell me about a time when you had to motivate a team to meet a goal. How did you go about this? What was the team’s reaction? What was the outcome?

3 Tenacity

Tell me about a time when you had to follow a number of routes to solve an issue or problem. What was the situation? What did you do? What was the outcome?

4 Commercial Acumen

Tell me about a time when cost was a factor in solving a problem. What was the issue? What factors did you need to consider? What process did you use to come to your decision? What was the outcome?

5 Initiative

Tell me about a time when you had to use a different approach to solve a problem. What was the issue? How did you approach the task? What was the outcome?

6 Attention to Detail

Tell me about the last case/matter you worked on. How did you check things were accurate? What documentation did you prepare?

7 Stress Tolerance

Tell me about the last time you had to work under pressure. What was the issue? How did you react? How did you ensure that the task was completed? How did you feel? What was the outcome?

8 Communication Skills

Tell me about a time when you have had to keep a number of people informed of progress on a case. What methods did you use to ensure no-one was missed out? How did you keep people informed?


Golden rules

1. Body language and appearance matter (if in doubt go for the “conservative” option), it is important to ensure that you look professional, have a firm hand shake, smile and maintain eye contact with the interviewer(s).
2. Be to the point and answer questions succinctly – don’t ramble.
3. Don’t just answer yes/no – give examples where possible (if you can relate your responses back to past experience, so much the better!).
4. Do your homework regarding the position/the firm/its clients/partner profiles. The web is an ideal starting point to find out this information.
5. Know your CV inside out. Be able to talk succinctly about the technical experience you have gained to date.
6. Never denigrate your present firm/company/colleagues.
7. Always try to phrase answers and portray yourself in a positive light.
8. Acknowledge a company’s strengths/attractions and highlight why joining it would be a good career move for you.
9. Steer away from salary issues and suggest ‘market rate’ if asked.
10. Prepare your referees. It is unlikely they will mention these in the interview but it is better to be prepared.
11. If asked technical questions and you don’t know the answers, never guess. Try to handle the questions as if the interviewer was your client.
12. Employers like confidence not arrogance – be enthusiastic.
13. Always give the impression that you enjoy marketing and client development – employers like candidates who are keen to develop client relationships.
14. Following an interview ensure that you telephone your consultant with feedback as soon as possible. This can often prove to be a crucial part of the process as it greatly assists both your consultant and the employer in reaching a decision and feedback is expected.

FINALLY – GOOD LUCK !!!

Websites

Other websites to look at in preparation for the interview:

www.legal500.com  
www.chambersandpartners.com  
www.thelawyer.com  


Garfield Robbins Legal Recruitment 
24 Greville Street
London EC1N 8SS 
T +44(0) 845 671 0199
E info@garfieldrobbins.com
London and International vacancies updated daily www.garfieldrobbins.com
© Garfield Robbins International UK Limited

Refer a Friend

To receive £400 of vouchers.