Preparing for an interview

The best way to feel confident and calm any nerves before an interview is to prepare thoroughly. If you go into the interview knowing that you have a good grasp of the company, the job and your own abilities, you will be able to answer any questions thrown at you during the interview in a clear and well-informed manner.

  • Last updated Aug 14, 2019 4:29:15 PM
  • By Alison Collins and Tuula Petersen

Do your research

The employer, reasonably enough, is going to expect you to have some understanding of what they do, who their competitors are, what new projects they have recently started or are due to start, etc.  

Your first port of call should be to browse the company’s website. Here, you will find information concerning their latest projects and any future endeavours. Another option would be to ask anyone who works in the company directly about any information you cannot find online. This would prove to be particularly helpful if you happen to know someone who works in the company. Make sure to scroll through the companies various social media outlets to pick out any further information and to read their press releases. 

It is important to develop a comprehensive understanding of the legal sector as a whole before attending your interview. Keeping up to date with legal stories, developing your commercial awareness and regularly following websites such as the Law Society will ensure you are able to position the company within a wider context of current affairs.

Aim to pre-empt any possible questions

A helpful tip to discern any likely interview questions is to read over the job description and person specification beforehand. Take note of the different activities you will be expected to carry out and look through your previous experiences to establish any correlations.  

It is always a good idea to read through your application form and your CV before an interview to refresh your memory and ensure you are well prepared to answer any questions about any past experiences.

Typical interview questions that are worth thinking about prior to the interview include “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”, “Why do you want this job?” and “What can you bring to this role?”

Illustrating your skills with specific examples

Many employers now use a competency-based style of interviewing.  This means they will ask you to describe an instance in which you demonstrated a particular skill. 

In order to determine what skills the interviewer is likely to quiz you on, make sure to check the job description. Think how best you can demonstrate a particular skill in the context of your previous experience. For instance, you may have demonstrated leadership skills when you were captain of a sports team, or shown team-working skills in your part-time job in a shop. The context of the example is less important than how you explain it: be clear and concise about what you did and how it demonstrates the skill.

Prepare questions to ask during the interview

An interview is a two-way process and it should be an opportunity for you to ask the employer some questions to assess whether or not you are interested in the job and the company. Many employers report that applicants do not have any questions for them at the end of the interview, which can make the applicant look like they are not very interested in the job. 

Typical questions might include:

Are there any training and development prospects?

What upcoming projects might I be able to get involved in?

What is the structure of the team?

Try and avoid questions about salary, holidays, benefits, etc, as this may make the employer think you’re not really interested in the job, just the wage!

Final preparations

To help you feel more confident, there are a number of simple things you can do.

Decide what you’re going to wear in advance and make sure it is clean and ironed. Rushing about on the morning of an interview trying to find a clean shirt can put you in an unnecessary and avoidable panic on the day of the interview!

Plan your route so that you know exactly where you’re going and how to get there. It can be a good idea to do a “dummy run” in advance. Make sure to leave extra time for any unexpected eventualities.

Another useful tip is to prepare all the necessary documents the night before. The employer may ask you to bring ID, your CV or certificates.

Finally, get a good night’s sleep prior to the interview.

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