Surviving the chambers interview

  • Last updated Aug 11, 2016 4:42:52 PM
  • By Paul Harris, Co-founder & Director, AllAboutLaw

Congrats! You’ve survived the first hurdle of having your application shortlisted. However, now you have to face (and survive!) another crucial milestone: the interview.

What to expect in your chambers interview…

Many chambers split the whole process into several rounds with each interview level becoming progressively harder.

The first round of interviews might involve going over details provided in your application or CV, and any topic of current significance. The latter may not necessarily have anything to do with the law, and is more about giving the interviewers an opportunity to judge your verbal reasoning and communication skills.

The next round is normally more formal, with the interview being conducted by a panel of members from the chamber. You might be given a simulated case study or contentious matter, either a few days before the interview to prepare or sometimes even as late as an hour before. This will always be a legal matter and the panel will be judging your abilities as a potential barrister.

The process may resemble a mock court proceeding both in content and in the manner by which it is conducted. The aim here is to appraise your capabilities in presenting opinions or arguments. The manner in which you convey your arguments, your general composure and the degree of conviction you can bring to your responses will be a massive factor in their decision. 

How to prepare for your chambers interview…

Before the day of the interview, make sure that you prepare thoroughly, brushing up on your information about the chamber and its members, recent case histories, areas of expertise, etc. This should be in-depth and detailed information, proving to the panel how meticulously you’ve done your homework, since it will be an indicator of the kind of effort and preparation you will put in once you start practising. 

Anticipate the kind of questions you might be asked. Details provided in your CV or application form are founts of information from which the panel can draw many conclusions and ask you questions, not all of which will be conventional or generic.

During your chambers interview

On the day of the interview, arrive ahead of time, dress formally and portray confidence and composure with your posture and body language. Making steady eye contact and polite greetings to all panel members will be the first impression you will make at the interview. 

Before responding to questions, take the time to gather and formulate your thoughts, speaking slowly and articulately. If you are sure of your argument or opinion, hold firm and convince the panel of your viewpoint. However, it is equally important to admit that there can be other sides to the argument.

It is vital that you do not needlessly backtrack or be cowed by the pressure and aggression being directed towards you; these are methods to assess your adaptability and personality in times of stress.

Other than that, relax and try to enjoy the process! That’s easy for us to say, right?! However, if you keep a level head and take things slowly and surely, you’ll be sure to relish the challenges that the interview brings and come out with a smile on your face. Good luck!

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