Nov 28, 2018

Written By Becky Kells, Editor, AllAboutLaw

What to expect from your NQ interview

Nov 28, 2018

Written By Becky Kells, Editor, AllAboutLaw

So you’ve fully prepared for your NQ interview, now all that’s left to conquer is the big day itself. However nervous (or not!) you may be, it’s always good to know what to expect. Here’s our guide to the type of things you can expect to be asked about at your NQ interview. Best of luck!

Achievements

Hey, you didn’t spend all that time compiling your achievements for nothing. This is your chance to speak about any commendations or positive outcomes you’ve been responsible for in your current role. Perhaps you led a small team on a project or case in one of your seats, or maybe you successfully liaised with a client over a difficult matter. Whatever you’ve written on your CV, be prepared to chat about it now. When speaking about achievements, you might feel slightly uncomfortable, so it’s important to be objective and confident - don’t shy away from the things you’ve done well. Use lots of active verbs, like “I drafted”, “I created”, “I led”, rather than sinking into the passive voice. Having said that, if you’re overconfident or boastful, it probably won’t go down very well - strike the balance, and rather than bigging yourself up without evidence, try to make links between personal achievements and the wider benefits they’ve brought to your career development.

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Strengths and weaknesses

Your strengths and weaknesses go hand-in-hand with your achievements, and quite often, when you speak about a personal strength, you’ll touch on an achievement as an example. It’s good to have practical examples that support your strengths. It might be helpful to link potential strengths to the opportunity you’re interviewing for - if you’re a swift negotiator who can keep their cool when dealing with sensitive matters, that’s perfectly applicable to a role in a family law department, for example. Talking about your weaknesses might seem a bit absurd, and it can make some people squirm - but rather than seeking to humiliate you, the interviewer is likely to see how well you handle difficult questions and think on your feet. Don’t claim that you have no weaknesses - identify a professional weakness, and then go on to explain how you feel you’ve worked on it over the course of your training contract or career. Interviewers know that you’re not perfect - they want to see that you’ve got the ability to analyse your skills and make positive changes where necessary.

Career future… and past

This is bound to crop up at some point - the age-old question, “where do you see yourself in five years time”, may be a cliche, but it’s used with good reason. Talking about your desired future career is a great chance to convey your specific career interests to your potential future employer. It’s also a chance to showcase your drive and aspiration for law. The interviewer is also likely to be interested in where your drive has originated from - if you can pinpoint a certain seat or module at university that has inspired you, they’ll be able to map out your career development - and see how well the role would equip you for your future.

Read between the lines!

As well as your answers to their questions, the interviewer is going to be paying close attention to your demeanour, behaviour and presentation throughout the interview. It goes without saying that you should be dressed appropriately, and should observe good social conduct - however nervous you are, try to maintain eye contact. It’s also important to stay focused - this interview is almost like a test run for future client meetings, where you might have to answer and ask difficult questions. The poise you show whilst doing this are just as important as what you’re saying in the interview.

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