Interviews are a highly individual path, and no-one can tell you the one right way to approach them. Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way.
- Make a list of all possible questions. Use Google, articles on pupillage interviews, paralegal interview guides and ‘standard’ job interview guides. Don’t stop there – come up with your own questions, as cliché or quirky as you like.
- Answer those questions in advance. Write down an answer for every single question you’ve thought of. Even if you don’t get asked those same questions, your bank of rehearsed answers will serve you extremely well and will prevent you from being caught off guard. And if there’s ever a question you think is too hard to answer, don’t leave it out. Don’t let it be the one that trips you up.
- Collect the evidence. You’ve just finished listing all your best qualities on the application. That’s not enough – you need hard evidence. Know your skills and the evidence for them back and forth: interviewers are likely to ask you about both skills and experiences, and you’ll want to be able to link them up at every opportunity.
- Do you really need cases and legal news? Not all of the time, but when it comes, you had better be prepared. Case law has been both my biggest victory and worst downfall on one or two occasions. Read Legal Loop, Solicitor Journal, Law Gazette, the Guardian, the Times, trawl through Bailii, and anything else you can find. And most importantly: take notes.
What about when you’re in the interview? Case analyses and ethical questions are things you have to inject your own style into, but here are are some ways to improve your manner:
- Bring your CV. Will it make you look professional? Maybe. Will it make you feel more at ease? Probably. But whether you glance at it or not, it could help you to feel a little more confident. After all, every single interviewer in that room has your CV in front of them – why shouldn’t you?
- You are a peer.Be confident about being there. You may be fresh out of your studies with one foot in your parents’ house, but you’re one pupillage away from being the interviewers’ equal. Be humble, but remind yourself that you’re not a defendant in a hearing; you are virtually already a barrister.
- It’s a conversation.This is not cross examination, and it’s not a disciplinary hearing. Questions are not attacks, they are challenges and prompts. Show the panel that you are capable of discussion, rather than just answering their question and waiting for the next. In essence, show them you are an equal.