Job searching can be challenging at any stage of your career. That’s why, for those looking to pursue a career in law, it’s essential to gain an understanding of the common legal industry interview questions and how you can answer them successfully.
It pays to be prepared
Remember, no matter how many interviews you have under your belt, you’ll probably find that they are always going to be a nerve-racking experience. So, preparing yourself for interviews is the best way to relieve some stress and anxiety.
By practising the most common questions ahead of the interview, you can put yourself in the best possible position to succeed. It pays to be prepared. Remember, you will encounter a wide variety of questions during the interview process in the legal industry. From questions around the firm, your experience, your interest in the law and wider skills. To help you take the next steps in your career, here are five of the most common interview questions and how to answer them.
What made you want to become a solicitor?
This is an extremely common question but can take candidates by surprise. So, come prepared. This is your chance to stand out from the other applicants, to demonstrate why you are the best possible person for the role or organisation and how important it is to you. Some example points to include:
- “I believe that being a solicitor/lawyer is more than filing paperwork with the court—it’s a chance to represent someone who needs help”.
- “I want to practice law because I am passionate about bringing justice to clients and upholding the law of our country”.
Remember to link any answer back to the firm you are applying to. For example, if they specialise in a particular area of law, use this as a frame of reference. Get familiar with a firm’s website and latest news before the interview as it will offer vital information about the business and the sectors in operatives within. If you have any experience in this area, make sure to reference it. Offer details where you can and demonstrate how you have pursued a career in this area of law.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
The interviewer is asking you to demonstrate your career aspirations here. Being ambitious is a positive trait in the legal industry and something firms will look for in their candidates. So, ask yourself questions such as – who would you like to represent? What role do you aspire to be working in? Validate this answer by evidencing how you plan to achieve this. You can do so by writing three goals. An example of this may include:
- Represent the firm in press briefings and interviews.
- Serve clients with high quality and superior knowledge to fulfil the role with expert defence and high ethical consideration.
- Be able to confidently argue a compelling case within the courthouse.
You can also use this as an opportunity to ask the interviewer how the firm can support you. This will allow you both to understand if your expectations align.
Tell me about your experience within the legal industry?
This is your opportunity to demonstrate your experience in the legal sector. Highlight any work experience you have completed, and this can be anything that relates to the sector in which you are applying for. It is important to remember that your relevant experience should be noted on your CV, so building on this during your interview is important. Therefore, you can consider the following points:
- The roles you’ve undertaken and what duties you carried out
- Overcoming difficult situations – what skills were utilised?
- How has this experience shaped the professional you are today?
Most importantly, relate this to the position you are applying for. Consider how this experience is relevant to the firm you are interviewing with and showcase how this gave you an insight into the reality of working within a law firm/ law-focused role.
Give examples of the issues impacting law firms?
The question intends to understand your industry knowledge and to determine your awareness of current trends and issues within the sector. By demonstrating your understanding, you can provide more informed responses to interview questions. But if successful, it will also support your position within the firm and client relations.
For example, recent research from the Law Society stresses the impact that COVID-19 has had on law firms as many pivoted to home-working practices and had to respond quickly to evolving client demands. For lawyers, the pandemic has had an impact on morale and wellbeing, which has got worse as lockdown continued. However, it has also brought positive changes to the industry, seeing city firms continue with home working practices, Technological skills have also become more important than ever thanks to heavy reliance on tech during this time.
By showcasing that you understand current issues and how these may impact you and the firm, you are showcasing your knowledge and critical thinking.
How would you stand out within our firm?
Here, it is important to emphasise the skills, qualities and experience that separates you from other applicants. For instance, employers will look at personal skills and any development taken in this area, particularly if you’re interviewing for a client-facing role. This may include presenting with confidence which will help to project your court arguments, any techniques you utilise, and wider skills that you have that will bolster your position in the courtroom. However, don’t just use buzz words. Give valid examples to demonstrate your qualities and skills in action.
We would also recommend expressing a willingness to learn. If you’re on your qualification journey, perhaps as an SQE candidate, being open to learning wider skills is an attractive quality and shows that you are willing to go above and beyond what’s required to simply qualify. This is one of the reasons why we offer the Prep for Practice programme at BARBRI. Plus accepting that there is always more learning to be done will provide an opportunity for growth within the firm.
Presenting your best self during an interview
Now that you have an understanding of some key questions you may be asked, we also wanted to share some additional interview advice. Before your interview, take the time to think about how you want to present yourself. Here are some tips to help you put yourself in the best possible position before your interview:
Familiarise yourself with the firm and recent court rulings
This will help showcase your research skills and knowledge of the sector and organisation, while demonstrating that you have gone the extra mile. This can also provide a good platform to answer some questions you may be asked during the interview. By displaying a general interest in the company, you are exhibiting your professionalism and enthusiasm, which may help during the selection process.
Prepare some questions for the interviewer
Do not feel pressured into thinking, “the more questions, the better.” This is simply not the case. It is about quality rather than quantity.
Some things to avoid:
- Questions regarding salary, unless the interviewer raises the topic themselves. It can negatively impact how the interviewer perceives your interest and dedication to the role.
- Personal questions about the interviewer can be seen as unprofessional and inappropriate. Instead, you may consider asking, “are you able to tell me your greatest achievement while working here?” or “How would you describe the overall culture of the company?”.
Asking the right questions will help to make a positive first impression and will give you an understanding of your role within the firm should your application be successful.