From researching the role and practicing your answers to potential questions, through to calming nerves and prepping for the practicalities, we take you through some essential tips to help you feel ready for your next job interview.

Securing an interview feels good but you’re still a step away from getting that all-important job offer. You need to make sure you present yourself in your best light to stand out from other candidates. But this can feel daunting, especially if it’s your dream job.

So, what’s the secret to a successful interview? Our main tip is to be prepared! Thinking about the practicalities of the interview and giving some consideration to how you will handle the questions can get you ahead of the game and give you the best chance of impressing your potential employer.

We always help our candidates to prep for interviews, briefing on the role and the firm, along with a run-down of common questions to be ready for. In this blog post, we share some of our top tips so you can go into your interview feeling confident.

Our top interview tips

  1. Do your research

It’s essential to research the firm, as this demonstrates you’re invested in them. It also gives you an idea of what to expect in the interview.

Look for general information about the firm and specifics about the team, clients, and services. You can start by checking out their website and social media pages – case studies can give you an idea of clients, projects and priorities. LinkedIn is also useful, as you can use this to find out more about the people at the firm (in particular, the person who is interviewing you).

Don’t forget to look for information from external sources, such as articles or press mentions, and it’s worth checking out industry sources to see if there are any recent developments or changes that you could refer to.

  1. Prep your answers

Think about some likely questions that could come up during the interview. This will help you feel confident and in control of the situation. We’ve put together a list of potential questions and hints on how to answer these at the end of this blog post.

Alongside this, make sure you’ve read the job spec thoroughly, so you know what’s expected of you, and relate your answers to the research you’ve done on the firm and the role. If you’re asked an unexpected question, you can give yourself time to answer by repeating the question or asking for clarification.

  1. Practice makes perfect

It’s always a good idea to rehearse your answers before the interview. This helps you feel confident, and you’ll be less likely to stumble over your words. It doesn’t need to be scripted but make sure you know the key points you want to make. Focus on your body language too, as this communicates you’re interested in the person speaking and engaged with the process.

  1. Think about the practicalities

First impressions count, so think about what you’ll wear, even if the interview is being conducted online. Dressing appropriately can make you feel poised and professional. It’s also important to make a plan for getting to the interview with plenty of time. Have the interviewer’s phone number to hand in case of any unexpected delays or issues.

  1. Calm any nerves

It’s normal to feel nervous before an interview, but there are some things you can do to manage this. Take some deep breaths beforehand to help you relax. Have a sip of water and smile before you start speaking. Speak slowly and clearly, as it’s easy to start gabbling when you’re nervous. Your posture is also essential, so sit up straight, which will help you to breathe properly and look confident.

  1. Don’t forget the finishing touches

Make sure you have some of your own questions to ask at the end of the interview, as this shows you’re interested in the role. Ask about next steps, such as when you can expect to hear back from them. Remember, the interview isn’t over until you’ve left the building or turned off your computer. Finish positively and professionally: thank the interviewer for their time and send a follow-up email to reiterate your interest in the role.

  1. Handling online interviews

It’s much more common these days for your interview to take place online, using a program such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. You may already be familiar with these but, if not, it’s a good idea to have a test call so you know how everything works, such as adjusting audio, turning on the camera and sharing your screen if necessary. Consider where you will set up your computer for the interview so you can concentrate, and be aware of what will be on screen in the background – you can blur the backdrop if you prefer.

Talking to somebody on screen is not quite the same as speaking to them face to face, as it’s harder to gauge body language. Think about non-verbal ways to show you’re engaged with the process when the other person is speaking, such as nodding and smiling (to avoid interrupting their audio). It’s also a lot harder to make eye contact online, so look into your camera as much as possible.

On the day, make sure you log on earlier than you need to, so you have time to deal with any technical issues. It’s also useful to have a pen, notepad and drink of water to hand.

Common interview questions – and how to answer these

  • How much do you know about our business? Do your research!
  • Why are you leaving your current firm? Make sure you keep it positive, such as focusing on career progression and what you like about this particular role/the firm.
  • Why do you want this job? Think about the benefit for the firm – i.e. it’s not just a case that the location is right for you.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? Try to make your weakness a positive – for example, my IT skills have not been great in the past, but I have addressed this by attending an IT course.
  • Walk me through your progression in your current job, leading to what you currently do now on a day-to-day basis. Make it concise, not too long but also with enough detail to showcase your experience, and make sure its relevant.
  • Describe a problem you encountered at your current firm/within your department and how you solved it. Again, the outcome is positive outcome.
  • What do you do outside work? Make yourself interesting…

The STAR method is a useful tool to help you prepare your answers. This stands for:

  • Situation – the situation you had to deal with
  • Task – the task you were given to do
  • Action – the action you took
  • Result – what happened as a result of your action and what you learned

This gives you a framework to keep you on track when giving examples of your experience.

Legal Southwest is here to help

As a specialist legal recruiter, we’re well-placed to help candidates find the right role and prep for interview success. We offer advice on all aspects of legal recruitment in the South West, such as salaries, the legal market and future career opportunities. If you’re still looking for your next position, take a look at our jobs page and email alerts for access to all our advertised vacancies.

Legal Southwest is a specialist legal recruiter, bringing together talented professionals with like-minded organisations. Take a look at our current vacancies or contact us to find out how we can help you.