Talking Trainees

Essential interview know-how: Your brand

Posted on 14 June 2018

iStock-626774968-109499-editedReputation, credibility and character; three defining pillars of any law firm, which amass to form the one thing that can make or break it; its brand. Like a law firm, your own personal brand is an essential marketing tool. This blog gives some food for thought as to how to approach the ultimate interview question – why you?

What’s your story?

Take some time to think about your journey – what sequence of events has led you to apply to this particular law firm? For instance, playing a sport, a part-time job or volunteering may have contributed to your decision to pursue a career in law. Whilst legal experience may help you justify your wish to apply for a training contract, non-legal experiences should not be dismissed either. After all, the training contract is designed to provide you with the legal experience you need, but it can’t teach you to have the requisite values that make the firm tick. These can be drawn out and demonstrated through your own personal experiences, helping to set yourself apart from the crowd in an interview scenario.

Know your strengths

Self-reflect on what your strengths and passions are in light of the firm’s key competences and be prepared to support your views. If you enjoy the challenge of solving a problem, prepare a recent example of how you’ve thought creatively to resolve an issue. If your strength lies in being able coordinate a team, show how you’ve specifically gone the extra mile in adverse circumstances to ensure the team still performs. It may be a good idea to hone down on three to five evidenced strengths. Not only does this work as a great confidence booster, but it is also good preparation to help you to be able to demonstrate what you can bring to the table.

Positive spins

Everyone goes through blip periods, whether that is an exam result that you’re not too proud of or an unfavourable gap in your employment history. If you’ve spent years studying a completely different practice to law or worked in different industry for a long period of time, you may be bracing yourself to be asked about the elephant in the room. The key to dealing with these tricky questions is to embrace them and put a positive spin on the situation – what did you learn from the experience and how has this contributed to strengthening your overall brand? Maybe a wrong move reinforced your decision that law is your calling, or that exam result taught you an invaluable lesson. These factors combine to demonstrate what’s unique about you but also show how you are able to adapt and learn from your experiences.

It’s pivotal that you prepare for competency based questions before an interview, but you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of giving some thought as to why you’re there in the first instance, and more importantly, why you should be offered the training contract.

Parmjit Lal

Written by Parmjit Lal

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