How to Stand Out From the Rest When Interviewing
This is not a list of dos and don’ts, but more a guide to making the right impression. Most, if not all legal industry professionals are aware that the market is candidate short. Although good private practice experience is few and far between, it does not mean interviewing well is not a factor. Standing out for the right reasons and not the wrong ones is key. First impressions are everything.
Due to the urgency in the market in the current climate, often the first interview is the only interview. In these cases, the initial interview is your only opportunity to impress. These interviews are producing offers (and fast), so it’s important to note the best ways to stand out.
Highlight your soft skills
Especially for senior level appointments, experience is a given. Beyond what is listed on your CV, the firm want to know who you are. How do you manage change, high pressure situations and overcome difficulties? Emphasising your ability to collaborate and work effectively in a team environment is vital.
It is becoming more apparent that firms are acutely aware of their organisational culture and how this directly affects other employees. The right culture fit is a necessity and touching on your soft skills can highlight this. Your experience is important, but it is not a trump card.
Interview the whole time
The interview starts the minute you enter the building. It starts with the receptionist, the person who lets you in the door, or the person who walks past you waiting at reception. You are in an interview the whole time, not just in front of the interview panel.
Make a memorable conversation outside the interview setting. Be prepared for small talk. All interactions that any employee has with you, regardless of if they are senior or junior, will weigh in on the firm’s overall impression of you.
Know the role and make the connection
Making the connection is key. Make sure you are always joining the dots between your previous experience and your ‘new role’. To do so, you must know the role well to be able to show how you can meet their needs.
Give examples of how your experience to date is relevant to the role you are interviewing for. Be specific and show that you have thought it through, it will also highlight how interested you are in the role. Do not leave it to chance, make it clear that you are the best person for the job.
Demonstrate ambition but get it right
Emphasising your growth mindset is important, a keen eye for ambition and progression is an attractive trait. But you must approach it the right way. Firms are heavily investing in top talent, and they intend to keep it. It is essential you make it evident that your primary interest is in the role you are interviewing for, not a role you have your eye on for the future. How will this next role be a growth opportunity for you and how that will put you in a position to add value for the firm long-term?
Establishing your ambition by highlighting your ability and willingness to learn new skills, will demonstrate your longevity.
Do your research
A lack of knowledge about the role or the firm, can show almost complete incompetence. Doing your research seems like an obvious one, but there are some people that do it well. Be proactive, think about what you might want to achieve in the role going forward. What value will you add that another candidate won’t?
You do not differentiate yourself from another candidate by reciting the home page of the website. Find out specifics about the type of work they bring in. Distinguish the company’s approach and ethos, then show understanding of this in your interview.
It is easy to let nerves take over, but it is always important that you listen to the question and answer accordingly. Often questions can have two parts, such as “explain and give an example”. Interviews are normally conducted under a limited timeframe, so make sure you don’t waste any time by talking around the answer.
If the answer does not come to mind straight away, pause for a second to think; as it will give you a little time to frame your answer and put your best foot forward. Talking does not necessarily mean that you are selling.
Ask Quality Questions
It is important that you ask questions that are employer focused, avoid self-centered questions. This is an opportunity to show that you are aware that it is important that the fit is right or both parties. This is when you can highlight what aspects of a firm are most valuable to you and your growth.
Asking an interviewer questions creates conversation and also takes the spotlight off you for a moment. It opens the opportunity for them to sell themselves and the firm to you.
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