Prepare/Conduct a Successful Interview

The job interview is the single most important step in securing employment.

It's your future in the balance. When it's your future in the balance, you need to deliver a superb interview performance.

We all spend time and effort getting: The right training, the right qualifications, the right experience, the right contacts, the right interview opportunity, etc. But no matter how impressive your credentials are or how brilliant your experience is, it's your interview skills that make or break your job application.

Job interviews can be frustrating and scary because you know that even a small mistake can cost you the job. Many job applicants will tell you that they were scared, nervous and even exhausted by an interview. They often talk about butterflies in their stomach, sweaty palms, and a pounding heart. Some will confess to being frightened by the prospect of an interview.

Preparing for an interview is essential
Your experience and academics may be ideal for the role you are interviewing for, however lack of preparation will let you down.

  • Know the location and time of your interview and ensure you allow yourself plenty of time to get there
  • Research the firm, interviewers, recent news/press releases to ensure you are up to date, often their website is a good place to start, as is the legal press and firm/market specific reports
  • Speak to your recruitment consultant to obtain as much information as possible about the role, interviewers, interview process/style and questions they may ask
  • Rehearse answers to any ‘difficult’ questions you may encounter and never show a ‘physical’ reaction
  • Know your CV and be prepared to talk a potential employer through it in detail. It is important to be able to discuss all aspects of your CV and any reasons behind your career choices so far, for example why you chose a particular course at University, why you decided to go travelling etc.

Do’s / don’ts

  • On greeting your interviewer(s) a good strong handshake and engaging smile are essential
  • Be alert and enthusiastic and maintain a good level of eye contact
  • Answer questions succinctly, avoid waffling and avoid yes/no answers where possible
  • Remember, it’s often not what you say, it’s how you say it – speak confidently and clearly
  • Maintain the ‘connection’ with each interviewer, ensuring your answers, questions and attention are directed to each person, equally
  • Be yourself, you will have to work with your interviewers on a daily basis so don’t mislead them
  • Be positive and enthusiastic about the role/opportunity and avoid reacting to any negative thoughts or reservations you may uncover, you can think through these after the interview
  • Do not mention salary unless the interviewer(s) raise this. If in doubt how to deal with this, take advice from your recruitment consultant
  • Never interrupt your interviewer(s)


  • You need to demonstrate that you are not only qualified for the opportunity but that you are the best candidate for the job
  • The job usually goes to the candidate that interviews the best
  • Your past performance is the best indicator of your future performance – give examples of achievements and demonstrate how you achieved them
  • Don’t be afraid to sell yourself – you are competing with other candidates so differentiate yourself, ask yourself why should they employ you?
  • Demonstrate your knowledge about the firm, team, work, clients, high profile cases/deals, competitors and why you are interested in them
  • If you don’t know something, ask – be inquisitive and ask intelligent questions
  • Interviews are a fact finding exercise for all parties, where questions will form the basis of any interview.

Interviewer – likely questions they may ask you

  • Why do you want to leave XXX organisation?
  • Why are you interested in joining YYY organisation?
  • What will you miss most in your current position?
  • What types of people do you work well with/not work well with?
  • What would you say have been your greatest successes in your current position?
  • What would you have done differently in your current position?
  • Give us examples of how your management style has been effective?
  • What have you learnt over the course of the last 5 years?
  • What have you done that shows initiative in your current position?
  • How would your team describe you?
  • What are your career goals?
  • How are you at prioritising?
  • Give examples of your delegation skills?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What is the most difficult thing you have ever done at work?
  • Will you be available to travel during the week?
  • What would your colleagues say about you?

Interviewee - questions to ask during an interview

  • Why has the position become available?
  • What is the culture of your organisation?
  • What is the policy of your company on training and development?
  • What are the future plans of the company?
  • Who do you regard as your main competitors?
  • What type of employee is historically successful in your company?
  • How do you appraise the performance of your employees?
  • What would I expect to be involved in during my first 3/6/12 months?
  • What are the long term prospects for the successful applicant?
  • Is there a possibility of working overseas?
  • Ask the interviewer "what is your background". People always like to talk about themselves and this gives you the chance to gather your thoughts?

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