The majority of interviewers seem to ask this question, but why? The question can come across as confusing because not all of us have our life planned out, do we really know what we want? What’s the interviewer expecting us to say? There is no right answer, but there are a few pointers that you should/should not do.

They don’t want a mapped-out plan of your personal life, where your relationship is going, or even that you are going to of made enough money to quit your job and move abroad.

They want to know how ambitious you are and what your career plan is (which we have all gave some thought to) and if realistically your plan fits into their organisation and what they can offer.

But even if you are honest about where you see yourself in five years, it depends what scenario the interviewer is looking for, because some can be wary of candidates that seem to lack ambition and do not aspire, for example, Partnership within a realistic time frame. Others can be conscious of the extent to which they can realistically accommodate a further Partner in the short to medium term.

Nor does the interviewer want to hear that you are going to progress so quickly that you’re not going to stick around in the job they are hiring you to do. And they don’t want to think that you plan to steal their job.

To answer the question, its best to be realistic about what you can achieve because five years isn’t that long.

Do your research.

Research the practice area you are in and understand the possible routes someone in your position can take. What career ladder does the firm you are interviewing at have in place? What is the specific criteria for promotion from Solicitor to Associate or Associate to Partner?

You need to understand the time scale and route of where you want to be and think about how that aligns with some of your wider professional goals, in order to answer the question realistically.

If you don’t know how you want your career to progress, have a goal in mind instead. Talk about what you will bring to the company and how you will help the company within that time frame. Its best to research the company’s aims and objectives, ambitions and values. From that you will be able to plan a response which outlines why you will be an asset in helping the company reach its goals.

Overall, you want to come across ambitious, that you intend to develop, more forward, pursue new challenges and are committed to the role and firm.


Thornton Legal is a leading legal recruitment company, recruiting for legal jobs in the North West, Midlands and Yorkshire. We are passionate about providing a professional, innovative and reliable legal recruitment service that is focused on quality and ensures our clients are matched with the strongest legal talent available. Get in touch with one of our recruitment consultants on 0151 307 5757 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to see what we can do for you.

Do you have an interview coming up that you need to prepare for? No worries, Thornton Legal have got you covered! 

''Why are you looking to leave your current firm?'' This is often one of the first questions that comes up at an interview. This is because your potential employer is trying to find out:

  • Are you leaving for a good reason?
  • Are you leaving on good terms?
  • What are your work values?
  • Are you leaving voluntarily?

There are many good reasons you may be leaving your job; some should be discussed others shouldn’t. Firms are looking to hear a positive reason as to why you are looking to leave. Answers revolving around salary or negativity about your current employers are unlikely to be met with a favourable response.

Even though you may be leaving because you want more money, you don’t like the work culture, you don’t get on with your boss/employers or even personal reasons, don’t answer with these responses. Your potential employer will only think that you have a negative attitude and will wonder if this will also be a problem at their firm.

There is no right answer to this question, only wrong answers. Just be as positive as you can, talk nicely about your boss and employers, keep the answer short and simple. Direct the conversation on the appealing nature of the role and the firm you are interviewing with. The reputation of the firm, the quality of the work on offer, relocation, work-life balance, career progression and the opportunity to develop should be the focus of any conversation. 


Thornton Legal is a leading legal recruitment company, recruiting for legal jobs in the North West, Midlands and Yorkshire. We are passionate about providing a professional, innovative and reliable legal recruitment service that is focused on quality and ensures our clients are matched with the strongest legal talent available. Get in touch with one of our recruitment consultants on 0151 307 5757 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to see what we can do for you.

Nick and I generally feel that we prepare our candidates well for interviews but feedback from a client of ours last week made us realise there are certainly aspects that we, and the interviewees, can definitely improve on.

The client in question is one I know well and, consequently, we have pretty honest conversations about recruitment matters. The one last week went something like this:

Client – “We really like both candidates and we would like to bring then in for a second interview”

Joe – “That’s great news! When are you thinking?”

Client – “Before we get to that, there’s something I’d like to get off my chest”

Joe – “Yes of course”

Client – “Why is it that candidates generally know very little about us and our firm, or have any good quality questions to ask? We believe this is the opportunity for them to impress with their research and for them to gather information that will help them decide if we are the right choice. This lack of interest ends interviews on a flat note when it could be chance to really stand out from the crowd. Otherwise the interviews went well but this was disappointing”.

Joe – “Oh dear, not great. We do go through the importance of interview preparation, pass on what we know about who they are meeting and give them ideas about questions to ask but this is something we must do better at. Having said that, it’s also down to the interviewee to take ownership and decide what interview preparation is required”.

What this conversation brought home is that it’s small margins which make the difference between success and failure at interview. Researching the firm and the interviewers couldn’t be easier in today’s digital world and if you are working with a half decent recruiter they should have additional information for you from client meetings that could swing the balance in your favour.

My candidates were asked “what do you think of our website?” – an easy one to answer…. if you have bothered to look!

The importance of asking good quality questions towards the end of the interview can’t be over stated. Nothing says “your just another law firm” like asking the interviewer about parking arrangements then having nothing else to say.

Rather, ask the interviewers about themselves – when did they join the firm? How have they progressed? What has kept them so long? Other questions could be - how is the team trained and developed? What career progression can be expected? Do I have the skills and experience that you are looking for? How do you feel I performed at interview?

As I said earlier, I feel we are better than most when it comes to helping with interview preparation but we have resolved to do even more to ensure that we do all we can to help you get the job of your dreams. But interviewees also need to take on the responsibility themselves - ultimately they will be sitting in from of a Partner, not us.

Proper research and well thought out questions are simple to do, but are too often missed and can be the difference between success and failure.

(If you would like to see a full copy of our interview guide then please let us know).

PS. We try and meet candidates for preparation as much as possible as these solicitors testify:

“Nick was a real help throughout. He was well connected and knew the family law market well. His relationships with firms put him in an advantageous position when it came to advising me of my options. I would not hesitate in recommending his services to anybody looking to gain a real insight into what jobs are out there. He took the time to come and meet me and this itself was very useful”.

“Joe's mantra of quality over quantity really proved true for me. He took the time to get to know me and focused on finding the right fit for my skill set and personality. He took time to speak to me outside of office hours and even drove across Cheshire to meet me. I thoroughly recommend Joe's services to anyone looking to move jobs. To top it off, he's a great bloke too”.

I found our pre-interview meeting especially useful. My Interview techniques were a tad rusty and being able to meet face to face and practice interview questions made me feel much more confident. Joe's communication was excellent from beginning to end whether that be by email, phone or text message. I would highly recommend him to anyone looking for a new challenge!"

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Thornton Legal is a leading legal recruitment company, recruiting for legal jobs in the North West, Midlands and Yorkshire. We are passionate about providing a professional, innovative and reliable legal recruitment service that is focused on quality and ensures our clients are matched with the strongest legal talent available. Contact one of our legal recruitment consultants today on 0151 307 5757 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to see what we can do for your law firm or legal career.