Interview Guidance

Recently we received a testimonial from a candidate who, although unsuccessful at interview, still appreciated that we provided them with feedback.

‘’ Thank you for the feedback. Whilst obviously I would have liked the application to go further, it’s something really positive that for once feedback is given. That’s a real considerate thing that most companies or recruiters do not do, so I thank you for that”.

A constant (and understandable) gripe of job seekers is when they are ‘ghosted’ by a recruiter or law firm and that this has a hugely negative impact on any future relationship. In the age of social media and on -line reviews, it’s crazy that law firms are still not taking the time to send a few sentences as to why a candidate was not the right fit for the particular role.

An interviewee takes time researching the firm, rehearsing scenarios and potentially taking time off to attend the interview so it’s poor form when they only receive a generic automated email weeks later telling them nothing other than they were ‘unsuccessful’.  It’s never nice to give someone bad news, but it’s the right thing today – constructive feedback can only ever be beneficial.

At Thornton Legal we make sure we provide all our interviewing candidates with feedback as honestly as we can. Of course, this all depends on the information we receive from our clients, and some are definitely better at giving feedback than others! We know that giving feedback is respected and keeps ongoing rapport with our candidates.

No matter how difficult or time consuming it is, it is better to be rejected with constructive feedback than ignored. Here are the key reasons why you should provide interview feedback:

Brand reputation

People talk. And it doesn’t take long for your reputation to be tarnished through word of mouth, social media or online review sites about a candidates interview experience. Negative reviews can have an irreversible effect to your company’s reputation, and it is best to take 5-10 minutes out of your day providing feedback to avoid this.

Candidate value

It is important to make your interviewee feel valued and not feel like just another face in the process.

Your interviewee has invested their own time to prepare for your interview, especially with any tests or presentations you require. The least you can do is thank them for the time spent and provide honest feedback. It allows them to understand why they may not be the right for your company at present and how they can improve going forward.

This makes sure that no future bridges are burnt and the candidate, although disappointed, feels valued and respected.

Future opportunities

We are in a very candidate short market, so recruitment is not just about the quick wins but about building long lasting relationship with candidates who you are comfortable enough to keep in your talent pool and pick up the phone to. Just because someone was not right for a particular role, does not mean they will not be perfect for a future role you may have. 

As a recruitment company, it is often awkward if our clients provide no explanation as to why one of our candidates was unsuccessful after interview. We are left to pick up the pieces so not to hinder any future relationship between yourselves.

In summary

Above are a few reasons why feedback should be a compulsory task. Candidates will resent you as a law firm if you fail to inform them why they were rejected. You may not feel that providing interview feedback is the best use of your time, but it pays off in the long run. Overall, feedback increases the job seekers experience with your company, it portrays that you value and appreciate the time they have given up for you, and on the whole helps build a positive employer brand.

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Thornton Legal is a leading legal recruitment company, recruiting for legal jobs in across Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the West Midlands 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  to see what we can do for your law firm or legal career.

I was doing a post interview debrief with a candidate last week. The interview went well save for the final question. “If we had asked you to come to this interview in fancy dress, would you have come and if so, dressed as what?”

This threw the candidate completely at the tail end of what was, until then, a very conventional, CV based interview!

It got me thinking, how would I have reacted in the same scenario? Was the question fair? What would constitute a good answer?!

I cast my mind back to the interviews that I have attended over the years, there have been a few!

What was the strangest question I have ever been asked? I think it was when I went to a training contact interview with a small high street firm whilst at university.

The interviewer, the firm’s Senior Partner, was an Oxbridge graduate. He was an old school, traditional lawyer with a pin striped suit, polished brogues and a penchant for afternoon drinking.

My after-work interview lasted all of about 20 minutes. He read through my CV, asked me whether I was going to get a 2;1 , why I wanted to be a lawyer, told me he knew my Dad vaguely through rugby... He then announced that he was going to the pictures that evening with his wife. He asked me whether I liked the pictures. I said yes. He asked what my favourite film was. “Pulp Fiction”, I said. He then asked me to sell the film to him in 2 minutes, outlining the plot and why I liked it so much!

I gave it my best shot, Barry Norman style, including as much of the juicy plot contrivances and twists as I could muster. I think I probably got a little carried away! He described my elongated elevator pitch of what is a nearly impossible to describe film as “curious” and “possibly one to avoid”.

I never did get the job….

Thornton Legal is an award winning legal recruitment company covering the North from our offices in Liverpool and Leeds.

We have in-depth knowledge and understanding of an evolving legal landscape, and provide a professional, innovative and reliable legal recruitment service that ensures our clients are matched with the strongest legal talent available. We enjoy positive and long-lasting relationships with law firms of all sizes and specialisms, making full use of our extensive networks to help build the careers of legal professionals across a broad range of experience levels.

Everyone gets nervous for an interview. It’s only natural.

However, it goes without saying that employers are attracted to those who show confidence and enthusiasm in their interview. You need ensure what’s on your CV translates to the interview room.

But how do employers judge this?

We have put together five tips that will help ignite your self-confidence in an interview.

Prepare

If confidence doesn’t come naturally to you, the best way to be confident is to prepare. The better prepared you are, the easier the process. A good way to prepare for an interview is to have a pre prepared answer or example to common interview questions (especially competency-based questions!).

It is impossible to know exactly what questions you will be asked, however the majority of interviewers follow the same formula, starting with ‘open-ended self descriptive question’ followed by questions about ‘your career to date’, questions to identify ‘how you work’ and ending with any questions you have. 

A good starting point is to prepare an answer for common interview questions. Instances of your teamwork, communication, suitability, leadership, organisation, time management and a difficult situation, can go a long way in answer a number of different interview questions in a number of interviews. For example…

  1. Tell us about a time you when you demonstrated teamwork?
  2. Tell us about a time you have dealt with a difficult situation and how you overcame it?
  3. What experience has most influenced your career choice
  4. How do you go about organising your time and assessing your priorities?
  5. Describe a situation where you acted on your own initiative.

to mention a few…

Preparing for a number of interview scenarios will go a long way in calming your nerves and confidently answering the questions.

Research

If you haven’t done the appropriate research, it is going to be hard to confidently portray an interest in the prospective firm. If you thoroughly research the company, its culture and values it will help ease your nerves. Here at Thornton Legal we make sure our candidates are equipped with valuable information about the employer that other attendees may not have access to.

Positive thinking 

Positive thinking helps you feel and act confident. Don’t doubt or think negative, instead think of all the skills you have to offer. And think how this can be applied to the role you’re interviewing for. Show these transferable skills with examples of work you have done and how the same strategy can be applied to this role.

Ask Questions

A great way to show you are confident and engaged is to ask questions (read our blog about the questions you can ask at the end of your interview). Remember, you are also interviewing them. You should want to find out everything about the company that is not obvious from the website.

Body Language

Body language is considered the most important aspect of communication as it sends signals to how we are truly feeling. In summary, maintaining strong eye contact, a firm handshake and a relaxed posture, will visibly show that you are confident, comfortable and interested in the role.

Whatever you do, do not fidget! It’s distracting and is a sign that you’re nervous. Do not look at the floor, it suggests that you are disinterested.

Do keep your arms open and not crossed and dominate the space around you. It visibly shows that you are at ease. And remember to smile when appropriate!

Interviews can be a daunting experience and doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you follow the above five pointers, it will be sure to put you at ease and help your self-confidence.

At Thornton Legal we will guide you through the entire recruitment process, including supporting and advising you through the interview stage. If you are ready to kick-start your job search, get in touch.

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Thornton Legal is a leading legal recruitment company, recruiting for legal jobs in across Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the West Midlands 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  to see what we can do for your law firm or legal career.

At Thornton Legal we 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 we 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”
  • TL – “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”
  • TL– “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”.
  • TL – “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 a small margin 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 front 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 across Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the West Midlands 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  to see what we can do for your law firm or legal career

It’s important to remember that an interview is a two-way street. The employer wants to learn about you, but you also need to learn about them. One of the best ways to do this is to ask questions at the end of your interview (but not questions that could easily be answered by looking on the firms website!). If you don’t think about them in advance, you run the risk of the interviewer assuming you are not interested in the role/ firm or haven’t prepared and are winging it.

Steer away from yes or no questions. You want to build a positive rapport with the interviewer and open-ended questions can help this. 

We have put together 8 key questions (in no particular order) to consider asking when preparing for an interview.

  1. What makes someone successful in this role?
  • This question allows you to understand what would be expected of you. It also portrays that long-term growth within the firm is important to you and you are wanting to achieve this.     
  1. How do you evaluate employee performance?
  • This question lets the employer know you eager to meet whatever goals they set. But if they expect unrealistic results, this can help determine your decision.
  1. How would you describe the work culture/environment?
  • This allows you to understand if it is the style of firm you want to work for. Finding out about the culture, ethos and working environment will factor into your decision-making process.
  1. How is the legal department structured within the company?
  • You will get an idea about the size of the department and who you will be working closely with and could give you an insight to the line of reporting.
  1. Where do you think the firm is headed in the next 5 years?
  • By asking this questions it allows you to know the firms future plans to see if they fit in with yours. You want to know if and how the firm is growing, so you can grow with it too.
  1. What are the biggest opportunities and/or challenges facing the department right now?
  • This question may help you learn where the department will be focusing its energy over the coming weeks and months. It also conveys your willingness to help the team and helps you understand key trends and issues in the industry from the interviewers perspective.
  1. What do you enjoy about working here?
  • This question should give you some real insight about if this is the employer for you. If the answer is bland, vague or negative then maybe this firm isn’t the right place for you.
  1. What are the next steps?
  • This question will wrap up your interview perfectly. It will show you are eager to move forward in the process and will give you the hiring timeline, so you can follow up appropriately through your recruiter.

Don’t ask questions about salary or benefits in your interview, let your recruiter get that information for you. Don’t ask questions that can be answered easily by looking on the website, you want your questions to reflect a genuine interest in the firm.

And remember - asking questions at the end of your interview is almost as important as answering them. If you ask the right questions it has two benefits: it shows you have a genuine interest in the company and It is also your chance to establish whether it’s the right role for you in the long term.

Thornton Legal is a leading legal recruitment company, recruiting for legal jobs in across Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the West Midlands 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  to see what we can do for your law firm or legal career. 

 

To answer these kinds of questions, you need to say what your potential employer will get out of you and what you’re hoping to get out of them. The question tests your knowledge of the firm and the role itself.

We can’t emphasise enough the importance of doing your research on things like:

  • Size
  • Reputation
  • Training
  • Progression
  • Quality of work, etc.

It’s a real opportunity for you to showcase your knowledge, skills, experience and where you might fit into the role, the department and the culture of the firm.

Why do you want to work for us?

This is your time to showcase what you want to gain from this job. You should talk about what excites you about the role and the firm.

Talk about why you believe it’s a good firm to work for (size, reputation, awards won etc.), the firms strengths, the quality of work that’s on offer, the training you will receive etc.

You should also demonstrate the personal development you want to gain from this role. Establish that you have thought about what this role will give you, by demonstrating the new skills and knowledge you hope to pick up.

Why do you think you are suited to the role?

This is the time to tell the interviewer what they will get out of you. Show that you understand what is required and talk in depth about the role you have applied for, show a genuine interest. It’s important to portray that you are capable, qualified and willing to do the job.

To help with preparation, make sure you review the job description, so you understand the type of person they are looking for, including skills, qualifications, achievements and personality.

Then pick however many relevant strengths of yours that match the job description (preferably four strong points, that will make you stand out).

Make sure to back it up with evidence.

(Talk about your strengths, how you have effectively used them in your previous work and then how you will use them to fulfil what the firm is interviewing for).

Even if you don’t have every single skill on the job description, that’s ok, talk about your ability to pick up new skills quickly and your eagerness to learn.

Also, tell them about the skills/knowledge that you have that aren’t on the job description but could potentially be of use to the company in the future. 

Thornton Legal is a leading legal recruitment company, recruiting for legal jobs in across Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Yorkshire and the West Midlands 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  to see what we can do for your law firm or legal career.