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 Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Chester and Preston. 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.