The best of you: how to handle your training contract final interview

Getting across the real you

So the date highlighted in bold on your calendar is fast approaching. That all important TC interview.

You’ve already spent hours pouring over your application, editing and re-editing, tailoring it to the culture and values of the firm you’re interviewing with. You’ve received that email, the one that gives you a burst of excitement as you move forward to the next stage.

You may have even completed a video interview, feeling slightly odd talking to your laptop on a Saturday morning, wearing business attire on top and possibly pyjama bottoms hidden conveniently from the webcam’s view underneath.

But now it’s down to the final hurdle, the all-important interview. An hour to seal the deal and impress HR and the partners. It’s about promoting yourself as an individual and demonstrating how you would fit well within the firm. It’s about showing the real you.

At this stage you don’t need to worry about showing your capabilities – this will already be evident through the standard of your application, your grades and the competency questions. It’s about you. Your personality, your individuality and how you deal with questions and interact with the interviewers.

For some, this may be daunting. Being put on the spot isn’t easy, even for the most relaxed of applicants. So how do you manage those nerves and perform to the best of your ability in the interview?

Preparing for success before you arrive

The interviewers are not trying to catch you out. Think about the questions, there’s no need to launch into a ramble about your holiday to Greece straight away. Take your time. Think about what the question aims to achieve: is it about your competency, is it about your hobbies, or is it about how you interact with people and situations? A personal touch always helps as it highlights you as different and unique.

There is so much information out there on the World Wide Web to help you out. Some, like me, might even argue that there’s too much. Reading endless articles from countless law and career websites may help a bit, but overloading on advice may actually be a hindrance. Overthinking in an interview will put more pressure on you, and you’ll only increase your nerves as you struggle to tick off all those bullet points from GenericTCHelp.com. I’m not saying don’t prepare for an interview, because that would be, well, daft but there is such a thing as overpreparing and you don’t want your answers to sound rehearsed. Your time is best spent reflecting on you as an individual and picking the top examples which will show you at your best.

Doing your homework

Remember – despite those 50 common applications you’ve sent out, each firm is different, and none more so than Royds Withy King. Having completed vacation schemes and interviews at both big city firms and national firms like Royds Withy King, I can tell you that the difference is palpable. Spewing out generic answers to questions because you’ve read them in articles may not be the best option for a firm that looks for individuality. Try to answer competency questions using the following structure:

  1. Background of the situation
  2. The problem that occurred
  3. How you went about solving it; and
  4. The outcome.

But I’ll stress it again, it’s nothing without a bit of what makes you you added in.

Spend some time looking at the firm’s website and social media accounts. If you’ve found this article you’re already on the right track. Read the blogs. Look at the people profiles, the careers section, the charity and extra-curricular details. Research the work they do, the cases they’ve worked on etc. Really get to know your firm and, likewise, your interviewers.

Managing nerves on the day

The right amount of preparation is key to helping you feel calm and ready for the hour ahead. Arrive early and relax. Have some water, talk to the front of house team. Don’t sit in silence and let your thoughts overpower you. Interacting with a friendly face at the front desk will help to calm your nerves, but, more importantly, it’ll prepare you for the coming interview: a tone that is both chatty and relatively formal is precisely what you’ll need in front of the interview panel.

After that, it’s up to you. Feel your way through the interview and don’t forget to smile: nobody wants to work with a grump. Feeling positive, prepared, and relaxed will bring the best out of you. More than this, though, it’ll mean that the interviewer will be able to see the real you, which is exactly what the interview is all about.

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