Job interviews: don't trip yourself up like this

by Chris Tang in Blog

DatePosted on September 12, 2023 at 06:15 PM
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Do you remember the feeling you had when you first took your driving test?

You probably crammed the Highway Code all night to pass the written test the following day. And you probably took a couple of hours of extra lessons immediately before the practical test so you could “warm up” for the real thing.

All the while, you were fully aware that just one serious fault led to failure.

You were constantly on edge throughout the test, palms all sweaty, knowing full well that hitting a kerb on a 3-point turn or going too slow could well fail you. You knew all the tasks required of you, so you prepared, prepared, prepared.

Because a pass was your entry into adulthood; a badge of honour indicating that you’d made it in a major stage in Life.

Sadly, too many junior lawyers fail to prepare for a job interview like they would if they were about to take a driving test. Perhaps they think it will be like a fireside chat or a walk in the park, full of laughter and banter. Then they’re caught completely off guard when they’re being asked technical questions relating to their experiences on their CV and reduced to a gibbering mess. Typically, it’s on a point of law, procedural rule, or a scenario that relates to the experience on the CV.

They fail to answer the question satisfactorily. Then, to no one’s surprise, they get rejected.

If that’s you and you feel hugely disappointed, imagine the feeling of the interviewer discovering after talking with you for 30 minutes that you don’t have the technical ability or focus they require when on paper you looked like you do.

Collectively, job seekers need to get “tighter” on their CV.

1. Say what? If you’re not prepared to talk about something in your CV in detail, don’t put it on your CV. 

2. Don’t embellish. Don’t make it look like you led a multi-billion dollar transaction when your involvement was more in proof reading, registry filing and preparing a completion bible.

3. Know your CV inside out. Anticipate all the questions that are likely to be asked and think of all the permutations of where the questions can lead with “what if this happened, what would you have done?”

4. Deconstruct: If you’re asked a novel question that hasn’t been raised before, give the interviewer credit, take a note of it post-meeting and prepare an unbeatable answer to it for next time.

5. Don't fluff-up. If you answer a technical question incorrectly when you should have been capable of answering it in your sleep, and your interviewer kindly gives you the correct answer, you’ll be beating yourself up how you missed the opportunity to follow an amazing mentor.

But have faith. Put in your shift and prepare better the next time. There will be other great supervisors out there.

Just not this one.



This post (pre-edit) was first published on LinkedIn by our co-Managing Director, Chris Tang


About the Author

Chris Tang

Chris is a co-founder of the Star Anise Group comprising Star Anise Legal, Yuzu ALSP, and SALT. A former practising English corporate M&A lawyer with Top 50 UK law firms, you can find him these days regularly posting on LinkedIn. You can connect with Chris here:

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