We cannot overemphasis the need to prepare for your interview. One of the most common reasons for failure at an interview is inadequate preparation. An interview is an opportunity for you to find out if the firm is for you, as much as it is an opportunity for them to find out if you are a good fit for the job.
To stand out, your interview responses needs to be tailored to the specific firm. For your responses to be tailored, you will need to understand the firm and its peculiarities.
Read the firm’s website, read articles on them in the news, follow them on social media, attend seminars taken by their partners, reach out to one of their Associates on LinkedIn, whatever it takes to get adequate insight into the firm and its culture and values.
Ideally, you should have done this even before you sent in your application, but it is useful to refresh your memory and stay up to date.
Review your application
You were invited to an interview because your application interested them, so be sure to remind yourself of all the things listed in your application (CV and/or cover letter). The things listed in your application will already give you an indication of the types of questions you would be asked in your interview.
Be ready to speak about the experiences, skills, hobbies and extracurricular activities you have listed, especially if they are unusual.
Prepare responses for popular interview questions. Be careful though; you should sound prepared but you do not want to sound unnatural or rehearsed.
In the same vein, prepare questions that you want to ask the firm. Try to avoid questions about salary, benefits and holiday. Good questions would be those regarding the team you would be working in, structure of the firm, etc. Steer clear of questions that you might be expected to already have the answer to – this makes you look unserious and unprepared.
Technical legal questions are a part of law interviews but a lot of Nigerian law firms (unfortunately in our view) place a very high premium on them. You may be asked questions on how to draft or file motions, provisions of CAMA, etc. Whilst it is hard to prepare for this as you may be asked anything, keeping up to date with your law school curriculum (Litigation and Corporate Law especially) is a good place to start.
Some law firms on the other hand, would expect you to be fairly abreast with current affairs in Nigeria and around the world. Browse newspaper articles on legal and commercial issues in the days leading up to your interview and be prepared to discuss these, or at least demonstrate an awareness of the issues. It would be an added advantage if the current issues involve the law office you are interviewing with. You should also read one of our articles on commercial awareness here.
Practice practice practice
It would be extremely helpful to do a mock interview with a friend or a mentor to put you through your paces. It is better if possible, to practice with a mentor or more senior lawyer friend. Get honest feedback on your clarity, volume, tone and body language and take that feedback on board at your interview.
Interviewing is an art and you get better after a few times so where possible, schedule interviews for firms you are most interested in after firms you are less interested in.
- Familiarize yourself with the location of the interview and find out how much time it would take you to get there. Do a practice-run if necessary.
- Put out all the things you need for your interview a night before. That includes clothes, jotter and pen, certificates and transcripts, etc.
- Get good night’s sleep the evening before.
She advises blue-chip companies on various areas of law including mergers, acquisitions and capital raisings, restructurings, taxation, finance, employment, compliance, etc.
She also seeks to provide direction to students and young professionals by providing them with the information they need to launch successful careers, and make better career decisions.
Follow Yimika on LinkedIn here.