Finding a job as a newly qualified lawyer – Submission and Interview

Part of our series: Finding a job as a newly qualified lawyer

Finding a job as a NQ_Submission and Interview

Taking the step of making an application can be daunting. But, if you know what to expect, what to think about, and are secure in the knowledge that you have control of your personal details, then things can be made a lot easier.

In the second part of our series for NQ lawyers, we’ll look at how to deal with recruiters, what to watch out for, and how to prepare for the interview.

Using a recruiter

Whenever you’re applying for a new job, you’ll want to make sure your details are kept private until you want them to be released. Making sure you confirm with any recruiter you use that you want to be in control of who sees your CV and when is crucial. Unfortunately, there are many recruiters, especially at NQ level, who will send your CV or name to every firm they can (whether or not you have agreed) in the hope of securing a fee. By using Route1, you can guarantee this will never happen. You will always be in control of your data, your applications, and your job search. You simply press apply, receive an email confirming receipt of the application, and know that you’ll always be in control of your data.

Top Tip: keep notes. Notes of your conversations with recruiters – who, what you discussed, and what you agreed to.

Don’t give anyone free reign. It’s a disappointing fact that many of the NQs I speak to each year have their CV sent around the market without their permission. Whilst both immoral and contravening the GDPR, more importantly for you, it has an impact on your prospects as a candidate if your CV turns up twice or more at the same firm.

Interviews

If you get invited to interview, how do you prepare? Where do you start? Sadly, there is no generic format for interviews – but there are key things that you can do to prepare. The easiest? Know what is on your CV. I don’t just mean know what you have written. I mean be prepared to talk about what you have written. Think about the following:

– What did you do (as a firm) and why?
– What did you do (as an individual)?
– Why did you do this (both in terms of the law… i.e. why it was done in that particular way?)
– What benefit did this have for your client?

Talk to colleagues and peers and go through your CV. Answer the questions above and think about relating your answers to both the client and your development… Your work is done for a reason. If you can show your commercial awareness, alongside practical knowledge, you’ll put yourself in a very strong position.

Research the firm and team you’re interviewing with. Look at their latest deals, recent hires, key expertise, directory rankings, and partner profiles. And also be ready to answer why you’re interested in that firm. Unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon occurrence to get feedback that a candidate wasn’t able to answer any questions about the partners they are meeting or hadn’t even read the firm’s site. At Route1, we’ll ensure that you have as much information beforehand (and most of the time it will be available next to the role on the platform), but we can’t make you read it… that bit is up to you!

It’s also very likely you’ll be asked about your qualification situation at your current firm – did you apply for an NQ role? Did you get offered? Why not? Why are you looking to move? Practice these answers.

Most processes involve two interviews with partners and/or HR, followed by a “meet the team” session. Generally, your first interview will be an overview meeting. You’ll talk through your CV, and you (and the firm in question) have the opportunity to work out if you’re a good personality match. Don’t be underprepared, though. Be ready for more technical questions. Meeting the team usually comes when either an offer is pending or has already been made. But don’t make the assumption that it’s a done deal at this point – these are the people you’ll be working alongside. Treat it as an opportunity to ask them about the dynamics within the group – how is work allocated, levels of responsibility, etc.

Things we shouldn’t have to say, but we do!

– Read your CV again before your interview!
– Dress smartly – iron your shirt/blouse, and shine your shoes, men – do your tie up properly
– Look your interviewers in the eye
– Treat everyone you meet the same – first impressions do still count, and we’ve had a number of occasions where the receptionists have fed back that the candidate was very rude – it all matters!

If you’ve impressed with your CV and then at the interview stage you will receive an offer. But what happens next? Can you ask for more money? And how do you ask those difficult questions? Find out in the final part of our series: “Finding a job as a newly qualified lawyer”.

Ben Daniels
Route1 Head of Engagement

Route1 is an award winning marketplace for legal talent. For any questions, please contact our Engagement Team or visit our Contact Us page for more information.


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