Information hub

All the latest views and news here

99 Training Contract Interview Tips

If you want a training contract you are going to have to do at least one interview. For many candidates, interviews are the hardest part of the training contract application process.
At Shearman & Sterling, we find that some candidates deal with interviews exceptionally well, while others do not.

To help all those people who will be taking part in interviews, we’ve identified 99 training contract interview tips to help you succeed. We’ve tried to think about all elements of the interview process including research, preparation, the interview itself and post-interview.

In no particular order, here are our training contract interview tips:

1. Know practice areas

You don’t need to memorise every department in the firm, but have an idea of what areas of practice the firm specialises in. Is it a full service firm? What are its key departments? How big are the teams? Shearman’s core departments are Finance, PDF and M&A, and correspondingly that’s where our largest teams are. Professing aspirations to practice IP or corporate real estate at interview when the firm doesn’t have those departments will make you appear unprepared.

2. Know the deals the firm has worked on

Take a look at the legal press for headline-making deals involving the firm. LegalWeek, LegalBusiness, Law360 and other legal publications can be searched for specific firm names and will list high-profile or notable deals that the firm has been involved in. If interesting content is behind a paywall, then look up the deal on the firm’s website for further details. You don’t need to understand the ins and outs of every aspect of the deal. Having an awareness of the firm’s work and why you find it interesting is a way to demonstrate your understanding. It can also be an opportunity to ask questions if you find yourself being interviewed by a team member who worked on a deal you researched.

3. Pick a commercial awareness topic

It’s an unrealistic and overwhelming task to try and have an awareness of everything going on in the world right now. Find topics that genuinely interest you to follow. Focusing on a few key topics will help will talk about your chosen area of interest in depth at interview, rather than talking about many at a superficial level that leaves you open to questions you won’t be able to answer.

4. Keep up to date with current affairs

Keeping an eye on the news has never been easier with the aid of the internet. See if your university offers a free Financial Times subscription to students – you can use your login credentials on the app and spend a couple of minutes a day browsing the main headlines, or even track areas of interest by flagging them using the MyFT function. Other services such as Finimize are completely free and will round up the main headlines every day in a quick email that explains their significance and what wider implications for markets they could have.

5. Review your application

Keep your application saved so that you can review it before the interview. Review what you wrote so that you can be prepared to answer questions about it. This will not just be limited to things about the firm – the purpose of an interview is also about getting to know applicants – so hobbies, interests and past work experience are all equally likely to come up at interview.

6. Expect training contract questions you can’t prepare for

Your interview is not an exam. Some of the questions that you will be asked may relate to what the interviewer wants to know about you as an individual. Don’t try to have a well-rehearsed line for every possible question as you will fall apart when asked something that you haven’t prepared for. Sometimes, being open, honest and engaging in a conversation will be the only way to go.

The last thing you should do is sound as if you’re reading from a script. Prepare answers for questions such as ‘What are your strengths/weaknesses?’ by having a few bullet points and knowing roughly what to say, but don’t try to memorise exactly what you will say.

7. Set the right tone as soon as you enter the room

Your interview doesn’t start when the first question is asked – it starts the second you cross the threshold. Smile, exchange pleasantries and maintain a professional manner from the start. There are no second first impressions – aim to knock it out of the park as soon as you arrive.

8. Prepare to be tested…it’s part of the process

Some questions will be hard, but you’ve faced hard questions before. This is your chance to show why you are better than the other candidates, how you prepared more and how you can think on your feet. Be ready, and don’t be fazed!

9. Get some water

Talking constantly is thirsty work! Save yourself the awkwardness of getting up mid-interview for water or suffering in silence throughout by getting a glass of water and offering one to your interviewer if they don’t already have one. Sip throughout in natural pauses, or even buy yourself time when you need to pause for thought to answer a question by having a quick drink.

10. Talk through your logic

A key part of the interview process is understanding how another person ticks. Make this job as easy as possible for your interviewer by explaining the thought process behind opinions that you express or conclusions that you draw. This will also benefit the flow of conversation, rather than making the atmosphere a stilted Q&A session.

11. Ask questions

Think of at least one question to ask your interviewer as they will inevitably ask whether you have any towards the end of your interview. Try to stay away from asking questions that are pointless – it’s a waste of a question to ask about the firm’s 3 key strengths when that is information that you should already know. Instead, think of something that you would genuinely like to know about the firm that isn’t readily available online.

12. …but not too many questions

Ultimately, they are the interviewer and you are the interviewee. Don’t try to reverse the dynamic by bombarding them with questions as you are, ultimately, eating into the time that you have to demonstrate your qualities as a candidate. Don’t stifle genuine curiosity, but equally don’t waste time getting answers that you could find with a bit of research.

13. Admit if you don’t know something

No interviewer expects a candidate to have a full working knowledge of the world of law. Frame gaps in your knowledge as areas that you would like to learn more about, or opportunities for you to ask a question of your own. If you are being asked for your opinion on something, it is absolutely fine to acknowledge that you may not know enough about a topic to draw an informed conclusion.

14. Answer two part questions

Every part of the question is important. Just as you wouldn’t leave an exam question unanswered, be sure to answer all parts of a question in an interview.

You may find that training contract scenario questions will be two-part questions. For example – How have you managed opposing views in a team? What would you do differently next time?

15. Motivation

Know why you want a training contract and a career in law. Interviewers know that this can often be a challenging job and they need to know why you’re interested. Think seriously about your motivations for applying, and be prepared to frame your answers in a way that will help interviewers understand you.

16. Wear what you feel comfortable in

The last thing you want is to be distracted during your interview because you are uncomfortable in what you are wearing. You should always dress smartly for an interview but wear something that feels natural to you.

17. Think about what the interviewer will want

Interviewers are looking for good trainees and for people who can be good associates once they qualify. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what they are looking for. Some of the things they are looking for can be quite straightforward, such as a sense of responsibility.

18. Answer questions honestly

Besides the fact that interviewers are smart and can see through candidates who are being less than honest, interviewers genuinely want to get to know you, your motivations and your skills. They also want to see if you will be a good fit for the firm. Be yourself, and be truthful.

19. STAR technique

The STAR technique is a way to answer situational interview questions by discussing the specific Situation, Task, Action, and the Result of the example you have chosen. If you find yourself struggling to answer questions such as ‘Tell me about a challenge you faced recently’, this technique will help you structure and frame your answers.

20. Be able to see two sides of an argument

It’s important to be able to have an opinion and to be able to defend it, but as a trainee you will inevitably act for different sides on a deal or case (e.g. borrower or lender, claimant or defendant) so you will need to be able to approach issues from different perspectives. For example, if a topic such as Brexit comes up, be open-minded and prepared to see it from alternative sides.

21. Practice

Practice makes perfect! If you have access to a career service at your university or Law School, you should take advantage of their mock interview services. Practising when the pressure is off is a good way to improve your interview technique.

22. Record yourself

It’s sometimes helpful to record yourself and watch it to see if your body language and tone of voice are coming off in the way you want them to. Do also watch out to see if you, for example, say ‘umm’ too many times.

23. Don’t think it’s all about knowing the questions

Some people think that doing well at an interview is all about knowing what questions will be asked. But it’s not as simple as that. It’s the answers that matter. You should prepare for questions, but ultimately try not to get too hung-up on predicting every possible question.

This video will give you some tips on how to prepare for typical training contract interview questions:

24. Expect a few curve balls

It’s almost a fact of life that these things never go according to plan. Prepare as much as you can, but also recognise that something unexpected is most likely to come up.

25. Don’t expect anyone to have reviewed your application

Interviewers really should read your application before meeting you, but they don’t always get a chance to, so don’t assume they know what you’ve written. Don’t be afraid to reiterate your application. If asked about your accomplishments, for example, don’t discount the ones you wrote about simply because you assume your interviewers know about them.

26. Do most of the talking

This is your interview, and whilst listening skills are important, remember that this is your chance to highlight your relevant skills, experiences and your motivation for joining the firm.

27. Sell yourself – it’s your one chance

The interview is arguably the most important part of the application process as this is where the firm gets to meet you, so don’t sell yourself short. Be proud of your accomplishments (without being boastful), and be confident in your abilities. You will need to sell your firm later on in your career, so they want to see that you can sell yourself now.

28. Understand the level of competition

Competition is increasing year-on-year and with the introduction of the SQE people from an even greater range of backgrounds (e.g. age, degree, professional experience) will be thinking about a legal career. It’s not just your peers that you need to stand out from.

29. Don’t expect anyone to take a chance on you

Related to the point above, competition is fierce and there’s an overflow of people presenting themselves as ‘sure bets’. Therefore, there isn’t space or scope for ‘chances’. Inspire confidence in all your interactions and believe in yourself to help others believe in you.

30. Don’t bore the interviewers

Keep your answers concise, structured and authentic. Everything you are saying should have a clear purpose/ intention and communicate your personality. The easiest way to do this is by being yourself.

31. High energy v low energy

Candidates with high energy often perform better at interview than low energy candidates. High energy candidates engage in conversation, appear keen and alert, listen well and ask good questions.

Candidates displaying low energy tend to appear disengaged and less interested.

Ultimately, if you display good energy you will come across as more determined to do well.

32. Clarity

When answering questions, try to focus on answering questions with real clarity. This will come with practice but try to structure your answers clearly. It’s easy to panic in an interview and just feel the need to talk. This can lead to your answers being unstructured and difficult for the interviewers to follow.

33. Stay away from clichés

At the interview stage your interviewers are primarily judging whether you are someone that they can see themselves working with. Clichés act as a barrier to someone properly getting to know you and can suggest that you’re not sure of yourself and your ideas and thoughts. Avoid these, unless you can really justify why you’re using them.

34. Know what trainees actually do

A major pitfall is to exclusively mention/ be enthusiastic about aspects of the profession that come at a later stage. Whilst it’s great to show ambition and drive (e.g. to become partner), you have to show that you’d be happy – and able – to complete the work of a trainee first (with diligence and enthusiasm), because that’s where you’ll start. This post gives you a very useful list of typical trainee tasks: What Do Trainee Solicitors Do?

35. Get familiar with terminology

Do you know the acronyms for firm departments, key financial terms and the differences between expressions which seem to mean the same thing? Look up legal dictionaries and jargon busters and get clued up if not.

36. Research tools

Avoid exclusively making use of the generic legal press which everyone will be using for interviews. Dig a little deeper and look at firm-specific publications and insight. Following senior personnel at the relevant firms and see what news they’re engaging with/ posting relativizes the mass of news. Lexology is another useful site that allows you to search for news by law firm.

37. Use your university careers service

Many firms partner with and run events, workshops and share resources with the careers service so this is a great avenue to utilise. Most careers services will be aware of trends and patterns which can help guide you as well as knowing more specifically what firms are looking for.

38. Try not to say what everyone else says

Your interviewers are likely to have been through this process countless times and you want to be the person that stands out, not the 66th person who mentions that they are excited by the “intellectual challenge” of the profession. Really think about your individual motivations, drives, responses and frame your answers with these in mind as oppose to trying to fit in lots of buzzwords.

39. Really try to answer the questions

Often interviewers get superficial responses as a result of interviewees trying to squash in their pre-rehearsed answers which don’t actually fit the question asked. The interview is an opportunity to test your ability to process and respond to live information in a relevant and directed way. It’s much better to respond to the question asked – even if you’re unsure of it – than to give a great answer to a question that was never asked.

40. If you are asked what your weaknesses are – answer them

We all have weaknesses and there’s no expectation on trainees to be perfect. Being self-aware enough to be able to identify your weaknesses is an impressive and important skill.

41. You don’t always have to be a leader

Whilst leadership is an important skill, it is not the only one the interviewer wants to see. Teamwork is crucial for working in a law firm. Especially in group interviews, show initiative, but don’t overdo the leadership role – it may come across as overbearing.

42. Know a law firm’s competitors

A firm’s practice areas should be a big reason behind your application. However, other firms will also work in those practice areas. It won’t be convincing if you say you applied to a firm because it specialises in, e.g., Energy, but do not know any other firms that work in the same sector. Additionally, researching a firm’s competitors will enable you to differentiate and explain why you want to work at your chosen firm the most.

43. Different practice groups will have different competitors

Following on from the point above, it’s important to realise that different practice groups within a firm may have different competitors. For example, it’s not as simple as thinking all US law firms are competitors of each other.

44. Turn up on time

You know it, I know it, everyone knows it: Get things off on the right foot!

45. Keep an eye on the time – 60 minutes shouldn’t be 90

Take your time and don’t rush, but keep things relevant and concise. Once you feel you’ve answered the question, don’t think you have to keep talking to prevent there being any silence.

Training contract interview tips

46. Get ready for chit-chat

Your interviews are not going to start asking interview questions straight away. Typically there will be a bit of chit-chat as you are greeted in reception, taken to a room or as you are getting some refreshments. Get things off on the right foot by being friendly and professional.

47. Pause, but don’t freeze

If a question takes you by surprise, pause, take a deep breath, and give yourself a moment to think. If you don’t know the answer, it’s okay to say so. Keep calm and carry on.

48. Speak to all the interviewers

If there are multiple interviewers, make sure you talk to all of them – they are all assessing you. Show your inter-personal skills by making eye contact with and addressing all of them.

49. Remember names/intros

It will show good social skills and leave a more lasting impression if you (naturally) use the interviewer’s name, or relate your answer or questions to something they told you about themselves at the start of the interview.

50. Be complimentary about other firms and experiences

There are many ways to show that a firm is your preferred choice, but don’t be rude about other firms. Many of them will have similar practice areas to the firm you are interviewing for. In fact, it will be more convincing if you liked features of other firms shared by the firm you are applying for.

51. Shake hands

Nothing worse than an awkward wave! Expect the interviewers to extend their hand for a handshake. Following their lead is the best way about it – try to match their firmness and maintain eye contact with a smile.

52. Let the interviewers know in advance if you need any adjustments

The interviewers want to see you at your best, so let them know before the interview if you need any adjustments. It may be too late if you tell them on the day.

53. Research issues in the legal sectors

This is where you’re applying to work, and so your interview will touch on legal news stories and issues. Make sure you are up to date on the main issues and stories in the legal sector, and have a couple that you can talk about in detail.

It will look odd if you are telling your interviewers that you are focused on a career in law when you haven’t given any thought to factors affecting the legal sector.

Training Contract Interview Tips - Artificial Intelligence

54. Don’t follow the fads

If you talk about a popular topic, such as AI in the legal sector – you really need to understand how it will affect the firm you are applying to. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that changes in the sector affect law firms equally – they don’t.

55. Challenge the process you’ve used – choosing the first news story on the firm’s website

To help with the above and choosing a non-generic news story or issue, widen your sources of information. Don’t choose the first news story on the firm’s website – have a more thorough look for something you genuinely find interesting.

56. Don’t sound desperate

You may have had a tough time with training contract applications but try not to let this show. If you tell your interviewers that you have been rejected ten times and are desperate for a training contract anywhere, you are not going to help yourself.

57. Don’t be afraid to talk honestly about your gap year

Did philanthropic work in South America? Brilliant. Spent 6 months on a massive holiday in Australia. Also brilliant. No one will deride you for enjoying your youth!

58. Be able to talk about something you studied during your degree

It is possible that you will be asked to talk about something you should know a lot about – such as your degree, your dissertation or a particular module. Be prepared for this. If you struggle to talk engagingly about something you should know well – it will raise questions.

59. Have your own thoughts and ideas

Don’t repeat the ideas of someone else. This is your chance to give your own thoughts on whatever topics arise in the interview. If you regurgitate ideas from the internet it’ll be obvious to the interviewer when they question you further.

60. Tailor your answers for the role

Make an effort to understand what makes a good trainee, and tailor your answers to highlight what will make you a great fit for the job.

61. Interviewers will be sympathetic

Try to stay relaxed and don’t get upset or give up if you think you have said something incorrect. Interviewers understand that you are likely to be very nervous and don’t expect you to have a polished answer to every question. Interview questions are meant to challenge you, so just be confident and try your best.

62. Speak slowly and clearly

When you’re nervous, it’s common to rush through your sentences. Make sure to pace yourself so that your interviewer can easily understand what you’re saying and isn’t distracted by the speed you are talking at.

63. Make it sound like you are sought after

It’s good to be open about where you stand with other applications and experiences with other firms but make sure you use your common sense when these conversations arise. Avoid bragging about the other offers you may have, as this generally comes across as arrogant and is off-putting. Equally, don’t talk yourself down or unnecessarily bring up the numerous rejections you have received, as this can raise red-flags about your self-confidence and the standard of your other applications.

64. Understand how much pro bono you will be doing

Law firms are proud of their pro bono work and talk about it a lot.

It’s great to show that you are passionate about pro-bono and keen to get involved in the firm’s projects. However, be realistic about how much time you will be spending on such projects. Your main focus will be on work for your department and you risk looking like you are more interested in pro bono work than commercial law if you spend an excessive amount of time talking about it.

65. Use different examples to answer questions

Sometimes it may be appropriate to use the same example, applied to a new question. However, it is best to use a broad range of examples to show that your knowledge and experience extend beyond one or two examples. This applies both to competency questions and questions about a firm’s recent deals or cases.

66. Don’t try too hard to name-drop

It’s great if you’ve met members of the firm at open days or campus events and if they’ve made an impact on you, but don’t expect that this will assist your application. Interviewers are aware that you are likely to have only briefly spoken to these people and constant name-dropping can come across as forced and disingenuous.

67. Be yourself and don’t be afraid to use humour when it is appropriate

Take an interview seriously but don’t be afraid to show some of your personality. Interviewers will be trying to determine whether you would be a good fit at the firm and if you would be easy to work with during stressful periods.

68. Don’t be overly set on one department

It’s great if you have a strong interest in a particular department, such as M&A or International Arbitration, and you shouldn’t be afraid to talk about this in your interview. However, try to avoid coming across as set on qualifying in one department. The nature of the training contract is that you will have a chance to explore four departments and it’s important to be open-minded.

69. Where possible, try to avoid using fillers such as “like”, “umm” and “err”

It’s natural when you’re nervous to use fillers but this can be distracting to interviewers and detracts from the substance of what you’re saying.

70. Eat beforehand

Make sure you’ve had something to eat before your interview. You’ll feel more comfortable and will avoid any awkward belly rumbles mid-interview.

71. Admit when you aren’t sure of something or need a question repeated

It’s better to ask for something to be repeated than stumble your way through a question you didn’t hear. Rather than being frowned upon, asking questions is usually a good thing. Trainees often get feedback that they should have asked for clarification earlier on if they were unsure to avoid making mistakes and wasting time in the long run.

72. Be positive and enthusiastic but not fake

It’s good to show that you are a positive person and enthusiastic about commercial law but, as in written applications, avoid using cliché phrases about your passion for the law and childhood dreams of becoming a commercial solicitor – it’s just not believable.

Once the interviewers feel you are not being genuine, they will begin to have doubts regarding all your interview answers.

73. Breathe

Sometimes you can be in such a rush to get everything out that you forget to pace yourself. Stop, take a breath, and it will do wonders for keeping your nerves in check.

74. Pay attention

It can be easy to focus so hard on remembering what you want to be asked that you accidentally miss what you are actually being asked. Avoid this by not having your heart set on a script, and on genuinely engaging with your interviewer as you would a person that you were having a conversation with.

You should also wait until the interviewer has fully asked a question before answering.

75. Know your audience

Humour and levity have their place in an interview for setting a tone that puts everybody at ease, but remember that ultimately you are trying to impress potential employers. Speak to them with the right degree of respect and formality where appropriate, and don’t denigrate other firms in favour of the one that you are interviewing at. The legal world is a small one!

76. Watch your posture

Don’t slouch in your seat or stare at the table during your interview. At the same time, try to avoid sitting ramrod straight or expressing stiffness in your movements. Convey your confidence by sitting with your head up and shoulders back, and don’t be afraid to use your hands to punctuate speech – it will keep them too occupied to fiddle with anything in front of you.

77. Use expression in your tone

Wanting to come across as professional and knowledgeable shouldn’t result in using a robotic tone of voice. That gives away that you are reciting from a script, and will also make your interviewer struggle to maintain interest. Vary your tone as appropriate, and keep it lightly conversational but polite.

78. Let the interviewer speak

It can be such a relief to be asked a question that you are completely prepared for that you end up talking for entirely too long or start answering before the interviewer has finished speaking. The interview should hopefully progress like a conversation – so try to avoid monologues and draw your answers to a timely close. It’s fine to express that you have touched upon a topic that you are particularly interested in and could talk more about. That way, the interviewer has the option to enquire further if time is permitting, and you restore the balance of the interaction.

79. Outfit presentation

Make sure that your clothes are freshly washed, ironed and well-fitting. You don’t need to be wearing something expensive to come across well; just wear something appropriate and smart that demonstrates the care you have taken in your presentation on the day.

80. Get there early

Give yourself some extra time! This will give you leeway if your transport is delayed and, if you do arrive early, will give you time to locate the building, calm down and mentally prepare. Maybe get a coffee somewhere nearby. You don’t want to be rushing off a train, late and flustered, straight into the interview room.

81. Be prepared to adapt what you know

You may have prepared so well that you know some answers by heart. However, the interviewer’s question may not be exactly the same as the one you prepared so well for. Make sure you consider what the interviewer is actually asking, and then tailor what you know to that question – you can still use it to show off!

82. Use your contacts

Speak to people you know who have already done interviews or, even better, work at a firm already. They will be able to give you a more accurate idea of what life is like as a lawyer, and will make your answers (e.g. why you want to be a lawyer) much more convincing.

83. Make sure you can back up what you say

Don’t get caught out saying you are interested in something and then be unable to talk about it. For example, if you say something is your favourite subject, make sure you can explain why and that you actually know about that topic.

84. Be consistent with your application

Make sure the things you talk about at interview match what is on your application form. If you start to talk about stints of work experience that are not detailed in your application, it will look strange. Similarly with degree modules.

You don’t want your interviewers to question the content of your application.

Note: If you have gained work experience after submitting your application that is completely normal and easy to explain.

85. Not all interviews are the same

Interviews are still a very personal experience and they can differ depending on who interviews you. Law firms often call upon a range of people to assist with interviews e.g. HR, Partners and Associates.

It’s likely that interviewers will be assessing the same things, but each interviewer will have a different style.

Therefore, don’t get too caught up in someone else’s interview experience. Chances are yours will be different.

86. End the interview well

As important as it is to make a good first impression, make sure you leave a good one as well. Make small talk as appropriate, shake hands and make eye contact as you say goodbye.

87. It’s not just about the interviewers

Look to make a good impression on everyone, this includes reception staff, catering staff and other people you may meet before and after your interview. These are all part of the team at the firm and you want to form positive relationships with them all.

88. Logistics

Know where in the building your interview room is and know how to get there. You’ll likely be given instructions e.g. asked to wait outside the room until called in or to go in and wait for your interviewers inside – make sure you listen carefully to these.

89. Stay above the ‘gossip’

If you are in the process of a vacation scheme at the firm or even if you have spoken to people who have had interviews previously, you are likely to have been given an impression of how a ‘good’ interview goes and what ‘nice’ interviewers are like. Ignore this. All interviews are different and there’s not a general prescription for how an interview should go. Don’t let this faze you before your interview has even started.

90. Have ‘back-ups’

Whether this is a hairbrush in case it unexpectedly rains, a spare pair of tights in case of a last-minute ladder or an extra tie in case of a coffee stain – knowing you’re prepared (even if it’s unlikely that you’ll have to use these things) will allow you to keep your attention and focus on the interview itself.

91. Conclude your answers

Complete and finish your answers as opposed to tailing off at the end. Using connectives such as ‘additionally’, ‘therefore’, and ‘finally’ will show the interviewer that your answers have been thought through and you’ll come across as more coherent and articulate.

92. Know why you don’t want to do other careers

Depending on what answers you give as your motivation for a commercial legal career, your interviewers may ask you why you don’t wish to pursue other careers which offer similar work such as banking, consulting, diplomacy etc. Be sure to be able to explain why you’ve ruled these career options out and convey that you’re not just on a generic graduate job search.

93. Details are key

Be able to quantify your answers with specific numeric results (where relevant) e.g. the number of people you have previously led in a team or what specific tasks/ projects you worked on at X organisation as opposed to giving a generic overview of your experiences.

94. Understand the client relationship

Lawyers, and particularly partners, are incredibly focused on their clients. Be prepared to talk about times when you have had to provide a service to somebody.
If you don’t know anything about how lawyers work with their clients, you can easily come unstuck on questions gaged to test this.

95. Menial tasks?

Stay away describing typical trainee tasks as menial or basic. Interviewers hear this a lot when candidates talk about tasks such as proofreading or bundling. Even though a task you’ll do as a trainee may be basic, it will still be important and it will need to be executed well. That applies equally to partner-led negations to trainee-led proofreading.

96. Be conscious of what you do when you’re nervous

Some people tap their feet, some play with their hair, and some click their pens. Be aware of what you tend to do when you’re nervous and try to mitigate them if you think your actions can be disruptive or distracting. You want the attention to be on you and your answers. (Side note: If you have a medical condition where you cannot help doing some of these things, you can let the graduate recruitment team know in advance so this will not affect your application.)

97. Have a cohesive application

Whilst no one is expecting a first-year university student to know what type of law they want to do for the rest of their lives, try to maintain a sense of consistency while being open-minded. For example, whilst it’s fine to say you’re interested in transactional work generally, you may not then want to say you want to do work that is very research-heavy. That won’t be very consistent.

98. Read up on the firm beforehand

This is different to general firm research – it’s always worth having a quick check of the firm you’re interviewing with a few days before just to see if anything interesting has come up, e.g. if they have just completed a new deal or opened a new office, and mention it in your interview if appropriate. This will show you’re interested in them specifically, not just ‘Generic Law Firm’.

Protip: Set up a Google Alert on the firms you’re applying to.

99. Email follow-up?

Should you or shouldn’t you? You will often be told that it’s interview etiquette to send an email following your interview to your interviewers. In truth, whether you do or don’t, it won’t impact the outcome of your decision. If you excel at the interview, the law firm will take you to the next stage whether you sent a follow-up email or not.

Summary – 99 Training Contract Interview Tips

So, there you have it. 99 training contract interview tips. We have tried to cover everything that will be important and useful for you to know ahead of any interviews you have.

Above all else, practice, research be prepared to adapt during the interview.

Back to Blogs >