While you might look perfect on paper, when it comes to looking for a new opportunity, the true test for any lawyer, is meeting their potential new employer. In an interview, you’re given only a short space of time to convince the person or people you’re meeting that everything they’ve read about you in your CV and learned by speaking to your recruitment consultant is true. An interview is an opportunity for you to more directly prove to an employer that you are the best candidate for the job at hand.
However, many candidates trip up at this hurdle and make mistakes which result in them being eliminated from the recruitment process. Here we round up the most common interview faux-pas to avoid when you next attend an interview.
Arriving at the interview late without good reason
If you turn up late, an interviewer may start to form an impression of you before you’ve even met. Apologising profusely for your lateness when you arrive should help to make amends, while there may be no coming back for a candidate who doesn’t say sorry.
As we explored in an older blog, appearance matters; it’s essential that you dress the part for an interview and look polished and well-groomed.
Equally, make sure you bring only necessary belongings into the room with you. Turning up with your gym kit for later or a half-finished cappuccino will give the impression that the interview is not your main focus or priority that day.
Not making eye contact with the interviewer
Making eye contact with the person or people interviewing you shows that you’re engaged and interested in what they are saying. If you look at the floor when being asked a question or don’t look the interviewer in the eye when giving your response, you’ll certainly reduce your chances of progressing to the next stage of the recruitment process.
If you’re being interviewed by more than one person, ensure that you make eye contact with everyone in the room, not just with the lead interviewer.
Displaying closed off or nervous body language
Slouching or sitting with your arms crossed and not smiling gives the impression that you’re uncomfortable or disinterested. On the other hand, sitting upright with your palms open signals honesty and engagement and will help you to come across as energetic and enthused about the role.
Fidgeting too much in your seat, playing with your hair or using too many hand gestures when speaking can all also be a turn-off.
Being too chatty
Of course, you want to come across as excited and interested in the opportunity, but make sure you don’t dominate the conversation or get carried away sharing details that aren’t relevant to the interview. It’s also essential that you don’t come across as arrogant or a know-it-all. Be confident, but respectful of your position and that of the interviewer (who could be, after all, your future employer) and speak only when it’s appropriate to do so.
Not being chatty enough
At the other end of the scale, saying the bare minimum won’t do you any favours. When responding to the interviewer’s questions, make sure you give a good level of detail in your answers, clearly explaining how your character, experience and skill set make you a suitable candidate for the job. Be friendly, express enthusiasm, be curious and communicate your personality.
Not providing a direct answer to important questions
Evading difficult questions or being cagey in your responses might make you come across as untrustworthy or dishonest. If you don’t know the answer to something, be honest and admit that you don’t, then explain how you’d go about finding a solution.
Talking badly about your current job
While you might be desperate to move on from your current role, you mustn’t speak negatively about your situation. If you complain about your current role or employer, this will show you in a bad light and could suggest to the interviewer that you might begrudge them in the future if you were to be offered the job. Instead, be tactful in explaining why you are looking to make a move.
Not putting your phone on silent beforehand or taking a phone call during the interview
Before the interview, make sure you turn your phone off or at least put it on silent. If your phone rings, not only is it impolite (even more so if you answer the call!), but it will also interrupt the flow of the conversation which could ruin your chances of landing the role.
Asking about salary or benefits
Focus on what you can bring to the role and the firm, not what the opportunity might give you (at least in terms of pay and benefits). Any candidate who seems more excited about the pay rise they could potentially get rather than the expertise they could develop will immediately turn off any employer. It’s fine to ask about the steps in the process, but your recruitment consultant will handle the conversation about salary on your behalf later down the line.
Are you looking for job search advice or on the hunt for a new opportunity?
At Realm, we recruit for legal jobs within Family, Personal Injury, Private Client and Commercial Insurance. Our specialist consultants are here to help you in your job search and can offer you specialist advice and interview coaching to help you land your next role. Contact our expert team of consultants on 03300 245 606 to learn more.