As Dave mentioned in his earlier post, doing summer placements and legal work experience is a great way to make yourself stand out when it comes to trainee recruitment.
However, the somewhat terrifying truth is that the preparations for your traineeship interviews begin as soon as you enter university. The good news is that enjoying student life to the full, in whichever way you choose, is the best kind of preparation there is.
Interviews are extremely stressful experiences, as well they should be. It often seems like you are being asked to justify your worth as a human being, and to explain what makes you infinitely better than dozens of other people who, in truth, are pretty much as similar to you as it’s possible to be. On the plus side though, modern graduate interviews tend to be structured in a way that makes this feat possible. This is done using “competency questions”.
Competency questions can take a variety of forms, but tend to centre around asking you to describe a situation where you have demonstrated a specific skill that the employer is looking for. (There will also be questions such as “What makes you exceptional?” or “What is your biggest weakness?”, but don’t worry: you will not answer these questions well and nor will anyone else.) Team work, ingenuity, time management, organisational skills, attention to detail and motivation are all subjects very likely to come up.
This is where student life comes in. The key to answering a competency question well is quite simply to have experienced a situation in which you demonstrated the skill in question. Whilst law schools offer these opportunities in mooting, student law reviews and other areas, you are just as likely have relevant experiences by getting a part time job, being treasurer of the whisky appreciation society, or organising the hockey team’s annual trip to Belgium.
A law degree is fantastic proof that you are intelligent, good at expressing yourself, and skilled in problem solving. But by the time you are at an interview, your future employer wants to see that you are an enthusiastic person who takes initiative, likes to fill their time, and is adept at juggling multiple responsibilities. You can prove that you are that person by getting stuck into (and enjoying) university life!
On May 29, 2014