Our Question Time campaign answers common queries raised by Howard Kennedy Trainee candidates. So here's the inside scoop!
5 practical tips to keep calm, be prepared and showcase what you know during an assessment day or interview.
1. Kick the caffeine: My nerves display themselves in a really physical way, so if like me you also get the shakes when the adrenaline is pumping then steer clear of the coffee and perhaps stick to a water or camomile tea instead!
2. Shake it off: A colleague of mine suggested that I go for a brisk walk before my interview to release some of my adrenaline! It really did help getting some fresh air and burning off some energy before the interview and it gave me a chance to gather my thoughts calmly.
3. Make the effort: Part of the assessment day will be the firm figuring out if you would work well in their teams. So whilst it of course goes without saying that you need to make the effort to impress the firm, you also need to make the effort with your peers on the assessment day. Work collaboratively; listen and consider what other people are saying and encourage people to talk who may be a bit quiet. If you find yourself struggling to get your point across then make sure you find the right opportunity to say what you need to say, and don't let the moment pass you by.
4. Do your research: There is no denying that it is hard to know a firm inside out when you haven’t worked there, but be as prepared as possibly. The information readily available on a firm's website will provide a good overview of the core practice areas and the ethos of the firm, but also try following the firm's social media accounts; Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. and delve down into individual fee earner's profiles and social media to see what they are talking about on a day-to-day basis. Personally, as a trainee I would have been flattered to receive a call or e-mail from an interested candidate, so if you're feeling brave why not ask for a coffee and a chat with one of the trainees to find out more?
5. Just be honest: Although your performance is being evaluated on an assessment day and at interview, this is your legal career and it is a mutual decision whether you and the firm will be a good fit. Be confident in your abilities and sell your qualities. Have a think about what makes you different – why would you be great for the firm and in particular, why would you be great working with their clients? If it's meant to be, it will be.
Best of luck!