Interview to Offer to Acceptance

OK, you cleared your CV to go to a job you are interested in and your recruitment consultant has worked his (or ‘her’ for that matter) magic and the respective law firm has called you for interview. You can’t remember the last time you interviewed or perhaps you have interviewed lately but just cannot do enough to get to offer stage. Well, let’s start from the beginning and see if you have missed anything. First of all, I hope you informed your consultant from the outset how easy it would be for you to attend interview. Did you remember to tell him about any holidays you may have booked already?

Your consultant will discuss with you the availability of the interviewers. Pick the day and get your holiday request in ASAP. Remember that time kills deals and if you cannot make the days suggested and you are only able to attend many days after, there is every chance you may miss the boat. If that job you have applied for is time critical a prospective employer will rarely wait for you when they have other candidates to see.

Once the date is in the diary you should usually get an email with the address for attendance and who you will be meeting. You now have to do the following:

1
Browse the prospective employer website. Get to grips with how large the law firm is (have a look on Solicitors online, www.lawsociety.org.uk/find-a-solicitor). You should read about the specific department.
2
If available, read up on their website about the interviewers. Most law firm websites will have profiles on the Partners and possibly, the Associates or team leaders. If they don’t your recruiter will try their very best to obtain any information that may help you. The chances are they may know them. Your recruiter will already have given you a job description of some sorts.
3
The next tip may sound obvious but seriously, be familiar with your own CV.
4
Be clued up on the latest authorities or changes that affect the area of law that you are in. You will no doubt have your own opinion on certain aspects. You would be showing that you are able to think on your own two feet, be assertive.
5
On the day of the interview, apart from looking presentable and arriving in good time, you need to make sure that no matter what, you are yourself. On arrival at the prospective employers’ office a good idea on how to gauge the culture there is to take a moment to look at the employees passing you by in the reception area (are they smiling?). If they are not too busy, speak to the receptionist, build up a rapport, as they can often give you an idea of what the culture is like. By being discrete you can even subtly ask what the interviewer you are meeting is like. Once in the interview room, make sure you sit forward and project your voice to give the interviewer the understanding that you are a confident candidate. The interviewers will have your CV and they will know what your current salary is. Do not feel obliged to discuss salary expectations. Better to stick to saying that you would expect a rate commensurate to others at the same level as you at the interviewers firm but, more to the point, market rate. However, believe it or not, not everyone moves employer for the sake of an increase in money. People’s circumstances vary.
6
Have two or three questions of your own to ask the interviewers towards the end of the interview. For example, ask the interviewer how does the firm in question evaluate its people? What gets rewarded within the firm? Essentially, what do employees get recognised for? Do not be afraid to ask the interviewers when they intend to make a decision, whether there will be a second interview (the chances are you will know through your recruitment agent if it is a two- stage process) and of course, when they envisage second interviews will take place if required.
7
After the interview, call your consultant as soon as possible. It is vital that the consultant gets your feedback. Indeed, I always like to have the feedback of the candidate first before speaking to the prospective employer for theirs. If you have any questions you forgot to ask, reservations, or indeed, you feel you failed to get a specific point across which may have been misunderstood, tell your consultant so that he can sort things out sooner rather than later.
8
Second interviews sometimes require you to meet other members of the department, make sure you prepare exactly the same as the first interview. Usually there is at least one interviewer there who you will recognise from the first interview. Sometimes you are also invited to meet members of the team who you would be working with. This allows you to ask them questions about their work experience and to allow you to judge for yourself whether the team is actually a happy one.
9
Should you get to offer stage you will have a rough idea as to whether you will be accepting. If you want the role, give a verbal acceptance subject to receipt of an offer letter. You certainly do not want to be sitting on an offer for longer than a week once it is in your hands. If you are in the enviable position of having a couple of offers on the table or, perhaps, you have just received one offer and you are expecting another very soon (possibly through another agent), you need to be up front with your consultant (possibly both consultants) as to which firm is your first choice. If there are any further questions, whether it is negotiation of salary or any other benefit, let your consultant know so that he can do the negotiating.
10
Once you are happy with the offer letter and any negotiations have been completed satisfactory, it will be time to hand in your notice, as you will want your notice period to start ticking away. You can sometimes negotiate a reduction in your notice period. Be aware also of your current employer trying to buy you back. If this happens you need to reflect on why you decided to move in the first place. You may be offered more money by your current employer or a promotion but you need to ask yourself whether the issues that bothered you will really go away. If not you will only be looking to move again within six months to a year. It will give them more time to find your replacement.
11
Finally, phone up your interviewers and thank them. Send any other recruiters you were working with an email to inform them you no longer require their services. As for the recruiter who found you the job, write him a glowing testimonial.

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