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Interview tips for lawyers making the move In-House

Interviewing for an in-house role can be a vital turning point in your legal career whether you are a junior lawyer or a lawyer with a number of year experience under your belt. When you secure an interview for an in-house position, we advise that you take a different approach potentially to how you would prepare for an interview with another law firm. Here are our top 3 tips. 

1. Thoroughly Research the Role

As with all interviews, preparation is key. In-house hiring managers are likely to have a high level of expectation that you will have done your homework on the business and the role. Having an understanding of company formation, size, products and commercial strategy is essential and in the digital age that we live in, this information is easily accessible. However, you also need to be prepared to go the extra mile. What do their customers think of them? What is their stock value? Do they have plans for expansion? It’s essential that you impress the interviewers but also that you demonstrate why your experience and skill-set are a good match.  You will need to ask the interviewers specific questions about what your role would be in the organisation? What other teams are you likely to interact with? These are all essential questions that not only demonstrate enthusiasm but also allow you to assess if this is the legal job for you. 

If you know of anyone who currently works for the company or has previously worked with them, then this presents an excellent opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge, notably of the company’s policies and culture. At Thomson Legal, we spend a lot of our time really getting to know our clients and we are naturally also a good ‘sounding board’ for asking questions and getting a better feel for the company and hiring manager. 

 2. Stay Focused on This Role

A lot of candidates can be frustrated when they have not been made an offer when interviewing for an in-house role. What can be the cause of this?  In some occasions, it comes down to competition and simply someone with better, more relevant experience getting the job. However, the most common feedback we receive from clients is that while a candidate may have great credentials, they were unsuccessful as the client felt that there was a lack of focus on their vacancy. This can often be caused by talking too much about your reasons for leaving your current role or your long- term career aspirations, rather than keeping it on point and not giving the interviewer the feeling that this role may be a stepping stone or that the focus is simply ‘to move in-house’.  Of course, there is a time and place to take about future career goals but it’s important to keep the focus on the role you are interviewing for. 

3. Be Prepared to Explain Your Career Path

No everyone’s legal career path has been traditional. It is important that you are able to clearly explain any gaps, changes of trajectories and the successes and failures you may have had in your various roles. This will entail a more thorough preparation prior to the interview. You will have to reflect on your past and present role and think about what you have achieved so far, as well as think of any aspects of your CV which may look like weaknesses and be ready to be asked about it by the interviewers.

With 20 years’ experience placing lawyers with leading law firms and in-house legal teams in Scotland & Ireland, Thomson Legal is here to assist you in taking the next step in your legal career.

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