14 June 2017
Your next step as a newly qualified solicitor is a hugely important one and marks the culmination of years of study and hard work. In order to secure an NQ position that is not within the firm you have served your traineeship with, you will have to go to interview. This type of interview will be incredibly different to the one which secured your traineeship.
By this point, you will have begun to piece together your professional network and undergo continuous professional development. Your first steps in to life as an NQ will be to reflect and build on what you have already achieved and learned. The transition from trainee to NQ may well be equal parts scary and exciting, but it is a good time to think about the career path you wish to take.
During your two year traineeship, it probably felt like a lot of late nights. But, if you think about the particular cases and transactions you were involved in – perhaps you went to court, led a client meeting or even represented your firm at a career fair – you’ll have learned to work in a new environment and adjusted your skills accordingly.
The soft skills that a traineeship allows you to fine tune (time management, problem solving, stress control) are also crucial as you take your career forward.
As previously mentioned, the job interview to secure an NQ role will be different to your traineeship. It is a mix of a competency-based interview and your skills-to-date (largely to be found on your CV). Without trying to evoke fear, you need to nail it. Competition will be fierce. So, have a think about what really separates your work and attitude from everyone else’s.
Preparation is key. Research the firm thoroughly, be able to clearly illustrate your successes and potential and practise through mock interviews. Know your CV inside out and be able to structure your answers succinctly so that your skill set is clear within the opening few sentences. A new firm want to find out about you so make sure your answers clearly refer to your involvement in a project, not just “the team”.
Some of the key points for NQ interviews include:
- You almost need to put together a separate portfolio for each seat that you have undertaken, highlighting key successes and involvement.
- An interviewer will look see what skills/knowledge was gained in each seat – this can be tricky as you are still a trainee so are not let loose but still need show that you took ownership of pieces of work.
- Demonstrate your problem-solving skills and how you handle complex transactions / scenarios.
- Highlight why you are looking to qualify into a specific area (why that area of law is of particular interest). This will require some research and learning on your part.
The thorough nature of NQ interviews does mean that preparation, note making, research and well-thought out answers are the way to tackled them head on. Try not to supply the interviewer with the most obvious answers, or the ones you think they want to hear. Do your homework and have a think about what certain elements of the job mean to you. Similarly, why do you want to work for the firm in question? Is it their reputation, the type of cases the tackle, their work ethic?
A recruiter will prepare you as much as possible in terms of insight in to the firm, what type of candidate they tend to like and so on. Culture fit is every bit as important as pursuing a career path.
HR Consultancy recruits for private practice and in-house organisations across Scotland. We have successfully placed a variety of candidates in large, small, and medium sized firms in many different areas of law and in-house roles.
If you are interested in securing an NQ position, our principal consultant, Meena Bahanda, would be delighted to help you take the next step in your career. Click here to see her details.
Written By Meena Bahanda