Updated 25 February 2019
Training contract application questions tips
Whether you are applying for vacation schemes or training contracts the good news is that you can be certain the question 'why do you want to become a solicitor' will come up in the application forms. However, the bad news is that this question often is hard to be broken down into words. So how to articulate a convincing answer to this law firms favorite interview question? Here's our guide on how to answer why do you want to be a solicitor.
1. Understand the purpose
The starting point has to be understanding the question being asked. We often advise the easiest way to understand a question is by actually start asking yourself why you are being asked that very question. By taking this approach you will be able to grasp the aim of the question and get into the mindset of the interviewer thereby giving yourself a much better chance to provide a compelling answer.
2. Why law?
An alternative way to prepare yourself for this question is by looking at other alternative career paths perhaps that you have considered and why those career choices did not interest you. This could help you narrow down some reasons related specifically to you why a career in law would be best suited. Sometimes interviewees are asked to explain their reasons for wanting to become a solicitor as opposed to a barrister, so a good starting point may be to look at what's the difference between a barrister and a solicitor.
3. Relevant legal experience
The reality is that if you have no previous experience, which provided you with an insight into the role of a solicitor, it is unlikely you will be to answer the question and more importantly back it up with relevant examples. You need to get a handle on what does a solicitor do. Make sure you gain sufficient legal experience to give yourself a better chance to successfully navigate through the law interviews. You will need to look beyond formal law placements and explore other less known avenues in obtaining legal work experience.
4. Make it personal
A compelling answer to this question will always be linked to a personal experience or skill set that you have. If you are going to simply use answers you find online used by other students, you are not going to stand out and, therefore, unlikely to convince the interviewers. You will need to demonstrate your own reasons why you are interested in law and how those reasons match with the firm's expectations. Herbert Smith Freehills has put together a very helpful video by looking closely at good answers and more generic ones, which do not make it past the interview stage.
5. Showcase skills required by a solicitor
Aside from linking the answer to personal experience, you could discuss a particular set of skills that you have, which are requisite for a solicitor. Pick one or two core skills required and provide a compelling answer by explaining how you have developed those skills and why you think they will be important in a solicitor role. For instance, you could discuss negotiating skills you have developed through a workshop you attended at University and this will be a plausible answer because is personal to you and backed up with relevant examples.
6. Why a solicitor at this law firm
A strong answer to this question will not only cover why you want to be a solicitor but crucially why at the firm you applied to. You will need to research the firm thoroughly and list your own personal reasons for wanting to work for this firm. If you are going to breakdown your answer in two parts, one being why you want to become a solicitor and second why a solicitor at this firm this is bound to impress the interviewers as it will indicate you have come well prepared. Do not be afraid to memorize your answer word by word. Firms do like applicants coming prepared and if you have prepared answers prior to the interview this can only work in your favor as confirmed in this video.
Knowing that this question will come up can only benefit you, so take full advantage of it and go in the interview well prepared. Such is the importance of this question that it can often determine between a successful and unsuccessful outcome of the interview.
Legal recruiter and blogger @purelegaljobs
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