Interviewing Etiquette

Essential Interview Etiquette for Solicitors and Lawyers

Interview etiquette advice for solicitors

We are frequently asked for advice on interview etiquette and guidance on what to expect to deal with at interview. In fact, even if people don’t ask, we make it our obligation to raise the subject.Recruiting in the Professional Services sector it is perfectly normal to simply assume that our candidate will perform professionally, however consider this, as recruiters we:

  • Arrange thousands of interviews a year
  • Collect as much information on the interview process, the interviewers, the role and the client as possible
  • Fully prepare all our candidates for their interview and follow up with each one of them on how the interview went after completion
  • Discuss our candidate with the interviewing client ahead of the interview and we discuss what the candidate might expect to encounter during the interview
  • Discuss how the completed interview went with the client in terms of pros and cons

Clearly in recruitment we are experts in interview preparation. Our role is to give our candidates the best possible advice to perform to the best of their ability. Whilst all interviews will vary in content, style and objectives, some principles remain constant:


  • Plan your journey leaving extra time to cover for unforeseen delays; never be late
  • Formal business dress is essential, a cliché maybe, but dress to impress. Pay attention to the details
  • Know the company/firm. No excuses here with Google, company website, industry press etc.
  • Read up on the interviewers
  • Prepare a few questions about the company, the role and the interviewer
  • Arrive no more than 10 minutes ahead of the meeting
  • Turn your phone to silent
London skyline

The Interview

  • Greet interviewer/s with a handshake (no “wet lettuce” or “bone crunchers”) and a smile
  • Listen carefully to questions and answer clearly without flannel
  • The interview is a 2-way process, please ask questions
  • Research common interview questions such as:

What is your 5-year goal?
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
What are your aspirations for partnership?
What BD work do you do?
What do your clients say about you?

  • Be prepared to answer questions on your chargeable hours, charge out rate, pro-bono contribution, utilisation and realisation, examples of BD work and examples of clients you have successfully won
  • When you have answered be quiet and wait for the next question do not feel you have to ramble on to fill the silence
  • Maintain polite eye contact without staring aggressively
Meeting with documents on table

Advice from the interviewers

  • Don’t try to be funny
  • Don’t be evasive
  • Don’t over explain or over elaborate
  • Be truthful, if you are unable to answer a question explain how you would go about finding the answer
  • Do not be derogatory about your present employer
  • Listen carefully to questions
  • Remember you can smile
  • Prepare questions to assist with the flow of the interview, ask about the role and how it fits with existing employees, the reporting structure, the clients and the opportunity to progress
  • Be enthusiastic about getting to know about the role
  • Have a copy of your CV to hand

What really puts hirers off

  • Lack of genuine interest shown in the firm or role
  • Evasive answers
  • Lack of commercial knowledge
  • Scruffy or untidy appearance
  • Dirty shoes
  • Bad time keeping
  • Lack of eye contact


  • Ask what will happen next and when
  • Ask the interviewers if there is anything else they would like to know.
  • Thank the interviewers for their interest in you and don’t be afraid to tell them if you are keen on the role. “From what I’ve seen and heard I think I would really fit in well here”


John has specialised in the London legal recruitment market for over 10 years. Prior to joining Origin Legal in 2006, he worked for a well known city executive search firm in their legal team covering the city market. John works closely with a broad range of firms and covers all sectors in the market but has a leaning towards litigation and corporate in particular. He has assisted lawyers at all levels in the City and takes pride in offering honest and unbiased advice.
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your career opportunities.
Telephone +44 (0)1206 233 500
Email [email protected]


Origin Legal produces a range of information to assist lawyers in both the strategic and technical aspects of making a career move.
We hope you find this document useful. Please do contact us on +44 (0)1206 233500 if you would like to discuss any of the information in more detail. For further resources please refer to our website