Multinational US law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP took to DebutLive to talk all about being yourself in a job interview, and provided Debut users with some golden insights into what makes a successful interview. From what to wear, to letting your personality shine, Graduate Recruitment Manager Paul and Trainee Solicitor Jeniz provided some invaluable advice which is guaranteed to help you nail that next interview. Missed out? Don’t worry, you can watch the whole thing back on the DebutLive tab of the app now. 📲
Paul is involved in multiple aspects of the Shearman & Sterling recruitment process, from application to interview, and he was keen to bust some myths about what the law firm is looking for: “We want people to be individuals, we want people to show their personality. The candidates that really stand out are the ones that offer something different, and bringing your personality out in an interview is usually the best place to do that.”
Jeniz was quick to confirm that the law firm is not as corporate and formal as you might think: “I originally thought it was going to be a really scary interview process and they were going to grill me and ask all these tough questions. Don’t get me wrong, there were some tough questions, but it was more of an opportunity for them to get to know a bit more about me and my personality and why I had chosen them. It was really quite informal and friendly, and I was quite surprised.”
You guys had plenty of questions to ask the pair all about interviews and the Shearman & Sterling selection process, so many that we didn’t have time to get through them all during the live stream! Have no fear though, we caught up with Paul and Jeniz after the event to get answers to the rest. 👍
Is there a restriction to how honest you can be in an interview?
This will be a judgement call for you to make. If you focus on being professional and your motivations are true – then being honest should only be a positive.
Will the fact that I’m doing a GDL instead of a straight Law degree affect my application?
No, not at all. Many of our trainees did the GDL route.
I got an ABB at A level, will this affect my application considering the minimum requirements set out?
Unfortunately yes. The minimum entry criteria is AAB at A-Level.
What if you have achieved good results throughout your degree but your A-levels were not the best they could have been?
You will need to meet the minimum academic requirements for both A-Levels and undergraduate degree.
How do you suggest answering a question such as ‘What are your life goals?’
Answer them honestly! Questions like this aren’t a trick – they are simply asked to understand your future plans and career ambitions.
Should you take the opportunity of working in a completely different sector to the one you dream of working in when at university?
I’d say pretty much all work experience is relevant. The key is to pull out the transferable skills during the application and interview and make them relevant for the job you are applying for. We have more information about the importance of work experience on our website.
How do you approach the ‘What do you know about this company?’ question?
This is your opportunity to give a summary of your thoughts about the company/firm. Remember, don’t simply repeat what’s on the website and keep it to a couple of minutes. Try to pick out the things that have stood out to you and don’t be afraid to give your own interpretation.
Where is the line between being confident in an interview, and coming across as arrogant?
Being confident and be arrogant are two separate things. For example you could come across as confident in an interview by knowing your strengths and explaining using examples some of your key achievements as a result of your strengths. However, you may come across as arrogant if you try to explain your strengths by being critical of others, or downplaying the work of your peers in teamwork questions for example.
What do Shearman & Sterling consider the top three traits that a candidate needs to ace an interview?
Sorry Sam, but it’s not that simple! You will be assessed on a range of competencies e.g. ability to analyse, commercial awareness, teamwork, communication etc. They are all important and there’s no ‘top 3’.
How ‘individual’ should I be when dressing for an interview? Should I stay smart or can I add a bit of my personality ?
It’s always best to be smart when attending interviews, unless the firm/organisation have specifically told you otherwise.
Stay tuned and keep checking the app, as our next DebutLive will be with Rolls-Royce on Wednesday 4th October, all about their commitment to diversity and how to thrive as a female engineer.