Blessing Mukosha Park
Pupillage interview season is upon us. In this blog post I outline the different ways you can prepare for a pupillage interview, both practically and mentally.
Fight the cringe: reread your application
The first thing you should do is reread your application. This might be a cringeworthy act for those who find it weird to reread their words. If this is you then you must get over this fast.
Think about it like this: your application opens a conversation with the chambers. Your invitation to an interview is the chambers’ opportunity to respond to your conversation opener and take the conversation further. They just want to get to know you, so it’s important for you to have a strong grasp over what they know about you so far. This will help you to be more in control during your interview because you can refer to what the panel has seen on your application as you’re speaking and you will know when you’re introducing new information.
These are all things that strong interview candidates can do. It doesn’t require any special talents to be able to do this; all you must do is read your application in good time before the interview and prioritise which parts you want to discuss and which things (if anything) have changed since you submitted your application. This last point is key: don’t make the mistake of failing to give the chambers a full and complete picture of what you’re doing and what you’ve got planned. A lot of time elapses between application and offer, so be proactive.
Plan your journey well ahead of time
This sounds obvious but don’t underestimate how easy it is to get travel plans wrong or for public transport to let you down. Use tools like Google Maps or Citymapper to plan your journey ahead of time and decide which route is best. If you want to put aside a second budget for taxis then you should also plan for this.
Arrive early! Early isn't 10 minutes before. You should aim to arrive 30 minutes to one hour before the scheduled time. Once you arrive, find somewhere close and in the area (eg, a café) to pass the time. Around 10 to 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time you should arrive at the chambers ready to interview (unless you are required to be there earlier for an assessment). This will help to shield you against any potential travel or navigation disasters, wardrobe disasters, as well as other circumstances that could potentially arise and throw you off your game. Don't be victim to an unfortunate series of events before your interview. With enough time accounted for you can be prepared for most things.
Remember that if you have a full-time job, you should ensure you can take time off for weekday interviews. Don’t use all your holiday just yet! If you don’t have this sorted, it could cause unnecessary stress and it is important that you are feeling as calm as possible ahead of your interview.
Think of questions you have for the panel
Pupillages are gold dust but that doesn’t mean you are a passive participant in the application process. You should make sure you know what knowledge you want to leave the interview with. Almost every panel will invite questions at the end of the session and it is at this point that you can ask your questions. For example, if you are a parent or someone with caring responsibilities you may want to clarify its policy on supporting pupils with these responsibilities. Alternatively, you may want the panel to clarify how the chambers calculated its guaranteed earnings figure and what financial planning support is offered to pupils (if any).
What you ask is up to you but make sure you know ahead of time whether there is anything specific you want to find out.
Trust yourself and be kind to yourself
The last essential preparation advice I have is to trust yourself. Don’t feel embarrassed if you said something you didn’t want to or did not perform as highly as you might have wished. As humans, mistakes will be made. You can remedy any fear over going off-piste by following the first piece of advice in this post and remembering who you are and what you have to say.
You should also be kind to yourself and avoid beating yourself up at any point during this process. Pupillage applications and interviews are just plain old difficult. Nobody enjoys this season and it is tough on all of us. You aren’t alien and will not be alone in your experiences.
After each interview (or even if it is a rejection) take some time to take care of and celebrate yourself. A loss can still be celebrated because you tried.
As always, good luck with your interviews. Make sure you have your motivational playlists fired up!