Pupillage Interview – Top TipPepperells
The pupillage gateway for 2019 is now closed and all of you aspiring barristers will be eagerly awaiting a response from your desired sets. First of all, do not be disheartened if you do not get an interview – you do not know what that set was specifically looking for. Do not take it personally. Make sure you still apply to that chambers next time around as what they are looking for will change. For those of you who are offered an interview; here are some top tips to help you prepare.
- Know your application inside out: All that chambers know about you is what is on your application. The panel will have already composed a few questions from your application to test how true your answers are. So make sure you have read your application and think about what you may be asked. You are most likely to be asked about things on your application that set you aside from other candidates i.e a love of old cars; your running achievement or your interest in European board games.
- Do not memorise your answers, memorise the points: Most applications contain similar stock questions such as: “Why do you want to be a barrister?” “Why us?” “What skills do you have that make you the right candidate?”. You will have answered these questions in your application. Make sure that you practice your answers as these questions will come up in your interview. Do not learn them word-for-word. I was given a very helpful tip which was to make a spider diagram of the generic stock questions and under each question put three bullet points with one word each. Practice off this. You will remember the three bullet points and your answers will be fluid and natural rather than staged.
- Be specific: You will be asked why you are applying to this specific set. Do not fall into the trap of giving a generic answer as you will lose the room. Read everything on their website. Look up the most recent cases of their tenants; recent appointment to the bench/ silk; the areas of law you are specifically interested in that this chambers specialises in.
- Be prepared to argue the alternative proposition: Many applications contain a question where you are asked to argue for or against a statement. Practice the answer you have given but also be prepared to argue the alternative. For example, in your application you may have composed submissions to support the statement that the Magna Carta is still relevant today. Be prepared to argue that the Magna Carta is not relevant today.
- Be yourself: Being yourself can be very difficult when you are stressed and panicking. Try your absolute best to let your personality shine through. Remember your panel are looking for someone that they can work with on a day-to-day basis. Also, remember that if you are successful you will be working with these people for at least a year. You cannot pretend to be someone that you are not for a whole year.
- Learn the area: Due to the limited amount of pupillage’s available it is not uncommon for applicants to apply to places that they have not been. You need to do some research or you do not stand a chance. Find out three interesting facts about the area; three good restaurants you want to try; three famous people from the area you admire. You need to have something in the locker to drop into your interview to show that you know the area.
- Do not be afraid of silence: Interviews can be extremely stressful and when a question is asked it is very easy to panic and start talking. Do not panic. Take a moment and collect your thoughts. Ask for time to think if you need it. It is far better to take a bit of time than to give the impression that you cannot formulate a structured response.
- Sell yourself: Make sure that you are selling yourself because everyone else will be. Remember you are the only person in that room, no one else is going to do it for you!!
- Take advantage of mock interviews: If you are at university ask you lecturers to interview you. Most of the time they have sat in on pupillage interviews and know what questions to ask. You will find yourself much calmer in the real interview after some feedback.
- Only ask a question if it’s a good one: If you have a good question then by all means ask it but if not then do not as a question for the sake of it. If you could have found the answer on chambers website then you will do more harm than good by asking the question.
Finally, do not be disheartened if you feel like your interview did not go well. I left my final pupillage interview thinking that there was no way I would receive an offer. However, three hours later I had accepted pupillage. Do not try and second guess your panel, always ask for feedback and do not give up!