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Preparing for an interview

By: Gina Perrotto| Graduate Resourcing Consultant
Sydney Office

I joined the Clayton Utz Graduate Team in June 2022, with a degree in International Business and experience in graduate recruitment across the professional services industry. I enjoy being involved on campus and helping students at all levels prepare to apply and interview for our programs. One of my favourite parts of my role is that I am able to continue to support our Graduates once they join the firm and see how their careers develop. Outside of work I love exploring the many Sydney coastal walks and trying new restaurants around the city.

Congratulations, you've been invited in for an interview! To maximise your performance during an interview, preparation is key.

To help you prepare, I've listed below some of my top tips:

1) Research the firm

  • Know what the firm does, where they operate and who their major clients are. You can find this information on the website, social media channels and in news articles.
  • Understand the core values of the firm, and reflect on real life examples where you have demonstrated these.
  • Take note of which practice group(s) you are interested in, and practice articulating what interests you about them in a clear and concise manner (we'll want to hear it).

2) Research the role and why it appeals to you

  • You will likely be asked in an interview why you're interested in the role. Be prepared to explain this!
  • Consider rotations, training & development opportunities, and how your values/interests align.

3) List down real life examples where you have demonstrated key requirements of the role

  • You will be asked to share examples of times when you've demonstrated certain behaviours/abilities. So think about the best examples that highlight this.
  • Don't be afraid to talk about examples where the outcome wasn't quite what you expected or got the desired result. In these instances, ensure you share what lessons you learned or perhaps what you would do differently next time!
  • Below are some common themes you may come across in interviews:
    • Conflict management and/or resolution
    • Time management
    • Prioritisation
    • Leadership
    • Ambiguity
    • Embracing diversity & inclusion

4) Know how to articulate your answers using the STAR technique

  • The STAR technique is a common technique that allows you to explain your example in a clear and concise manner. It stands for:
    • S - Situation: tell the interviewers about the situation you were in
    • T - Task: tell the interviewers what the specific task that you were required to complete
    • A - Action: tell the interviewers what the specific action was that you took
    • R - Result: share the result/outcome with the interviewers
  • Often students talk about group based activities, which is okay, however remember to highlight the specific role that you played in that situation and how your actions ultimately contributed to the final result.
  • Consider using examples from various aspects of your life, whether that's work, sport, music, theatre, home, etc. This helps to demonstrate your well roundedness and adaptability too.
  • Check out the link for some further information about the STAR technique:

5) Write a list of the questions that you want to ask

  • Towards the end of an interview, you will be given the opportunity to ask any questions you have. To show interest and your listening skills about the company and role, arm yourself with at least 3-4 ready in advance.
  • Consider asking questions that will allow you to determine whether this role is the right fit for you - remember that the interview is meant to help the firm determine your suitability for the role. And it's equally an opportunity for you to assess your own interest in working there!
  • Work out what is important to you, and frame questions in a way that allows you to gain this information.

6) Practice, practice, practice!

  • Ask a friend or family member to ask you some typical interview questions so you can practice your answers. Ask them to give you feedback on:
    • your content - was it relevant to the question?
    • your pace - did you speak too fast? or too slow?
    • your volume - did you speak too loudly? or too softly?
    • your delivery - did you speak clearly and concisely? was it engaging? do you sound confident?
  • To help get you started, here are some common questions you might be asked in an interview that you can practice with:
    • Why do you want to work for the firm?
    • What attracts you to this role?
    • Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a difficult stakeholder. How did you manage them?
    • Tell us about a time when your team was not performing. How did you motivate and lead the team to improve their performance?
    • Tell us about a time when you received vague instructions for a task and didn't know how to proceed. What did you do to gain clarity?

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