Top tips to pupillage interview success

02 Mar 2021

Olivia Davies – who joined Cornerstone Barristers as a tenant in October 2020 after successful completion of pupillage – shares her top five tips on how to master pupillage interviews:

1)  Look at the criteria published on the Chambers’ website against which candidates are assessed and prepare a range of STAR (Situation, Task, Action Result)* examples of times you have demonstrated those qualities. Try to pick examples which you can use flexibly in response to a number of questions. (*if you haven’t heard of this, it will be your best friend in any interview you will ever have.)

2) Preparation is key – but not to the extent that your answers become robotic. While you should have in mind those STAR examples you’ve prepared, you shouldn’t memorise whole answers verbatim to then regurgitate at interview. It will be obvious if you do this, unless your acting skills are so strong that you should be applying to RADA as well as for pupillage!

3) When it comes to problem questions/legal analysis tests, the important thing to keep in mind is not to be afraid of giving a particular answer as long as you give your reasons for it. There is rarely one “right” answer in the law and having confidence in your own legal analysis is a crucial part of being a barrister.

4) Don’t hide your personality – while you should remember that an interview is a formal setting, it’s a positive thing to let the panel see what kind of person you are. People skills are a really important part of the job, so if you have them, show them to their best advantage!

5) It may seem counter-intuitive – but try to enjoy yourself! I came away from the interview at which I secured pupillage feeling both that I had been challenged but that it had been a really enjoyable experience where everything felt like it had slotted into place. While I’m a firm believer that a bit of nerves are necessary, try to remember that the more relaxed you are, the better you’ll perform.