in Careers Advice, Interviews

Legal Job Interview Question and Answer – Are you hoping for specialisation in a particular field. If so, why?

Advice

This is a loaded question and one you need to be very careful about answering.  If you are applying for a junior post, for example a training contract with a solicitors’ firm, you really should not be giving any indication at this stage of an interest to specialise in.  You simply do not know what the company has in mind for you either at this or any later stage and could leave yourself open to being discounted simply because you have expressed an interest or preference.

This does happen and can lead to your application being rejected. At all stages of the recruitment process you need to make sure that you keep the same response and to avoid almost obliging the company to count you out of the running.

If however you are going for a more senior role then it would be quite acceptable to indicate that you are looking to specialise in one particular area if the post you are applying for warrants this.

For example if you were applying for a senior role with a fair amount of scope for your own job specification, which is usually more likely in medium sized businesses as opposed to large corporates or smaller sized companies, it would be acceptable in a number of circumstances to actually indicate where you know it is likely there will be this opportunity. If in doubt however air on the side of caution and indicate that you are happy to consider all work that falls within your remit.

Examples of Answers

“No.  At this stage in my career I simply want to learn from the best and give my all which is why I have applied to your company for this position. Obviously in future if the opportunity arose and I felt I had sufficient experience in one area to make a decision to specialise this may be a route I take.”

Or;

“No. I am too junior to consider specialising in one particular field although obviously as my career progress this may well change in the future but not in the short to medium term.”

Or;

“Yes.  I understand that this role gives me the opportunity to consider specialising whilst obviously still concentrating on providing support and assistance where required and I would like to consider specialising in the medium term in personnel development rather than general HR. Training is a particular are that appeals to me and I would welcome the chance to concentrate more on that in the future. However for the time being I am quite interested in the role that you have on offer and I am more than happy to do more work as required.”

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 17 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at www.legalcareercoaching.co.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk