In advance of the meeting you need to be clear on why you want to make the move in-house.
For some lawyers it is a secondment from their law firm that naturally leads them to conclude that their longer term career aspirations rest in-house.
Those who have not had the opportunity to experience an in-house environment have to convince the interviewer that they are a strong candidate despite not having a secondment under their belt.
Areas to focus on are your relationship-building skills; provide examples of how you have raised your profile externally and internally and talk about your successes. This is key to working in a corporate environment where legal advisors must engage and influence stakeholders to manage risk.
Think about the type of organisation that you want to work for. Be enthused about the product or service the company provides to ensure sustained interest in the role. Give thought to the type of team you want to work in: would you suit working with a modest team of lawyers or would a large department be a better fit? Once you have reconciled the organisations you want to work for you should have well-formed responses to questions about why you are interested in a role.
The structure of the interview can take various forms. It is not unusual to experience a three-tier interview process.
The first may be with a HR professional and so be prepared for competency-based questions such as ‘where have you faced conflict’? The interview with the general counsel or head of legal will be where you will undoubtedly feel more comfortable, because the line of questioning will be familiar and based around your legal skills and career. Be ready to talk about your recent matters and what you understand about the challenges of moving in-house and the challenges and implications for in-house teams following the James Hardie judgment.
A final interview may mean the opportunity to meet with some key stakeholders in the business and they will be keen to test your commerciality.
Above all keep calm, engaged and consider your responses. Finally, ask some well thought out questions. It is important to come across as not only interested but interesting!
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