I strongly advise against scripting your answers when preparing for a job interview.
I know the temptation for many lawyers. Write out a series of long-form answers to specific interview questions that you predict might be asked. Then rehearse them and attempt to memorise them word for word.
Having put many lawyers through interviews over the years, I can tell you it's easy to spot scripted answers.
In this article, I will explain the risks of scripting your answers and what you should do instead.
The sad thing is, scripted answers rarely achieve what the candidate is hoping for. In fact, they often don't effectively answer the question in the unique way it is asked.
Another consequence of scripted answers is they leave a poor impression in the recruiter's mind. They will doubt your ability to think on your feet and to react to on-the-spot questions fired at you from clients and colleagues.
This is critical to your success as a lawyer so don't sow the seeds of doubt by giving overly rehearsed answers.
What To Do Instead?
The key to preparing for interviews is to treat them like a presentation. You need a skeleton outline for a presentation but you should never script the whole thing.
The subject of this interview presentation is you. The difference from a regular presentation is you will deliver it in bite-sized chunks, in whatever order is appropriate given the questions asked.
When you leave the interview you would hope to have found the opportunity to deliver most of the key presentation points.
A good presentation stems from the effective planning of each section built around a compelling skeleton. What you're aiming for is a set of bullet points and key facts to remember around your skeleton.
The actual wording you use to deliver each section can differ each time. This way it will sound natural, yet organised and structured.
Whilst we are not trying to learn a script, it's still advisable to practice your potential answers (or "presentation" sections) before the big day. This will help you get the skeleton memorised. Also, you may find you stumble across a few impactful turns of phrase you might re-use at the interview.
It's like when you had exams coming up at uni. You would revise the subject and distil it to bullet points, mindmaps or some other summary form. You wouldn't try to learn your essays off by heart so you could duplicate them word for word.
The words you used in your essays would be unique and natural. Yet, you would have recycled the ideas you put across from your structured revision to fit the question asked.
Resist the Temptation to Script
Next time you are tempted to write out long-form answers to interview questions, stop!
Instead, put your efforts into identifying what you have to offer and the evidence you have to support this. Then plan the information you want to share with the interviewer around this and create an outline in a form that works for you.
Only then is it time to rehearse and practice delivering your "presentation" sections in your unique and different words each time.
Want some interview practice?
If you would like to practice delivering your interview "presentation" I offer tailored practice interviews as part of my lawyer interview coaching programme.F