SD Legal Ltd.
Suite 137, 13/F
52 Wellington Street
Central, Hong Kong
+852 3752 0529
In-House – Preparation Support
Communication is 30% verbal, and 70% non-verbal so ensure you maintain good posture throughout the interview
and that your body language is both positive and open. Look the part, smile, sit upright, maintain eye contact and
Step 1 – Before the interview!
Preparation: - This will make a difference to how you perform. Reading through shareholder reports and the latest
news about the company is an absolute minimum. I will also help you kick start this process by sending you links to
the company and interviewers profile, have a look over and see if you have a shared interest (sports, university).
Practice with your recruiter: - The goal is to help you articulate your CV in a high impact / to the point statement,
giving you the chance to put your personality across without going into waffle mode. Your recruiter is (hopefully)
the expert; use him/her for practice sessions.
The Interview - CV
Goal = high impact opening statement that is 3-5 minutes long.
The over-riding advice here is to do what makes you feel relaxed and comfortable, adding rigid structure can cover
up one of the most important parts to the interview, you and specifically your personality. However, after
conducting 1000’s of interviews here is my fail-safe option.
• Everyone knows the importance of building rapport. Before I attend a meeting, I make sure to look at news
about the company, industry and where possible to review the persons background via a company website
or LinkedIn. From here you can work out important topics to discuss, nationality, education, possible clubs
you are both members etc.
• If someone asked me the best way to explain a CV, I would always advise chronological order. The reasons
o Run through your CV as a timeline, along the way you can insert elements that show you as a person
and not just a CV (explained more below).
o How well can you articulate clearly what you did in 2009 compared with 2019 and more to the
point, which is of more importance?
• Begin with education and qualifications, this is your chance to show parts that make up you and your
personality, be sure to include overseas travel, living in new cultures, milestones.
• As you move onto the work experience start with your first role and briefly explain the details of the job.
As you move through each role increase the detail until you reach your current/latest role. This really should
be where you rally the high impact elements touching on geographical coverage, team management, duties
and any major achievements.
Things to avoid:
• Try to avoid talking about movement on your cv. Remember this is an opening high impact statement and
if they want to know more, trust me they will ask.
• Do not waffle at the end. Find a way to bring the interviewer back into the conversation so that the meeting
becomes 2 way and thus, relationship building. Try the following “that’s a brief explanation about my
background, I welcome any questions you may have”.
Things you must know about your CV (they may ask):
• Your CV is your life, do not fabricate and make sure you can explain everything listed in detail.
• Why you moved from each company through your entire career.
• Why you are looking to leave the current role.
• What type of role / company / team you are interested in finding.
• Long term career progression – expectations.
• Current salary and salary expectations.
Step 2 – Further Technical and Behavioural Questions!
Whether this is a question about a legal transaction or a question on how you handle difficult situations, getting a
clear high impact answer can prove tricky. The following is how you structure a clear answer.
• Always give a real life example. Do not fall into the trap of giving hypothetical answers.
• Try and show what you did through the example, words such as ‘I’ are good, ‘we’ not so good.
• Start with the Beginning. Here you can explain what the problem was, who was involved and why.
• The Middle part will demonstrate what YOU did to turn the situation around / complete the transaction.
• Think about how you navigated issues and used your relationship managing skills to defuse escalating
• Finally, the END. Always explain the outcome and if successful and revenue generating, tell the interviewer
Here is a list of questions relevant for the In-House market, take a look over and get your personalised answers
1. As a lawyer, tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize
2. What are your strengths / weaknesses (remember examples)?
3. As a lawyer, give me an example of innovation that you have brought to the legal team?
4. What is your view on technology and how this will impact In-House lawyers and the wider function?
5. Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills?
6. Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it?
7. How much of your time is spent on meetings about meetings? How do you manage your day to reduce
8. Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy or contract with which you did
9. Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done?
10. Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision?
11. What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
12. Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may
not have personally liked you (or vice versa)?
13. Tell me about a difficult decision you've made in the last year?
14. Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed?
15. Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset client or co-worker?
Step 3 – Your Questions
This is your final chance to a) get what you want from the meeting and b) leave a lasting impression.
Basic questions you can ask:
• What is your background (you may want to find a softer way to ask this question)? What was the reason
you joined XXX organisation? What is it about XXX that keeps you motivated?
• How is the legal team viewed by the business / senior management? How does the business interact with
the legal team?
• What are the opportunities in this role over the next 3 – 5 years?
• How do you see the company developing over the next 1 to 2 years?
• What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing your industry / company / team / department in the next
6 / 12 months?
Step 4 – Final Tips
What can go wrong?
• Salary questions are tough to answer, use your recruiter to work out how to make sure this is a win/win
for both you and the client.
• When you are asking questions at the end, make sure you have a ‘knock out’ question. For example,
reading something about the interviewer or company and asking an intelligent question shows you have
done your research. Remember, most interviewers are proud of their career and will happily / enjoy
sharing this with you.
• Don’t go into aggressive mode at the end of the interview by demanding to know the next steps. TRUST
me, if you are progressing to the next stage they will reach out through the appropriate channel.
• Finally – as you walk out of the interview, be sure to have reserved some of that relationship / spark
setting conversation to see you through to the lift. If not, it becomes a long silent walk and could take the
shine of what was a great interview. Simple question - what are your plans for the weekend?
Nathan Smith - MD
+852 6508 2202
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