How do you start asking questions

"When can you start with us?" - Tips for the successful application process

Applying successfully - a challenging topic in itself, as the abundance of guides, books and seminars on the market shows. In addition, job interviews with lawyers are subject to special features that are due to the long training path: Due to the practical experience and the orientation phases in the legal clerkship, a certain "standing" of the applicants is expected. After at least 6 years of training, every candidate should know his or her goals and have a sharper focus on the essential issues. The more professional experience the applicant has, the stronger these requirements become.

The good news: With the right preparation and the appropriate assessment of each application stage, the candidates often have more control than they think to make the application process successful.

Stage 1: The job selection

Many applications simply fail due to incorrect preparation. According to the motto “Try makes you smart”, applications as bulk goods are aimlessly sent to potential employers who can hardly avoid the rush. The consequences are fatal in two respects: The candidate remains without a (new) job - and can be frustrated by the rejection that can actually be foreseen beforehand.

As an applicant, ask yourself the following questions before each application: What added value do I bring to the law firm / company? Why am i interesting? And hand on heart: would I hire myself from the perspective of the potential employer?
Only when you can answer these questions positively should you prepare the individual written application, which in turn addresses the aforementioned points in detail.

Stage 2: The written application

Lawyers in particular are expected to be brief, concise and concise. In the application you should therefore concentrate on the points that, according to your information, are relevant for the job advertisement. Why are you suitable for the position, both professionally and personally? And the supreme discipline: why are you possibly more so than your competitors? It would surely go beyond this framework to present the principles of the written application comprehensively. However, here are some tips specifically for “legal” résumés:

  • Always adapt your application documents individually to the position and law firm or company.
  • Enter your specialist area and state the specific focus of your current position. If you have not already had many years of professional experience, you should also specify your specialist area and focus of activity at the elective and legal traineeship.
  • Please omit trainee positions at the public prosecutor's office and administration as long as they are not decisive for the position to be filled.
  • When specifying the number of points for your exam, only state your overall grade so as not to confuse the reader. After all, the state examination part is decisive for the future employer.
  • Please also do not leave your Abitur grade unmentioned in your résumé - this rounds off the overall impression.
  • Invest money in a professional application photo.
  • When entering your contact details, make sure that you check your email account regularly and that you can also be reached by phone at the number provided.

Stage 3: The interview

Congratulations! At this level you have been assessed as "potentially suitable", at least based on your paper form. Nevertheless, numerous applications fail due to the hurdle of personal interview. A common stumbling block especially for young professionals and inexperienced applicants: They get caught up in contradictions more quickly or react completely unprepared and unsettled at important points, for example with previous client relationships or with portable business.

At this level, two critical success factors can be identified: the right, comprehensive preparation and the convincing self-presentation. The latter in particular should not simply contain your CV, but should provide information about you as a person and personality. What are your motivations? Why did you go your way as it is in the CV? How do you deal with challenges and failures? Very important: Why do you want to work for your counterpart - and why should he want to hire you?

As simple as the points mentioned above sound, a confident and convincing self-presentation can rarely be found in practice. Presentation training, ideally with video analysis, offers particularly professional and effective support.

Stage 4: The follow-up

Especially with regard to further discussions - be it with the same employer or for further application procedures - it is essential to deal intensively with the conversation afterwards. Make notes on the same day or the next day at the latest:

  • Who were your interlocutors?
  • Were there any special features?
  • What would you like to address in a second interview?
  • How was the further process agreed? Who will contact whom and when?
  • Do the job and law firm or company match your expectations? If not, what exactly is bothering you?

And in preparation for further application procedures:

  • How have your preparations been useful?
  • What was missing from your preparations?
  • What did you not expect?
  • What would you like to improve in the future?

Because with the right follow-up, even a conversation that led to a rejection can bring you a step closer to your next job.

More information, tips and literature tooEducationandLegal clerkship can be found at

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