How to impress the C-Suite: General Counsel interview tips
How to impress the C-Suite: General Counsel interview tips

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Legal

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General

30/09/20

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A good interview is often overlooked by experienced lawyers, with the view that they are somewhat straightforward. For example; my client has seen my candidates CV thus my candidate knows that they’ve got the skills required. This seems simple, but it isn’t always the case, particularly as more and more businesses are choosing to bring their legal function in-house.They need to get it right the first time, interviews can be lengthy and tough for the candidate and expensive for businesses. With this in mind, I’ve penned my top tips for candidates interviewing for GC positions. Though these tips apply to anyone, they’re most relevant to General Counsel and Head of Legal when interviewing with C-Suite and non-legal stakeholders. Research goes a long wayThis goes without saying. You need to know everything you can about the business you’re interviewing for, your recruitment consultant will put some literature together for you, although it’s important to do your own research. For example; what’s the strategy of the business and do they have an existing legal function? Who’s interviewing you and what’s their background? Recent trading history and are they currently raising capital or going through M&A? All of the above will help you brush up on any particular technical areas that may arise. As ever, the more you research, the better prepared you’ll be. Showcasing your technical skillsYou’ve made it this far in your in-house career and it’s clear that your technical capability is going to be on-point. Nonetheless, you can fully expect to be thrown a curveball in an interview. Most of the time (when being asked a technical legal question by a non-legal stakeholder) their line of questioning will be influenced by recent activity or communication that they’ve had from their overpriced external counsel. So, how do you prepare for this? It’s a simple one,  a large part of preparing for an interview is to research your potential new employer’s recent trading history. This will give you some big clues as to what legal advice they’ve taken. Perhaps they’ve been involved in some tricky M&A work, maybe the not-so-recent changes in GDPR had a delayed impact or they’ve expanded their business to operate overseas. All of the above can be easily researched and a consultant will put together information for you to reference, making your research much easier.One key skill you should be learning TODAYIn my opinion, the following skill is one of the most important attributes of in-house counsel, a skill that you’ll learn early in your in-house career and one that will never leave you. This is your ability to respond to a scenario with three options, varying in risk, and advise on which option will yield the best outcome. Your interviewer may choose to present you with a scenario, wanting your advice. This is a great opportunity for you to exhibit your excellent and eloquent verbal communication capabilities (incredibly important to C-Suite).What to provide:Provide the interviewer with three succinct responses to their scenarioTheorise each response advising on the levels of risk associated with each. Then advise on your preferred routeThis applies to EVERY ad hoc advice you’re asked to provide throughout your career.  I’m so confident with how impressively important this skill is, that in some cases, I advise creating your own scenarios to display your advisory and reasoning skills. " Show how you can add valueIf you're being interviewed by a CFO, you will need to show the interviewer that you’re going to represent a huge saving versus the rates the existing external law firm is charging them. There are multiple ways of doing this:Look back at a time in your career where you’ve provided advice that would have cost your previous employer in external feesGive an example of noticing a change in regulation that would have resulted in a fine or having to instruct a specialistTalk about your value add in a business capacity, it’s likely that you’ll be stepping away from providing technical advice and that you’ll be working in a strategic role, much like a COO.Having an extra head in an operational sense adds exponential valueThe main thing to remember here is; QUANTIFY! Put a monetary figure by each of your examples. This massively lends perspective to your interviewer and can look very impressive. Interpersonal skills are keyThis is often overlooked as an important skill in an interview, as some lawyers rely on their immense IQ to carry them through an interview process. However, GC’s can regularly become one of the most talked to people in a business. As all streams of an organisation may choose to contact you for ad hoc advice. Being able to quickly build a rapport with your interviewers will be a good representation of your ability to do this across the business and may be what sets you apart from others interviewing.For more general interview advice visit our career advice hub.

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A good interview is often overlooked by experienced lawyers, with the view that they are somewhat straightforward.

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Angus Denny

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Angus Denny

Angus Denny

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Angus Denny

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