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It's all about the attitude


Having the right attitude is vital when looking for a new role.

Experience and skills are very important for any job application, but attitude can play a crucial part in the selection process. The so-called soft skills can be the deciding factor when employers are reviewing the candidates that they have interviewed.

Let’s look at a case study:

Two candidates apply for the same job, a junior legal counsel role in an in-house legal team with a property developer being advertised by a legal recruitment agency.

Candidate A achieved solid A Levels, university and law school results and followed the orthodox path securing an NQ role at a reputable law firm.

Candidate B, on the other hand, didn’t enjoy school and upon leaving joined a similar law firm working as an administrator, but worked hard and had been promoted to a paralegal.

The recruitment consultant submits both candidates’ CVs to the client, and both are invited to interview.

Prior to their interviews, the consultant phones both candidates for a 20 minute call to run through how to prepare, what to research, which questions may come up, which questions to ask etc.

Candidate A emails the recruiter to let them know they’re currently very busy and may not be able to find time to take a call. A day before their interview, Candidate A does get some free time to phone, but it is rushed on the call and also questions the relevance and benefit of the preparation exercise.

Candidate B makes the call a priority, sets up a 30-minute time slot with the consultant a week before the interview, takes down notes, asks relevant questions and undertakes the recommended due diligence and research on the client after the call.

Following the interviews, the recruitment consultant calls the client for their feedback. The client admits that on paper Candidate A was their preferred choice, however they could not go past Candidate B: they felt she was engaged, positive, clearly prepared, asked relevant questions and came across as completely committed to securing the role. What blew them away in particular was that Candidate B informed them that they had spent the previous day (a Sunday) walking round one of their new developments and looking at one of their show homes – this development was 40 miles away, so it was immediately clear that Candidate B was enthusiastic about the company and the job.

On the other hand the feedback on candidate A was below expectations. While she had lots of excellent relevant legal experience and transaction highlights to discuss, she instead focused on questions about salary from the start. As a result, the interview stalled and was closed off early before she got the chance to elaborate on the key points about her relevant experience.

While Candidate A had all the skills to successfully do the job, Candidate B was ultimately offered the role even though she was less qualified and the client knew they would have to invest more time and resources into them.

The above scenario is something nearly ever recruiter has experienced and demonstrates that you can have all the necessary technical skills, but attitude is often the most important deciding factor for any employer.

Interview preparation and understanding interview etiquette makes a huge difference to your chances of success at interview. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the work experience listed on your CV is all an employer is looking for. Remember that employers are not just after someone who can do the job well, but someone who is enjoyable to work with and someone they want to help flourish.

To candidates who worry that their CV is holding them back: make sure you know how to make your soft skills work for you. Don’t avoid applying for jobs that you want just because you may be less qualified than other applicants – there are many employers who are willing to give you a chance.


David is one of our most experienced recruitment consultants, and a regional expert, having gained his experience in the Midlands, South West, North West and Northern Home Counties. He has spent the entirety of his career in recruitment, now having built up an impressive 20 years' worth of knowledge. As a specialist in the field of legal in-house recruitment David is well-known by Senior Legal Counsel and Company Directors of some of the largest companies in the country.


Telephone: 0121 200 5576

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