Careers Lecture: Making a Good Impression

Monday 3rd November 2014

Presented by Emily Carroll, Steven Vaughan and Clare Doolan


Reports by Ella Phillips, Andrei Onofrei, Ellen Hitchman and Rebecca Tatlow, CEPLER Correspondents

It became clear from the outset of this presentation that something as superficial as personal presentation should not matter in a today’s morally evolving society. Unfortunately, making quick judgements based on someone’s appearance is something we are all guilty of. Experiments at Princeton University have shown that it can take as little as one tenth of a second to form a first impression of someone; in such a competitive job market looking and acting your best at interviews has never been so important.  Steven Vaughan, Emily Carroll, and Clare Doolan led this presentation offering an insight into not only the importance of image, but the importance of body language, intelligent questions, and commercial awareness. This includes the impression left with law firms if you are attending the law fair on the 12th of November. It was stressed that walking through the door of the Great Hall shouldn’t be the first time you acknowledge which firms have attended; Clare Doolan advised researching at least five firms to familiarize yourself with their practices and ethos but try not to ask questions that a quick search on google won’t answer for you!

The next part of the talk consisted of helpful advice on what clothes to wear at interview, important for any students applying for vacation schemes. Steven Vaughan led the advice for the men emphasising the importance of a correctly fitted suit, grey or blue in colour, and no skinny tie. For shoes, the phrase “no brown in town” applied and Steven Vaughan gently reminded all the men in the room that white socks at interview are a definite no go! He went on with advice on hair and encouraged all men ask themselves the important question "what would Justin Bieber do?” and then not do it! For women, the advice consisted of no cleavage or bare legs on show, no short skirts (to the knee is appropriate), and that The Apprentice was not a suitable example of how women should dress for interview. Emily Carroll finished the talk with the idea that, as much as it shouldn’t, appearance does matter to the public; looking professional will project that very image onto the client.

Ella Phillips

Indispensable tips for how to go about approaching law firms at the upcoming Law Fair, making the best impression and standing out of the crowd when applying for legal jobs. Also consider how to appropriately dress and stick to that smart appeareance that will in the end secure you the job you've been aiming at for so long...

These "unspoken rules", as Stephen Vaughan has himself put it, prove to make a huge difference.
Lawyer-like jokes told by Stephen, with the audience laughing and being simply delighted by the presentation overall.

Andrei Onofrei 

Emily Carroll, Clare Doolan and Steven Vaughan successfully made this a light-hearted, enjoyable and humorous talk. Clare gave great advice on preparation for the law fair, helping us to understand why law firms attend these events and what we can gain out of them. Preparation for any career event is key! The importance of knowing who you are talking to, what the firm does and where their offices are, are just a few of the basic things which you should already know before attending any law fair, social or career event.

Emily and Steven gave an entertaining talk on what both males and females should and, more importantly, should not to wear. People will trust a lawyer who looks the part and looks like they know what they are doing. The main message that all three of them conveyed to the room was that perceptions and first appearances do matter, and by getting these little things right, you could be one step closer to that dream training contract!

Ellen Hitchman

Steven, Emily and Clare set out the ways to impress at interview and the law fair, including the importance of a professional image.
In a world where people were judged purely on their inner merits this talk would be irrelevant. Unfortunately, judgments are made based by appearance and these can inform decisions from whether you get a training contract to whether you get an instruction from a client. Both clients and firms have certain expectations which you should try to meet - at least at this stage. It was clear from the crowd of law students filling LT1 that what to wear to an interview is something which concerns students and potentially distracts them from other challenges. Luckily, Steven and Emily through a collection of memorable anecdotes and examples provided useful and easy to follow guidelines - it's a bit like having a school uniform.
For men: A blue or grey suit, well fitted; a pale shirt, ironed; black belt and shoes, polished; plain tie, fastened correctly; and no bag just a document wallet.

The real surprise to students was that men should avoid black suits.
For women: A blue, grey or black suit, skirts being the easiest and most conventional choice; pale shirt, again ironed; black or nude tights; black shoes, low heel, and handbag; and no noisy jewellery.
The most important message for everyone was that neatness is key and you should be careful not to distract the interviewer from what a great candidate you are. The second doctrine of the City being that brown is banned for anything other than hair colour - 'No brown in town'!
The other aspect of a good impression which was emphasised was the way behaviour at the law fair changes recruiters' perception of a university and individual students. Clare, who worked as a recruiter for DLA Piper before she came to the Careers Network, gave fantastic insight into what the firms are expecting and how to prepare. Research is important and you should try not to ask anything which can easily be found on the website. The questions you ask should be ones which you really want to know the answer to and which will help you make a decision. I thought it particularly helpful when Clare explained how to use the fair to survey the firms and compare them as well as gain an insight into work as a solicitor and improve awareness more generally.
Rebecca Tatlow