Interviewing: From Small Talk To The Thank You

by Annabel Corcoran on 21 October 2016

Congratulations - you've taken the time to submit a good application for a role and you've impressed the hiring manager enough to bag yourself an interview.

Everyone knows that a successful interview will require lots of preparation beforehand - you will need to properly research the company, practice answering CV/competency based questions, and identify some key points that potentially make you a better fit for the position than the other applicants.

If you're applying through a recruitment consultant, you do of course have the added luxury of utilising someone with inside knowledge of the company’s recruitment process and the key points that the company will look for in its staff. If you’re applying directly, the process can be more daunting.

This article will focus on aspects of the interview process outside of just preparing answers beforehand.


You should always attend an interview in well-fitting, dark coloured business attire that you feel comfortable in. Small flashes of colour to show some personality is fine (i.e. tie, bag, make-up) as long as it’s not overbearing. You should be well presented/neat with good hygiene.

For example:


Make sure you leave enough time to get to your interview and research exactly where you’re going and the best route to take, arriving 5-10 minutes before your interview is supposed to start.

If you get to the area 30 minutes before your meeting, don’t go in yet. Go and grab a coffee, entering the office/interview location no more than 15 minutes before you’re scheduled to.

Take the number of the company with you in case you’re running late, and always inform them if you are. However, I have had several candidates turned away for being late, regardless of the reason. Plan ahead so this doesn’t happen to you.

Small Talk

People form initial impressions of others within 10 seconds of meeting. Therefore, as well as presenting yourself well and arriving on time, it’s important to make small talk with your interviewer.  

This part is about building up an initial rapport – it’s not necessarily the content of the small talk, it’s the act of actually doing it (although, keep it relevant and professional!). Your interviewer is less likely to feel they can work with you if you’re awkward and unresponsive at this stage.

To Drink or Not to Drink?

The ideal time to get a drink is soon after meeting the person that’s interviewing you. If you are offered a drink by reception, this can actually make things somewhat awkward when you’re trying to give your interviewer a firm handshake and your hands are tied! I would never suggest you bring your own bottle of water or flask in with you.

It’s good to have a glass of water handy where possible so that you can take a sip when thinking of an answer to a tricky question. Then, keep your answers to the point, ensuring that you don’t waffle on and bore your interviewer with irrelevant information.

Body Language

Ensure you have as good posture as possible (ill-fitting clothes can affect this), smile, refrain from crossing your arms, and maintain good eye contact (without making them feel like you’re staring into their soul – creepy). Research shows that talking with your hands can also imply that you’re more passionate about what you’re referring to.

Mirroring is a great technique if you have the finesse to pull it off. This is where you will ‘mirror’ some of the characteristics of your interviewer. For example, if your interviewer frequently presses his/her fingers together when asking a question (incidentally, this is something that implies confidence), sneaking in doing this yourself may actually improve your chances.

People like people who subconsciously remind them of themselves.

Please note that this must be subtle! If you don’t think you can pull this off without your interviewer noticing what you’re doing, then don’t do it. You don’t want your interviewer to think you’re making fun of them.

Question Time

It’s of the upmost importance that you ask questions at the end of your interview when prompted. You need to show you have a genuine interest in the company and that you’ve done your research.

Prepare your questions beforehand - avoid salary related questions and opt for asking about what your interviewer likes about the company, whether it’s them you’ll be working with etc.; it doesn’t hurt to show keenness by asking what the next stages will be and to enquire when they think they’ll be making a decision.

The Thank You & The Chase

Make sure the last impression you give your interviewer is a good one. Thank your interviewer for meeting you, tell them you look forward to hearing from them, and exit on a firm handshake. If you’ve applied directly, you can also send a thank you email reiterating this (if you’re applying through a recruitment consultant, they will do this for you along with providing the company with your feedback).

Do not chase for feedback/a decision until at least 5 working days after your meeting. Eagerness can be misconstrued as pushiness and may not put you in the best light.

Next Stages

The interview process may include several stages, so be prepared for this. Unfortunately, many candidates get to second and third stages thinking they’ve got the job in the bag – they don’t yet. Confidence is good, but make sure it doesn’t veer into cockiness which may ruin your chances.

If you would like to have a confidential discussion about your job search in the legal sector please contact Annabel Corcoran at G2 Legal.

T: 0207 649 9296, E:

G2 Legal is a national and international legal recruitment company. We cover a broad range of legal roles to include both qualified and support staff.

For more information and to view all of our current vacancies, please click here.


About the author

Annabel places high calibre, qualified legal professionals into practices based in the City & West End. Experienced in assisting with hires from NQ to senior partner level within small boutiques, mid-sized practices, and large international law firms.