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LIV Legal Careers Fair Insights Series: Five ways to make your first impression count

LIV Legal Careers Fair Insights Series: Five ways to make your first impression count

By Lauren Parrant

Occupations Workplace Young Persons 


Making a great impression when applying for a legal role is one thing that every applicant wants to get right the first time. In our second article of this new series, the LIV Young Lawyers invited Lauren Parrant, people & culture advisor at Hall & Wilcox to share her top five insights on what works best when trying to make your first impression count.

The saying “you only have one chance to make a positive first impression” holds true, especially in a professional setting.

Everyone has the power to influence how they are perceived, it’s called impression management. Below are my top tips on how to make a memorable first impression.

Just remember, what works from some people, might not work for you – find what feels right and always to be mindful of the impression you may be giving.

1. When meeting representatives at the LIV Legal Careers Fair and on campus

Networking will form part of any law career.  It can be a lot of fun and a great way to make connections.  The LIV Legal Careers Fair is often your first point of contact with a law firm, so it is important that you make a lasting impression.

Similar to interviews, it is always good to come prepared and do your research before you attend a networking event. For the LIV Legal Careers Fair, I would recommended researching the different types of law firms that are attending. Research their social media channels, website, careers pages, press releases etc.

In my experience, a strong impression is made when students use the LIV Legal Careers Fair as an opportunity to find out more about working at your firm, instead of asking questions that could have easily been answered by looking at the firm’s website. Ask questions that concern you in some way. For example, do you want to know more about pro bono work while a graduate, or, ask the representatives about their experiences, how did they find their graduate year?  How did they get into their specialised area?

The better the question, the better the impression. These sorts of questions show that you have taken the time to get to know the firm and have a genuine interest in working there.

Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and ask some curly questions.

2. When conversing by email

It is often harder to make a good impression when conversing by email, as tone can often be depicted wrong. Make sure to include niceties in your emails, such as “‘hope you are well”’, and signing off your email with a simple “look forward to hearing from you” or “kind regards”, will help the tone for your email.

When conversing by email, it is always important to acknowledge the person by their given name. Gone are the days when you would address an email as “Dear Sir/Madam” or “Dear Recruitment Manager”, it is impersonal and may be offensive. Taking the time to address the email correctly will give a great impression – after all, people love to hear their own name!

3. When meeting someone new in person

To make a great impression when meeting someone in person, approach them with a genuine interest; be warm, engaging and welcoming.  It is also very important that you make direct eye contact when conversing, but be mindful to make allowances for cultural sensitivities.

When introducing yourself, also introduce your role and what you do and make sure that you learn their name. If their name is uncommon, ask for the correct pronunciation. Remembering someone’s name makes a positive and lasting impression.

It’s important that you create a conversation that’s memorable and engaging – remember to always make it a conversation and not just one way!

4. When speaking with employers on the phone

Similar to a physical meeting, speaking with a potential employer on the phone has the same bearing on first impressions.

If you are the one making the call, it is always good practice to be prepared – this may be writing down a short checklist of things to cover on the call, or practising before making the call.  This will ensure that the conversation goes smoothly and you appear confident in what you are saying.

The best piece of advice I was ever given is that when on a phone call, be mindful of your body language. Even though the person on the call can’t see you, and as silly as it sounds, negative body language can transcend through the sound of your voice. Try sitting upright and smiling, this will help you sound more positive and confident – trust me!

There’s nothing worse than someone who doesn’t answer calls. If you are expecting an important call (such as clerkship or graduate offer), keep your phone nearby and ensure you answer it promptly or return the call as soon as possible. It gives the impression that you are professional and interested.

5. When you are invited to participate in an interview

The best piece of advice that I can give to anyone attending an interview, is that preparation is key to making a good first impression.

You should do your research on the firm. This might involve finding out the answers to the following questions; what are the firm’s practice areas? What are the firm’s key values? What has happened recently at the firm (eg, new technology, new team)? Who are you interviewing with and what area do they work in?

When it is evident that you have taken the time to prepare, you’ll appear knowledgeable and interested – two strong qualities interviewers look for.

Also, it is important to remember that interview skills can be developed. Consider possible interview questions and answers based on your research of the firm. Practise (but don’t over-rehearse) potential responses to questions that may be asked in the interview. You will feel a lot more confident.

On the day of your interview, arrive at reception early – I usually recommend 5-10 minutes early! Take control of your time and plan ahead. When you arrive on time, you send a clear message that you are responsible and reliable.

When responding to questions in the interview, take time to think about the question asked before you respond. If unsure about the question, seek clarity, rather than interpreting the question wrong. A great way to respond to behavioral interview questions is by using the STAR method – situation, task, action and result.

Most importantly, you should demonstrate your interest by asking pertinent questions that are unique to the firm. Those interviewing you want to see that you have a genuine interest in the firm and motivation to work there.

The most important thing to remember is to try to be yourself in the interview. That’s the person they’re looking for.

Good luck!


The LIV Young Lawyers thanks Lauren for sharing her insights. 

Hall & Wilcox will be exhibiting at the 2018 LIV Legal Careers Fair on 12 July 2018 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Registrations are now open and free for law students. Please register for the LIV Legal Careers Fair today.


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