These are tough. You will be expected to know something about recent developments and proposals for the legal system. You may even be expected to have a view about it. If so, please give your honest opinion. Most barristers have high quality bull detectors (obviously as they all own country estates) and, as you are not a Judge, telling them what they want to hear is irrelevant and will not assist you. If you are applying for a specialist pupillage you will be expected to be up to date with recent developments. If you claim knowledge of any particular subject you will be expected to demonstrate it.
Take your time. Don’t expect to get every answer right – there probably isn’t one right answer.
If you’ve applied to the pupillage factories ask yourself what they want and aim to demonstrate it. If you’ve applied to sets where pupillages are with a view remember that the sub-plot is whether the panel think you can get along with the members of Chambers. DON’T diss the opposition – either other Chambers (gossip gets around) or your fellow interviewees. It sounds dreadful.
You will do better if you relax. If you can’t relax you will do better if you acknowledge to the panel that you are finding it difficult to relax. You might have to be relaxed to indicate that you aren’t relaxed – just think of it as a tricky submission to a misanthropic High Court Judge.
Panels will make allowances, but they will want to give pupillages to people who don’t require allowances to be made. Don’t fail to appreciate, and bone up on, what the panel expects you to know. Know the sort of work Chambers does, the number of tenants and the number of silks. Don’t over-flatter your listeners. They will know if they really are the premier woodworking law set in the West of England. Say why the set is right for you. Only say why you are right for the set if specifically asked, or if you can promise that your Uncle George can provide work for every junior tenant until 2012 (preferably in his capacity as a solicitor).
Also, and it is bizarre that I have to say this, we can tell if we are really your number one choice or not. It must be all that cross-examination honing our already rapier-sharp legal skills. Speaking personally, anyone who gives me the impression that we’ll do if that fantastic set they really, really want to go to doesn’t come up with an offer can walk back to their BVC course – preferrably on their knees. So try and be enthusiastic, even if it’s largely bullshit.