It starts (and ends) with self-belief

There are many differences between a first and a final round interview. But by time of the final interview, there (likely) won’t be a lot that separates out the candidates.

The one thing that sets the successful candidate apart from their peers is that the successful candidate has unshakeable self-belief

Put simply, your mindset matters; what you say to yourself about your skills and your ability to manage the process will affect how well you do.

You’re thinking “this is hippy, new age stuff.” It’s not.

It’s backed up by numerous psychology studies and I’ve yet to meet any successful candidate to whom this doesn’t apply.

If you think, deep down, that you don’t have what it takes – you’re in trouble

By the time you get to interview stage, you must know that you have what it takes.

Why does self-belief matter?

Self-belief helps you stay calm.

Self-belief buys you time to think through the answer to a difficult question.

Self-belief ensures that you deliver your best performance.

However, cultivating self-belief is not merely an exercise in inflating your ego; it is not about believing that you’re amazing when you don’t have the goods to back it up. It’s about gaining the experience and developing the skills that you need to succeed, and then realising that that’s what you’ve done.

It also does not mean that you never experience a moment of doubt; in fact, some candidates have used their own self-doubt to drive themselves straight to pupillage success. It also does not mean that you go around saying “I’m awesome” (except in the privacy of your own room!).

Self-belief is about knowing who you are, why you are here, and the specific reasons why you are going to be a fantastic barrister. 

This is the mindset of success and one you need to adopt in order to win.

Auditioning chambers

One way to adopt a winning mindset is to appreciate that while pupillage is competitive, you also have to be auditioning chambers at the same time. The “I’ll take pupillage anywhere” attitude has to go!

This is not only because it is self-defeating but because the quest for pupillage is both about your skills and about being the right ‘fit’ for chambers. You can’t be the right fit everywhere. From discussions with pupils, it was felt that most, if not all, of us have ‘matched’ well, and that this matters even more than we may initially have realised when applying for pupillage. Part of feeling that a chambers is a good match is feeling like you’re ‘in sync’ with the interview process. But that is just one part of it.

Yes, pupillage is competitive. But if you’re really prepared to take any chambers that makes you an offer, you’re telling yourself that you’re not that valuable. And *that* will show at interview time.

You are going to mentally audition chambers alongside being interviewed yourself

After all, that’s what the best candidates do.


Next page: Reviewing your application form