December 3, 2015

Applications and Interviews

Applications and Interviews

Tunde Okewale, Doughty Street ChambersTunde

Tunde’s interest in law came naturally and was inspired very much by his immediate surroundings: “Whether it was rationalising arguments with siblings or noticing injustices in the area I grew up in, I always felt an inherent need to right wrongs which I witnessed”. Being the first in his family to attend university was a significant milestone, but his progression to the Bar was not smooth. Balancing the demands of higher education with the need to earn money and contribute to his household by working a number of part-time jobs, meant that he didn’t realise his full potential as an undergraduate. The negative attitude of careers advisors presented an additional barrier, but Tunde was creative in his approach to developing the skills required to practise as a barrister, “I involved myself in community work and was eventually invited to conduct a workshop on behalf of the Greater London Authority”.

Tunde has developed a successful practice and is keen to pass on his experience to young people who may face similar challenges on the road to accessing a career in the legal professions. In 2009, he established Urban Lawyers, which he describes as, “a multi-media education and information centre designed to educate, engage and stimulate discussion amongst young people about their attitudes towards criminal law, policing and personal responsibility”.

What kinds of skills and competencies are Chambers trying to assess in applications and interviews?

Dedication to the profession evidenced through work experience, and activities like writing articles or blogs.  Also intellectual ability usually evidenced through grades and academic qualifications.


Do you have any tips on interview technique?

Do your research

Fail to plan, and you plan to fail. You are certain to be asked specific questions about the company. Also take a look at the latest developments in the industry so you can converse with confidence.


Practise your answers

Although there is no set format that every job interview will follow, there are some questions that you can almost guarantee will crop up. You should prepare answers to some of the most common interview questions about your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as being able to explain why you would be the best person for the job.


Look the part

Appearances shouldn’t matter, but the plain fact is that you are often judged before you’ve even utter a word. Make sure your shoes are polished, your clothes fit correctly and that your accessories are subtle. Dressing one level above the job you’re applying for shows a desire to succeed.


Stay calm

Good preparation is the key to staying in control. Plan your route, allowing extra time for any unexpected delays and get everything you need to take with you ready the night before. Remember to speak clearly, smile and remember that your interviewers are just normal people, and they may be nervous too!


What are your tips for success?


  • My top tips for success are patience, persistence and practise. Persistence means having the ability to continue even when things are at their gloomiest. Patience means the ability to not become impatience when progress doesn’t seem to be progressing as quickly as you want it to be. Practise is the repetition and cultivation of a habit, which is essential, because the only way that the quality of your work and life can improve is when you do it. Practise makes perfect.


  • What I have found to be the most difficult is to have the ability to be confident in yourself. It is easy to conform as it is very easy to want to replicate and duplicate what others are doing. We have been taught to accept opinions, customs and traditions of others and shy away from being yourself.


  • Things rarely work out the way you planned and there will always be distractions and stumbling blocks that you have to deal with when you are on your road to success. The key point to remember is to persist and to develop the courage to move on even when everyone around you is telling you it is okay to give up.  Like Rocky Balboa keep getting up and keep fighting.


  • Be proactive, if you don’t ask the answer will always be no. Ask for mini-pupillages, network, attend seminars and meet and speak to as many people in the profession as possible, cultivate professional relationships as early as you can.