Most firms will put all of their partner candidates through a gruelling series of interviews to assess whether they are mentally, personally and professionally committed to making partner. This makes them an absolutely essential part of the partnership admissions process. Even if you look good on paper, it is vital that you are on your A-game for your interview as this is what counts the most. What most candidates don’t know, however, is that you can’t just wing it. Here’s how to bring your A-game to your partnership panel interview.
Before your partnership panel interview
Prepare your pitch
You need to communicate your Business Case and Personal Case in a powerful but succinct way, so spend a lot of time beforehand preparing this pitch (see our definitive guide!). Think of 3 reasons why you should be made partner and this will form your presentation.
You should also be spending time with the partners in and out of your department during the lead up to your interview. They can give you their thoughts on your Business Case and Personal Case and tell you what skills they think you bring that the partnership needs – plus it never hurts to have advocates!
Practice, practice, practice
Practice makes perfect so do this as much as possible in the lead up to your interview. Visit the room where you will actually do the presentation and practice here if possible. This allows you to become familiar with the room and you can decide on where you need to stand to be easily seen and heard.
Practice is one thing, but if you really want to bring your A-game on the day, you need to be presenting to your Mentor and Sponsoring Partner. Not only will this give you an idea of how long it will be (especially when you are nervous), but it will also allow you to improve on your presentation and delivery based on their advice and feedback.
Lastly, always practice the first and last 3 minutes of your pitch aloud at least ten times. This will ensure that however nervous you are on the day, you’ll still deliver the most important parts of your presentation well.
Anticipate and practice questions
If you want to be on your A-game during your partnership panel interview, you have to prepare for the questions that come after your presentation. If you have structured your presentation well (using the 3-sentence pitch) you should be able to anticipate what questions you will be asked so you can prepare your top-notch answers!
As well as questions, it is also worth anticipating other problems. What if the projector breaks down on the day? Or the computer crashes in the middle of your presentation? Always be prepared with paper copies of your presentation and cue cards, this will impress your interviewers greatly that you can adapt and carry on effortlessly.
If you don’t look after yourself, you won’t be on your A-game for your partnership panel interview so make sure you are eating right and are getting enough exercise and sleep. This is especially true during the week of your interview, so try to manage your time between your client work and preparing your pitch to avoid late nights!
You can also prepare yourself in other ways, such as if there is a particular partner that bothers you. If you know that they will be on the panel, take some time to work out what it is about them that makes you feel that way; spend some time reframing how you react to them and perhaps practice it around them beforehand.
During your partnership panel interview
Keep your cool
Everyone will be nervous about this presentation, especially if the partnership is riding on it, but some partners are better at faking it till they make it. Confidence is key to a successful and memorable presentation so try your best to calm your nerves. Take a few deep breaths before starting your presentation and take a sip of water and breath during your pitch if you feel you are stumbling over your words.(Find out how to give the best presentation of your life)
Adopt a positive mindset
This might sound strange, but having a positive mindset is incredibly powerful. Even if you don’t believe it, tell yourself every day that you are looking forward to your presentation and that you’re going to bring your A-game. When it comes to the day, you’ll find that this will come across in your presentation and you will knock it out of the park. (See our tips to ace your presentation!)
When it comes to the question and answer section of the interview, you will be subjected to challenging questions, conflicting opinions, and potential criticism from all partners which can make candidates get defensive. These are the times that can make or break your partnership panel interview. Take a deep breath, clarify what they are asking, acknowledge it and try to answer questions in a logical way that doesn’t offend their years of experience. If they still don’t agree? Leave it as an agree-to-disagree.
Bringing your A-game takes preparation
Acing your partnership panel interview takes much more than just feigning confidence on the day, it takes weeks of preparation, practice, feedback, practice and more practice, so use these tips to bring your A-game.