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. We call this your 3-sentence sell. In our on-demand course, ‘How to create a cast-iron Business Case for Partnership‘ in our Progress To Partner membership site we show you how to construct your 3-sentence sell and your Executive summary. These will form the basis of your pitch.
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! Prepare successfully and use this tool to ace your presentation!
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 do the presentation and practice here if possible. This allows you to become familiar with the room and decide 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 your pitch’s first and last 3 minutes 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 must prepare for the questions 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! (Remember that the resources in our Progress To Partner membership site will help you construct this pitch) 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 a particular partner 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 great presenters are better at using their nervous energy to help them deliver a better presentation. 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 a few deep breathes 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 will 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!)
Use a one-page Talk Sheet
Some people think they need to use the slide-deck template they’ve been given. I’ve seen that many times where someone is trying to shoehorn a Business Case into text-heavy slides.
When people ask, ‘What should I use for presenting my Business Case’, they then get given a template, and suddenly you’ve got 10-point text on it. You cannot use that to present. These templates are rarely suitable…
- They’re too wordy.
- Difficult to highlight your key selling points.
- They are often box-tick templates for HR’s benefit.
Put them onto a handout, don’t put them up on the screen. Anything that you put onto the screen should help visually get the message over, should help emotionally get the message over, and give them trust and confidence that you know what you’re doing.
A good way of presenting your Business Case simply is to use a one-page Talk Sheet.
We get our clients, from both Big 4 firms and small firms, to crystallise their Business Case onto a one-page Talk Sheet. In fact, this approach has become so successful that the one-page Talk Sheet idea has often been adopted in a widespread manner in the Big 4 firms where we have introduced the method.
But this isn’t just any old one-page document. After all, you can fit many words on an A4 piece of paper. No, this is where you crystallise your Business Case down to just 3-6 visuals and 3-6 short bullet points of text. See example on the left of a Talk Sheet. This discipline forces you to become incredibly clear about the benefits of your Business Case. As a result, it becomes much easier to pitch then and successfully communicate the commercial proposition of your Business Case for partnership to your partners.
Wouldn’t your life be easier if you could grab the template we used to assemble this template? This one-page Talk Sheet template has been professionally designed and is available to our members of Progress To Partner.
Luckily for you, you can download this Talk Sheet template free of charge by clicking here.
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 logically that don’t offend their years of experience. If they still don’t agree? Leave it as an agree-to-disagree. Read: Tips to present your business case at your partnership panel interview
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.
What’s in Progress To Partner which will help you with your Partnership Panel Interview?
Progress to Partner is our membership site that will give your the knowledge AND confidence to fly through this final step up to partner.
It’s like a Netflix for your career in the professions. Find what you need to watch or read at the time you need it. Within the site you’ll find over 150+ courses, videos, checklists, templates and plans to help you progress your career to partner. Amongst the many curated resources (no more unnecessary scrolling or searching) you’ll find:
- On-demand courses on how to create and articulate your business case, including our most downloaded course “How to Build a Cast-Iron Business Case for Partner”
- A section on the Partnership Admissions process with guides and recordings to help you find your way through the process with your sanity intact.
- Recordings and checklists on how to ace your partner panel interview
- On-demand courses on how to win the right sort of clients
- Proven advice on how to still do the day job and find the time to get through the Partner Track process