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How to secure a locum during a telephone interview: top tips from one of our top legal locum candidates

by Sara Robinson | 21 June 2019

Legal locums are highly sought after, and clients are having to act fast to win the best talent. As a result, telephone interviews are fast becoming the norm to speed up the process. But what can organisations do to ensure they impress legal locums? We spoke to one of our top locum candidates to find out.

As the legal locum jobs market becomes increasingly competitive, the need to act fast is increasing, so more and more businesses are opting for telephone or video interviews instead of the more traditional face-to-face approach.

In this Q&A, Senior Consultant Sara Robinson gets some top tips from a successful legal locum candidate on how to tackle a telephone interview and what she looks for in a locum position.

What is more challenging about taking part in a telephone interview?

I think this comes down to personal preference. I personally prefer going in and meeting with people face-to-face, as I think it gives you the chance to build up more of a rapport with the interviewer. Speaking with someone in person usually makes me feel less nervous and you can gauge someone’s reactions better from their expressions rather than simply speaking on the phone.

One positive aspect of telephone interviews is the time they take. Usually a telephone interview can drastically reduce the time it takes to recruit, which makes the process easier to manage. This is especially useful if the client’s needs are urgent or for candidates that live further away. Personally, I have only accepted locum roles at organisations I could commute to, but I can understand that for those who do travel for work that being able to do a telephone interview makes a huge difference.

What are your thoughts on Skype or video interviews?

I wouldn’t mind doing a Skype interview, especially if the client really wanted to do a face-to-face interview. It saves time and has a similar impact. However for me, if the client wanted to see me face-to-face then I would rather go into their office than do an interview over Skype.  

What are the most common questions you expect to be asked in an interview?

The most common questions that I usually get asked are about my past experience, specifically when and where I have worked previously and the sort of work I have undertaken. Clients also want to know how long have I been a locum for and I usually get asked to give examples of when I have picked up a type of work or asked to explain how I would deal with a certain scenario. Another common thing I get asked is to describe my strengths and weaknesses; something I would advise everyone to prepare an answer for in advance.

What are the most important things you want the client to talk about?

I like to get a good overview of what the role will involve as this gives me an indication of whether the role and company is a match to my skillset. I like it when the client can give me a synopsis of the position so I have a good idea of what they want. This also helps me to understand if the role is suited to me and whether I am interested in taking the role.

I always want to know about the team environment and how I would fit into that role. Many locum assignment can end up being more long-term than the initial three months, so being part of a team that I am comfortable with is important. I also usually try and find out as much information about the client as possible and what type of working relationship we will have. This can have a big impact on how you actually do your work and how smoothly things run!

What would put you off in an interview?

I would be really put off if someone was just reeling off a list of set questions and ticking boxes, rather than building up a rapport and having a conversation with me. Whilst locum roles are all about coming in and getting the job done, you still want the client to show an interest.

I think a lack of communication in an interview can also give you a bad feeling about how the assignments may go. Locums want to know that the person managing them is someone they can communicate with if there are any problems.

Another thing that would put me off is if the client was talking negatively about the organisation and role. Teams and organisations often have problems and it can involve a lot of hard work and isn’t always an easy environment to slip into, however this doesn’t have to be sold as a negative thing.

What are the most important things you look for in a role?

I would put flexibility as the thing that is most important to me, followed by team culture and then admin support.

Interviews are a two way process, and this Q&A has highlighted the importance of interviewers impressing a candidate while finding out if they are the right fit. It is therefore interesting to find out more about what legal locums look for in their interview, and their motivations for finding the perfect role.

If you would like some additional help finding your next locum, or your next legal job you can give myself, or a member of our expert legal recruitment team a call and we would be more than happy to help.

Alternatively, check out more resources that will help you recruit the best talent in our employer resources section