‘I’ve secured my first pupillage interview… any advice?’

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By Legal Cheek on


Budding barrister seeks help

In the latest instalment of our Career Conundrums series, a prospective pupil barrister appeals for advice on how to handle pupillage interviews.

“I’ve secured a pupillage interview at a mixed common law set in London. They haven’t offered very much detail about what to expect in the interview, and so I’m looking for pointers as to the best things I can be doing to prepare, and any particular things that I should look to do or avoid doing during the interview itself. Any advice welcome!”

If you have a career conundrum, email us at team@legalcheek.com.


Kirkland NQ

Pull out of the interview, apply to the ‘Land, and immediately call your local Lambo dealer to tell them you’re on your way.

Archibald O'Pomposity

Firstly, ignore the silly responses you’ll receive. After all, you have sought advice from btl commentators from legalcheek, for reasons best kept to yourself, but that doesn’t mean you ought to take their remarks literally.

I shall keep my advice to one key point, failure to take account of which will inevtitably result in failure:

During introductions, if you’re asked how you are, don’t reply: “I’m good”.

Not a tryhard

Because the interviewer might be under the unfortunately widespread misapprehension that this response is grammatically incorrect?


If you are right, which I doubt, they would be right in viewing it as entirely unidiomatic.

Pupillage Interview Panel Member (10+ years call)

Be totally honest in your answers.

Remember, your interviewers are inquisitors by profession and can smell inaccuracies/ untruths a mile off.

Other than that, try to enjoy it. Treat each interview as a practice run for the next one, and if you happen to strike gold, that’s a bonus.

Above all, believe in yourself.

If you’ve got an interview, that means that you have already shown you’re good enough.

Best of luck!

Pupillage Interview Panel Member (10+ years call)

PS, try not to break wind loudly during the interview (this happened once!)


If you can’t help but break wind, really lean into it. Ask to pause the questions, look the interviewers in the eye, and push it out right to the smelly part at the end with a satisfied groan. Then, give your stench a mark out of ten, and ask for their reviews. They’ll respect your hustle and offer you the position on the spot.

Flatulent Interviewee

So you can do a silent but deadly one?

Junior barrister at mixed common law set in London

If this is your first round interview, many chambers adopt a roughly 50/50 advocacy exercise accompanied by some standard questions (such as ‘Why our chambers?’ ‘Give us an example of where you have persuaded someone of something’ ‘What sort of practice areas do you want to specialise in’).

The type of advocacy exercise is likely to be: (1) a plea in mitigation (if the chambers does criminal work); (2) an civil application of some sort – such as a simple set aside application; or (3) a short speech on a topic (‘Should barristers wear wigs?’ ‘Should we encourage AI judges?’ ‘Do you think the bar is relevant in the 21st century’ etc.)

To practise for the advocacy exercises, go through any previous resources you’ve received from your Inn or bar course. Set yourself strict time limits for preparation – say 15 to 30 minutes only. And then actually practise delivering the advocacy out loud, even if it is only to yourself. Do this enough times that it becomes second nature.

Otherwise, read over your application to the chambers in detail at least 3 times and be prepared to go into greater detail about any section.

Typically, if you make a good enough impression, you have a decent chance of progressing to a second round interview, which tend to be much more difficult, with a complex legal question or advocacy exercise beforehand, and much more in-depth questions about your application and you as a candidate.

Good luck!

Pupil barrister

I agree with the other serious comments. Just to add, brush up on your current affairs and especially any legal current affairs. Also don’t just rely on the headlines, look at the law behind the front page stories too. E.g. with the Horizon scandal, look at the legislation being proposed by the Govt and be prepared to debate its merits.

In the year I applied (2021), I was asked to debate whether the right to protest should outweigh Covid tier 4 restrictions, which was clearly a reference to the Sarah Everard protests taking place at the time. I had read the headlines, but couldn’t give a proper answer as I hadn’t read the relevant case (R (Leigh and others) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2022]). In the following year some people I know were asked about Johnny Depp and Amber Heard.


So you don’t agree that you shouldn’t break wind? Kind of devalues your point pal.


Where black shoes, the correct response to “how do you do?” is “how do you do?” and do not take a seat unless offered one.


And after saying “how to do you do?”, there are only two things you can do thereafter: make a comment about the weather, or ask about the other person’s journey.


Good luck!

1) Get the basics right and don’t overcomplicate things;

2) If you have an advocacy or analytical exercise acknowledge your weak points and take time to consider what the panel are saying when they press you. Don’t be afraid to modify your submissions if they give you new info;

3) Have courage: someone has to get it, why not you…

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