Since fall is job hunting season in the legal profession, both in terms of firm jobs and judicial clerkships, ATL offers you this “public service announcement”: our top ten interview tips.
We’ve received requests for interview advice from readers. Rather than repeat ourselves in emails, we thought we’d just write our “wisdom” down in a single post. It’s essentialy an outgrowth of our continuing series of Interview Horror Stories, which give you an idea of what NOT to do during a job interview.
1. Review your social networking site profiles (if any) for appropriateness. Here’s what one reader had to say:
Guess what. People making hiring and career decisions about you can indeed use Google, MySpace, Friendster, Facebook, etc. So can clients who are paying $300 or more per hour for your services. To the extent possible, you might want to make an effort to make yourself appear halfway professional. Or at least get rid of the materials that make you look like a drunken fool.
Yeah, that picture of you chugging a forty is pretty funny — but you should probably remove it. See also this cautionary tale, from the New York Times.
2. Make sure your breath is fresh. Please, don’t inflict halitosis upon your interviewer. You can check your breath by breathing into your cupped hand and sniffing (quasi-gross, but effective). Bring along a tiny packet of those Listerine strips, which you can pop discreetly when needed.
3. No gum during the interview. Bad breath is verboten; but so is chewing gum, even of the breath-freshening kind. We shouldn’t have to tell you this, but we do.
And don’t try the trick of sticking it in an upper corner of your mouth, so you can resume chewing it later; it can affect your speech. When the interview is done, treat yourself to a fresh piece. You deserve it!
4. Get Them to Start Talking About Themselves. This is everyone’s favorite topic. They are as bored with you as you are with them, so avoid you and make it about them. (Gavel bang: John Carney, a former practicing lawyer and editor of DealBreaker, our big brother blog.)
5. Cologne or Perfume? Probably safest not to — especially if you’re interviewing with this guy (he bans it in chambers).
If you do, select a subtle scent — e.g., not Drakkar Noir — and use it sparingly. (We like Eau d’Orange Verte by Hermès.)
Oh, but a resounding “yes” to showering — and deodorant.
The rest of our interview advice appears after the jump.
6. Glasses or Contacts? This is a judgment call, but we say: whatever makes you look hottest. Yes, some people look more “serious” in glasses. But numerous studies have shown the strong positive correlation between physical attractiveness and workplace success.
7. Have At Least Some Questions for your Interviewer. Yes, it’s annoying; but it’s standard operating procedure. Your interviewer will probably ask you, near the end of the interview, “So, do you have any questions for me?” You should have a few questions ready — preferably questions that show you’ve done your homework about the judge or law firm that’s interviewing you.
(This is also a great way of implementing tip #4, supra: “Get Them to Start Talking About Themselves.”)
8. Don’t Act Like You Already Have an Offer. This is a big no-no (unless you’re a SCOTUS clerk being wooed by a firm). It’s fine to ask your interviewers what their jobs are like, what would be expected of you, etc.; but never do so in a tone that suggests “I’ve got this in the bag,” or “Why should I grace you with my presence?”
9. Attempts at Humor. Not verboten; but be careful, and use some judgment. See here.
10. Eat Something Beforehand.. Don’t interview on an empty stomach (but don’t eat anything that will cause you intestinal distress, either). When your stomach starts to growl audibly, it can be very embarrassing.*
Also, sometimes an empty stomach can contribute to bad breath. We don’t know why this happens, but feel free to enlighten us in the comments.
* This happened to us during a Williams & Connolly interview. We ended up getting an offer, but it was still mortifying when our stomach started making noises that sounded like a Wagner opera.
When a Risqué Online Persona Undermines a Chance for a Job [New York Times]