Yesterday we solicited stories from you about on-campus interview bloopers — this time by the student interviewees, rather than their law firm interrogators. We received an embarrassment of riches — or riches of embarrassment — in response.
In terms of favorite stories, it seems the people’s choice was comment 177. Do a ctrl-F on the page for “177,” and you’ll encounter some pretty funny stuff. Comment 83 also had some crowd support, but it was completely disgusting, and some people read ATL during the lunch hour.
Not convinced that 83 and 177 are true stories, we decided to go with these as our top tales:
1. The People Person
Interviewer asks inevitable, everyone-is-prepared-for-it question: What do your consider your weaknesses to be?
Candidate (stratospheric GPA to offer and little else): Well, I don’t really like other people very much.
Job not offered.
2. Revenge of the Nerd?
I heard a story here at Cleary Gottlieb from this recruiting season, not terribly exciting but a nice foot-in-mouth moment. At one of our OCI’s, during this kid’s interview, he remarked that he’s the perfect lawyer for Cleary because he’s “like, a big socially awkward nerd.” The mid-level associate interviewing him deadpanned: “So I’m a socially awkward nerd?” Ouch. I don’t think he got a callback.
It’s unfortunate, because his assessment of Cleary lawyers was pretty spot on.
3. “Forget it, Jake, it’s Koreatown.”
I was conducting a callback lunch interview in Los Angeles when the interviewee starts talking about how he can’t stand living in Koreatown because Koreans were so rude and also bad drivers. I said, “Dude, my last name is Kim. You know I’m Korean, right?
After an uncomfortable ending to the lunch I called HR and told them if they gave this kid an offer I was quitting. Needless to say, no offer for this guy.
4. To Catch A Thief
At an OCI reception for a mid-sized Firm X, a few students are engaging in polite conversating with partner in Firm X. The partner asks each student what they did the summer before. One student, who apparently took full advantage of the open bar, begins talking about spending his 1L summer working with general counsel for an apartment complex, often dealing with tenant evictions.
Completely unsolicited, the student begins talking about how they used to break into the [tenants’] apartments and if they found weed/drugs in the place, they’d steal the drugs and some electronics from the apartment like it was their own personal Best Buy. He said, and I quote: “what were the tenants gonna do? They can’t tell the cops that we took their stuff or we’ll just report them for the drugs.” Partner and other students (including me) look at each other and then stare at the floor.
5. Veggie Girl
To an applicant with no special interests or activities listed on her resume: “So what do you do with your free time outside of school? Do you have any hobbies?”
6. What’s the difference between a law firm and a paint store?
During a Shearman & Sterling interview, a friend once asked the interviewer, “So, how have you liked your experience at Sherwin & Williams?”
Vote for your favorite of these six stories, and check out seven more stories that get honorable mention, after the jump.
Here’s a poll asking you to pick your favorite from the six stories you just read:
And here are a few more stories that get an honorable mention. The first three have a common theme: the perils of interview humor. You might think you’re funny — but will they?
(We actually thought the interviewees in stories 1-3 below were pretty funny. But we’re not 60-year-old law firm partners.)
1. The Lunchtime Lush
Same student in 15 goes out to callback lunch with partners and associates. Waiter comes to the table and approaches the student first.
Waiter: “Can I get you something to drink?”
Student: “Yea, I guess . . . I’ll have . . . a . . . vodka redbull.”
-Rest of table looks at him in shock.-
He, again, says, “I’m just kidding!! . . . I’ll just have a long island.”
-awkward laughter at table-
2. Prison Break
Student is on a callback and is in a partner’s office. The partner looks at the student’s resume and asks, “I see here that you graduated from college in 2003 and didn’t start law school until 2005. What did you do between college and law school? It’s not addressed on your resume.”
[Student had been a stay-at-home father for those two years while his wife worked.]
Student responds with, “Well, I guess it’s about time I come clean about those two years I spent in prison.”
Student then says, “I’m just kidding!!” and proceeds to tell the truth.
Result: No offer for poor humor.
3. $160K buys a lot of Rogaine
Back in 2003 at one of my last OCI interviews of the fall, I was asked a terrible generic questions by the attorney interviewing me that law students often get: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
As I was tired of answering questions like this during OCI interviews, I decided humor was the best answer: “I see myself as slightly balder and about 10 lbs. heavier.”
That answer did not go over well. No callback. Boo-hoo.
4. The Paralegal Picker
At the end of an interview, the interviewing attorney asks the law student the standard, “Do you have any questions?”
Student responds: “Yes, will I be able to hire my own paralegal?”
A bit taken off guard, attorney sort of pauses, realizing this is not a joke.
Student goes further, “To be as good as I want to be, I feel like I need to control who I work with.”
Needless to say, no call-backs.
5. You’ll get an offer, as long as you don’t puke yourself.
A friend of mine was doing OCI in the summer and became incredibly sick with some sort of flue. She decided to go through with the interviews regardless. All went well until she had a coughing attack in the middle of talking to a V10 firm which only ended when she vomited all over herself. No offer.
6. Offer Up in Smoke
I got a call back at a top NY firm that I despised because it does work for horrible people, including many many of the top tobacco companies. I already had several other offers. During the interview I asked about working on Tobacco cases and the associate starting glowing about how there was plenty to go around and all you had to do was ask for it. I replied “I think you misunderstood me. I was more curious about how you slept an night and could go to work in the morning knowing that you were defending tobacco companies.”
I didn’t get an offer.
7. Oh, that Ontario….
2L signs up for interview with a firm that has an office in Ontario. 2L raves in interview about how the 2L has always wanted to work in Canada and has tons of family in Toronto. Interviewer shifts uncomfortably, then says “That’s really great! But our office is in Ontario California”.
2L apologizes and ducks out 10 minutes early.
A final note. We enjoyed these stories, which we thought were lighthearted and fun (and often self-effacing, when submitted by the interviewee in question). But at least one of you had a darker take:
[This thread] shows what complete douchebags some interviewers are. What ever happened to being human and giving people the benefit of the doubt? How sad is it that the slightest bit of power over frightened law students turns some people into turds.
Maybe the phone call [that the interviewee took] during the interview was from his cancer-stricken grandmother, and he was too awkward/nervous to know he needed to explain himself. Maybe being involved with a vegetarian lifestyle and causes does consume much of that person’s free time.
So, readers, any thoughts? Are Biglaw interviewers too hard on the people who come before them?
We’ll bring you additional discussion, plus the results of the poll, in a future post.
Earlier: OCI Bloopers By Students: Share Your Horror Stories