As part of your interview preparation, you should familiarize yourself with the kinds of questions you may be asked and prepare responses to those questions. Nothing turns off an interviewer more than “ummms” and “uhhhs.” You don’t have to memorize your responses verbatim (and you shouldn’t), but being prepared will help you avoid any Miss Teen South Carolina answers to any interviewer questions.
While it is impossible to cover every single question an interviewer may ask, Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, legal recruiter and former hiring partner, provides his recommended responses to commonly asked questions, adds comments explaining the purpose of the question, and points out any “traps” the interviewer may be setting by asking you the question.
Below are some of the most common questions asked during on-campus interviews….
Tell me about your grades…
Comment: Yes, firms have cut-offs. But all firms will reach beyond the cut-off to find exceptional students. You must answer the question specifically and directly. Don’t claim that you do not know your grades or you haven’t calculated your average. Strange as that may seem, 10% of students try that tactic every year. I don’t know where they get the idea. It doesn’t work. If you have a bad grade or two, explain what happened, but don’t offer any excuses. Try pointing out what you learned from the class and highlight strengths and other good grades.
Answering Strategy & Options: My GPA is a 3.2. It places me in the top X% of the class (if you know). My grades improved steadily from semester to semester. With the exception of one poor grade in my first semester, my GPA would be 3.4 rather than 3.2. I would like to offer you my writing sample, which I think is far more representative of my potential as a lawyer. I encourage you to call the references listed on the bottom of my resume who can tell you about my work last summer (or during the year).
You were raised in California. Why are you interested in New York?
Comment: The question is not malicious. Firms are burned every year by students who profess an interest in their city, but never settle there (or who stay briefly and then leave in a year or two). Be honest, but don’t feel pressured to list off any possible connection you may have in the location of the firm (i.e. a third cousin I never met lives in the city). Just remember all the reasons why you want to relocate and be enthusiastic with your response. A genuine explanation far outweighs any fake reasons you make up.
Answering Strategy and Options: My spouse (or significant other) has decided to settle in New York. He was raised here and his family still lives here (a powerful and credible explanation). Even though I am from California, my family ties are not strong. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time researching New York, examining the firms, and talking with lawyers in the community. It is the city that matches my practice interests the best. And I noticed that your firm has 31 lawyers who were born and raised on the West coast or went to school out west and settled in New York.
Want to review additional interview questions and get into the head of the interviewer? Click here to read on. Be sure to hit up the Career Center for additional career and OCI articles, as well as profiles of individual law firms with updated summer program information.