Amy Schulman, Depositions, General Counsel, In-House Counsel, Interview Stories, Job Searches, Litigators, Litigatrix, Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day: Litigatrix, Toppled

A story I often tell is about the first time I took a deposition. I got there early, and I thought that the most important thing was to control the witness. I didn’t realize the first time around that the way you control somebody is not by intimidating them. But I adjusted the chair that I was sitting on so that I’d be really tall, and could look down imposingly on the witness. But I raised it so high that as soon as I sat down, I toppled over and fell backward.

Amy Schulman, executive vice president and general counsel of Pfizer, in a New York Times interview about her leadership style.

(Additional excerpts and discussion, after the jump.)

Most of the discussion addresses general points about leadership, as opposed to issues relating to law or the legal profession. Aside from the deposition story, this section about how Amy Schulman conducts a job search merits notice:

I recently had an interview with a candidate where I asked them a question about a job transition, and the answer was just completely disingenuous. Everybody else loved this person, but I said, we can’t hire them. Because what I’m really looking for is honesty. It’s not that there’s a right answer to the questions I’m asking. It’s whether you’re going to be straightforward with me. If you’re just going to give me white noise, if you’re going to opt for the safe answer, then it’s probably not going to work out really well over the long-term.

If you recently interviewed with Pfizer and didn’t get the job, well, now you know why.

For any in-house lawyers who might interview with Amy Schulman in the future, here’s what you should be prepared for:

What do you consider your best interview questions?

One is, tell me what brought you here. That’s usually the first question I ask. What are the steps that either led you to want to make this change now, or why do you think this next step is the right step? And what do you hope to get out of this? That’s a way of getting people to open up about what their motivations are, and what their journey is. Then I usually say, here’s how we function as a team, and here are some of the things that are important to know about the way we work together. Then I ask, what do you think the hardest thing about this will be for you? That way, people are really forced to be open about their style, or they will reveal themselves as not capable of being self-reflective. So if I accurately describe what it’s like to work with me, or what it’s like to work on our team, and then say to somebody, tell me what you think is going to be hard for you about that, that’s often the most revealing answer I get.

It sounds a bit like the behavioral interviewing described by fellow in-house lawyer Mark Herrmann, doesn’t it? Query whether in-house interviews are more substantive or require more thoughtfulness from the candidate than the résumé-driven interviews that law firms often conduct.

A Blueprint for Leadership: Show, Don’t Tell [New York Times]

Earlier: Inside Straight: Thinking About Interviews

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