OCI’s coming, and it’s a buyer’s market. Law students who do their research will have a distinct advantage. And we want to help Above the Law readers out-compete their peers.
Check out the ATL Law Firm Directory, our new resource to help you compare among potential law firm employers and prepare for the crucial interview season. See what insiders have to say about where they work and review our new law firm ratings, based on our ongoing survey of the massive ATL audience. Stay tuned for more updates from the ATL Research Team.
There’s information in the Career Center that won’t just help you for your interviews, it will also help you choose the law firm that is right for you. For instance one up-and-coming-firm, dubbed the “Most Feared & Loathed Firm in Silicon Valley,” owns a ping-pong table that converts into their conference board room. They know exactly what they’re looking for; are you looking for them?
Our friends at JD Match provided 14 key interview tips. Again we want to help you get a job this OCI season, so check out the tips…
You can find their full job hunting tips here, but we’ve highlighted some of the best below:
1. Get real.
By that I mean, be dead serious about each and every interview. These are golden opportunities; none should be wasted because you didn’t do your homework or decided to wing it. Even if an interview is with a firm lower on your preferred list, you may be pleasantly surprised, and if you haven’t prepared properly you may lose out at that firm.
2. Make them all love you.
On average firms call back about only about 25% of students they conduct screening interviews with. Do as much as you can to ensure the maximum number of callbacks. Then get ready for more interviewing…
3. Prepare and rehearse your story in nuggets rather than as a single narrative.
This way you’ll be able to use the most germane points when answering specific questions. These nuggets should be no more than one to two minutes long. You should prepare nuggets that cover key areas of your resume, law school experience, writing sample, achievements and even outside interests. Each nugget should be clear and make the point you want it to. If they want to hear more, they’ll ask.
4. “Newspaper” style.
State the most important points in the first one or two sentences.
These should be work- or academic-related and relevant to the firm. If this isn’t readily obvious, connect the dots succinctly. Use recent achievements wherever possible and reference specific, tangible results. Numbers (dollars, percent growth, etc.) work wonders.
6. “Tell me about yourself.”
Ugh. It’s going to come up. Memorize a two-minute summary from childhood to the present day. That said, deliver it with spontaneity.
7. Strengths and weaknesses.
Strengths are easy; just make sure they are relevant for each firm. For weaknesses, do not mention strengths carried to a fault, i.e., “sometimes I’ve been told I’m a workaholic.” Consider instead mentioning a (non-fatal) weakness and what you’re doing to overcome it.
8. Anticipate the other predictable questions.
If you don’t have answers to these it’s high time you did…
- Why do you want to be a lawyer?
- Why are you going to law school?
- What specifically about our firm is attractive to you?
- Tell me about one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome.
- What do in your spare time?
(Hopefully not mosh pit concerts, or obsessively updating Facebook.)
9. Attitude: the “Goldilocks” approach.
Confident; neither diffident nor arrogant. Affable: neither cheerless nor laughable. Focused but not scary intense. People want to be around people they like. Lawyers are no different. This applies to highly credentialed candidates as well. Don’t reek entitlement. It’s just not attractive.
10. Be attentive.
Don’t be so focused on what you want to say that you ignore signals from the interviewer. Maintain eye contact so you can pick up on visual cues.
The really obvious stuff.
This is not the time to express your inner Goth. Get two conservative suits, the best quality you can afford. White shirts. Men: dark, subtle ties. Ladies; tasteful jewelry. Get a haircut. Shine your (dark) shoes. Ladies; a little clear nail polish wouldn’t hurt.
12. Show up.
Also obvious (but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include). Arrive early and review the cheat sheet as well as the pertinent questions you prepared for each firm. Give your self a once-over. Breathe. Knock on the door at the exact time your interview is scheduled to start. When you enter, offer a firm though not crushing handshake. And smile.
13. And, of course: What to bring.
Several copies of your resume, law school transcript, writing sample and professional/academic references (your Mom doesn’t count). Have a friend proofread all. And spring for quality paper. Little things do make a difference. As you leave, request a business card.
14. Finally, send a thank you note.
It needn’t be lengthy. Two or three paragraphs suffice. Discuss some thoughts on what came up at the interview. Also, no “hard sell.” Handwritten is nice, if you write legibly.