The divide between “being a nice guy” and “being an asshat” is often found in the willingness to share. The compulsion to bombard everyone’s inbox with advice just to be
smug friendly can turn even the most well-meaning effort into an inspiration for eye rolls.
Like a 1600-word screed directed at one’s schoolmates, offering unsolicited interview advice.
That would cross that line…
Let’s have a round of applause for “Harry Husky.” Harry, a 3L at the University of Washington School of Law, sent his unsolicited guide to on-campus interviewing to a group of selected 1Ls. The advice provided is actually genuinely helpful. It’s also incredibly self-indulgent. For example:
12) I will not be here, starting on August 8th, (SE Asia!), so if you want any feedback before then, give me a shout. Happy to do mock interviews and meet for lunch/coffee.
Harry is available if someone wants to pay tribute to his interviewing genius, y’all. Again, offering to help 1Ls with mock interviews is a nice move. Doing so at the end of a manifesto is a douche move. It’s a subtle distinction.
Harry also provides sample chit-chat for his readers:
Example: DO NOT USE THIS. Loves steep learning curves.
Interviewer: Do you like law school?
Me: I’m not sure whether anyone really likes law school *ha… ha*, but I like it in a sense that it presents a steep learning curve. You’re placed in an entirely foreign environment and for the most part, left to fend for yourself. You have to be resourceful, resilient, and dedicated to the task at hand. The work itself ranges from fun to monotonous, but I love that opportunity to work hard each and every day at building up the type of incremental knowledge and proficiency that leads to results. That type of challenge is exactly what I’m looking for as a legal career, and what I hope to take on at xxx firm. I know the hours won’t be easy, but I’m okay with that, in fact, I thrive in that type of environment.
The scripted laughter really gives this canned answer a certain je ne sais quoi, no? I’m assuming Harry warns students not to use this example to encourage each to draft a personal response. He should have warned them not to use this example because it’s f**king terrible. It’s such an obviously contrived, disingenuous response to an honest question. As an interviewer, I’d immediately start knocking the recruit down on my evaluation sheet the moment an interviewee started to explain how law school works to me. Newsflash: the interviewer went to law school. They know law school ranges from fun (Bar Review) to monotonous (everything else).
When you build your traits, make a list of things that firms are looking for. Then, shoehorn your experiences/strengths into those listed items. Take something you did this summer and communicate a trait with it.
It shouldn’t take a brainiac to figure out how, in my two examples, those traits could be translated into a variety of questions, such as what my favorite class is, why I wanted to go to law school, why I want to work at the firm, whatever. The key is to have a trait that you are communicating to the firm when they ask you a question. Once you master that, you’re set. You’ll already have an answer to virtually every question. And by repeating those narrative traits, you’ll make it better each and every time. By the end of OCI I had an incredibly compelling narrative that I could glue into any series of questions.
I always hated when someone tried to take straightforward questions (e.g., “do you like law school?”) and drive hard to the “please hire me” hoop. In interviewing, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
And Harry had an “incredibly compelling narrative”? I’m not sure that’s something one can honestly self-evaluate. It is, however, something one can egotistically assert.
But again, Harry is trying to be helpful. The problem with most gunners is best diagnosed in Fight Club: so many people have told these kids their whole lives that they are unique snowflakes that they honestly believe everyone is waiting with bated breath for their next mind nugget. We’re not.
I say “most” gunners, because some gunners are just dicks.
(You can read Harry Husky’s full memo on the next page if you like. He tackles everything from picking firms to fashion choices to the virtues of small firms. See if you agree with his advice.)