Interview Stories

There are no magic questions to take through the interview process. There are only areas to be examined. Life is one long extemporaneous speech. It is not canned dialogue. The student who prepares and understands the areas that are significant to her decision will know where to focus her questions.

Some questions should be directed at associates, while others should be directed to partners. Students sometimes forget that they can actually learn something more about the firm by asking questions. Yes, the questions you ask will be assessed by the interviewer; but please don’t ask certain questions for the sake of asking questions.

This helpful information is provided by Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball. What follows is an outline of areas you may want to consider, but remember who your audience is….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center: To Be, or Not To Be (An Associate) – Interview Questions You Should Ask”

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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center: Questions You May Be Asked In Your Interview”

At law schools and law firms around the country, on-campus interviewing and callback interviews are in full swing. We’ve been covering the fall (or summer?) recruiting process quite closely, offering you a mix of interview advice, humorous anecdotes, and soul-crushing reality checks.

Now it’s your turn to talk back to us….

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Congratulations! After enduring several hours of OCI “speed dating,” you scored a callback interview. You have done your research, gotten “in the zone,” and it’s off to the firm reception area for a day of interviews. You’re tense — which is proof that you’re alive and that you care. You’re worried that you don’t know as much as you should — which is proof that you are not arrogant or presumptuous. You’re as focused as you were the day before final examinations began at the end of first year — because you know there is a lot on the line.

Exhale, check your breath, and make sure you reviewed the following tips, courtesy of Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, before you set out for your interview….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center: The Callback Interview – Why the Relaxed, Well Prepared Student Will Prevail”

Do I look like “Dear Abby”?

Somehow, because I’m working in-house and writing this column, I’ve become the adviser to the disaffected. A correspondent now asks: “I’ve worked at a Biglaw firm for several years, am at the end of my rope, and am interviewing for an in-house job next week. How will an interview for an in-house job differ from a Biglaw interview?”

I have three reactions: First, the interview may not be different at all. The in-house lawyers who are interviewing you may be veterans of Biglaw, and they may not have changed their interview styles when they changed jobs. Being qualified and pleasant may be plenty to land the job, as it is at many large law firms that are hiring new associates wholesale.

But the interview may be different in two ways that you should consider….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Small Firms, Big Lawyers, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

As the owner of a small law firm, I’m always surprised at how many blind résumés I receive in the mail. First of all, who even uses mail anymore? Does anyone seriously think that I’m going take them more seriously because they used cream-colored, 100% cloth, 24-pound bond paper? I’m not.

But forget the résumés for a minute; for me, it’s the cover letter that tells me whether I want to interview this person. Over the years, I’ve received thousands of cover letters from lawyers and law students. I’ve gotten to the point where I really don’t need to read the résumé before I’ve made my decision.

So with that in mind, here are 11 tips for writing cover letters to potential employers.

1. Spell my frikkin’ name right. You’d be astounded at how many times candidates blow this one.…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Small Firms, Big Lawyers: Enclosed Please Find … No Reason to Hire Me”

Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Small Firms, Big Lawyers, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

It’s been many years, but I still remember the steps I took to land a job at a small law firm. Even though some of the methods have changed with technology, law students and potentially on-the-move associates might find this tale instructive.

After flaming out in the on-campus-interviewing process, I went to the library and looked up law firms in the Boston area. (This was before the Internet but after libraries.) I wrote down the names of dozens of firms, then went to the Martindale-Hubbell books and looked up the different firms. (Yeah, I know: quaint.) I selected lawyers whose practice areas or backgrounds or law schools or something seemed like a match for me, and I wrote down (in actual handwriting) their names and contact information. I then went back to my apartment, fired up the Wang word processor (OK, now I’m just messing with you), and entered them into a mail-merge form letter.

I then mailed dozens of nearly identical form letters (“Dear Lawyer …”) to attorneys around Boston, enclosing completely identical copies of my résumé. The letters said basically the same thing as the résumés, except in paragraph form (I used bullet points in the résumé), and asked for an interview.

Guess how well this method worked.…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Small Firms, Big Lawyers: The Secret to Finding a Small-Firm Job”

'So, do you have any questions for ME?'

Not too long ago, when law firms used to supersize their summer associate classes and make offers to anyone who had a pulse, callback interviews were a mere formality.  Today’s post-recessionary firms are understandably more careful about hiring, and as a result,the callback interview has become a sine qua non for getting into Biglaw.  We talked with an attorney recruiter, as well as attorneys currently conducting callback interviews, to bring you the top ten tips for getting an edge over the competition.

The complete article is available on the Career Center, but we’ve highlighted the first three tips after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Career Center: Navigating the Callback – 10 Tips for a Successful Interview”

The weather is seasonal in New York City today, but for most of this week we’ve experienced a little heat wave. Near record high temperatures were recorded throughout the tri-state area.

Apparently, Cardozo Law School was completely unprepared for this spate of summer weather, and it nearly ruined the school’s “OCI Preview” event for 1Ls desperate to snag jobs next recruiting season. Multiple tipsters reported variations on the same theme. I’ll use a version that doesn’t involve cursing: “I pay over $40,000 in tuition yet my law school can’t even turn the A/C on when I’m trying to network for a job.”

It was so bad that Cardozo had to send around an apology to the students for making them network in a sauna. And according to the email, Cardozo truly couldn’t figure out how to simply turn the A/C “on”…

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Department of Justice seal DOJ seal Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgWho says the wheels of government turn slowly? Earlier this month, we reminded you that Justice Department Honors Program applications were almost due. Now, three short weeks later, candidates are hearing back about interviews. Sources report:

“DOJ Honors interview notifications have gone out. I was fortunate enough to snare one in the Civil Division. You might want to put up an open thread for discussion.”

“Interview invites came out Wednesday, information about which component came out Thursday. Open thread?”

We aim to please. Here you go.

If interview notifications went out on Wednesday, was that ahead of schedule? According to the list of key dates on the Honors Program website, today is supposed to be the day that the DOJ “notifies candidates selected for interviews by e-mail.”

Feel free to discuss the Honors Program interview process — which components you’re interviewing with, what you’d like to know about the process, or what you already know about the process (for those of you who have been through it) — in the comments.

The Attorney General’s Honors Program [U.S. Department of Justice]
AG’s Honors Program Key Dates [U.S. Department of Justice]

Earlier: Reminder: DOJ Honors Program Applications Are Almost Due
Open Thread: The DOJ Is Hiring Again …
Fall Recruiting Open Thread: DOJ Honors Program

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