Early Interview Program

Good luck to all of our readers who are now going through the on-campus interview process for 2015 summer associate positions. We’re sure that, armed with Anonymous Recruitment Director’s 8 tips for OCI, you are racking up offers left and right.

Once you have the offers, how do you decide between them? How do you weigh, for example, overall prestige versus strength in a specific practice area?

To this question we now turn….

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It’s that time of the year when law students should start preparing for on-campus interviews. They’re straightforward, right? Wrong. ATL’s recruiting experts have designed this challenge to help you determine whether you really know how to nail the interview. Take the On-Campus Interviewing for Law Firms challenge and find out if you are truly ready for OCI season.

(This challenge is brought to you in partnership with our friends at CredSpark.)

Take the On-Campus Interviewing for Law Firms challenge here.

As the dates for on-campus interviews approach, I would like to share with rising 2Ls a few lessons that I have learned from colleagues at firms and law schools about the summer associate application process. As always, in doing so, I run the risk of being called an elitist pig; however, my firm has over 30 positions to fill this fall, and this elitist pig would be delighted if you were one of the individuals to land one of these well-paid spots.

1. You will be given 20 to 30 minutes to make a favorable impression on the on-campus interviewer. Over the years, candidates have tried every tactic in the book to be remembered. This includes outlandish outfits, bringing the interviewer baked goods, and, the worst, flirting with the interviewer. I believe that your main task during the interview is to demonstrate MATURITY. You do not need to demonstrate that you are cool, fun, athletic, perpetually happy, etc. You just need to leave the interviewer thinking that you seemed like a mature individual.

The on-campus interviewer is only going to take a risk on a candidate who he or she thinks will reflect well on him or her. In other words, Partner X wants to call back candidates who will perform well during the callback; if the candidate does well, Partner X looks good to his colleagues. Stated differently, any candidate who is a risk will not be given a callback because Partner X is concerned that his peers will question his judgment by offering a callback to an immature, unfocused, or odd candidate.

Be safe by presenting as mature. So how does a candidate demonstrate maturity?

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Ed. note: This is the latest post by Anonymous Recruitment Director, who offers an insider’s perspective on the world of law firm hiring.

I have received hundreds of emails over the past few months from job seekers, and today I would like to answer some of these questions.

The Recruitment Team

1. Do you take a sadistic pleasure in rejecting candidates?

I have received emails calling me “smug,” “arrogant,” “fat,” and “in all likelihood unattractive.” I am fat and, on most days, unattractive, so well done on that front. However, I am not smug or arrogant. BigLaw is a particular work environment, and it is an environment that I have observed firsthand for 20 years. I am trying to provide readers with some inside information. Please recall that it is just a singular viewpoint on a huge industry.

Neither I nor my colleagues enjoy denying smart people who have worked hard a chance to work in the setting of their choice. There is nothing gratifying about rejecting a candidate.

2. Does the scan of the applicant’s transcript come before or after you review the résumé?

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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…

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File this under: “reasons why the alumni office should clear everything with the PR department.”

Yesterday, somebody at Columbia Law School sent out an email to recent alumni asking for a $1,000 donation (or twelve $85 monthly installments) to help current law students. No, Columbia isn’t setting up another scholarship fund for public interest fellows. CLS isn’t even trying to make direct cash transfers to unemployed graduates in exchange for their silence. Instead, Columbia wants $1,000 from alumni to help offset the cost of the “early interview program” during which Columbia rising 2Ls interview with Biglaw firms and snag offers for jobs.

Do you think Columbia culled its alumni list to make sure that only graduates who were also working in Biglaw were even asked to make this kind of questionable donation? Of course they didn’t! A bunch of Columbia grads who aren’t working in Biglaw were asked to… wait, let me get this language exactly right:

“Give a student the chance at a dream job.”

Hilarity ensues….

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In this week’s Career Center Tips Series, Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, an expert recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner, discusses the importance of research prior to on-campus interviewing.

View the interview as an athletic contest that requires energy, preparation, and constant flexibility. You will turn the tables and impress the employer with your knowledge of her firm. Even the toughest question (about bad grades and the like) can be handled with aplomb. The lawyer who projects an image of relaxed self-confidence will carry the day. Think for a moment about the differences between nervous, high energy politicians (George Bush “41″ and Michael Dukakis) and relaxed and self confident politicians (Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton). In politics, law, or medicine, a good bedside manner is critical to care for citizens, clients and patients.

You have begun a multi-decade career as a lawyer after investing three years and a small fortune. Just as the first year of law school was a demanding mélange of information, chaos, rumor, fact, stress, and progress, so too will be the process of finding the right place to continue your career. From the beginning of the process through the final decision, the student who understands the prospective employer will compete more effectively.

How can you become better prepared for an interview? Read on, after the jump….

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While no one was immune from the economic downturn, over the past two years, graduate employment figures for Harvard law students have matched those over the prior twenty years.

Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School, in an email sent to the HLS class of 2012 (reprinted in full after the jump).

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Now that the summer is almost over, the Career Center will be switching gears and posting tips and advice on the most magical time of the year for law students — On-Campus Interviews (OCI). In the next few weeks, law firms will be dropping down the chimneys of law schools across the country, giving summer clerkship offers to good little boys and girls. Obviously, you need the grades and class rank to be initially placed on the “Good List,” but to remain on that list once firms are “checking it twice,” it is important to be prepared when firms are “gonna find out who is naughty or nice.”

Now enough with the Christmas puns and on to the first OCI Tips post, brought to you by Lateral Link’s Frank Kimball, legal recruiter and former Biglaw hiring partner….

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If we all try really hard, maybe we can get 2L interviewing season to start immediately after 1L finals.

For the second time in three years, Harvard Law School has decided to start it’s early interviewing program (EIP) earlier in the year. But this time they’ve also decided to push back the start of fall classes. The net effect will be that HLS 2Ls will be able to show up on campus in the middle of the summer, interview and have their callback before their classes start.

So this is really an admission from HLS that the old rule that firms would “hold open” a number of summer spots for HLS students is no longer true…

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