By Luisa Peredo Ewing, Associate Director, SEO Law
Law firm interviews are about the candidate and the firm getting to know each other and deciding, on both sides, whether they are a good match. As a candidate, this process can be anxiety-inducing (understandably so). However, nerves and anxiety will work against you. The best way to beat anxiety is to know what the expectations are. Here are our top tips for a successful law firm interview:
- Soul-search: Law firms want people who want to be there. The first step is to think about why you want to be at the firm. It seems silly, but it’s definitely something the interviewer is trying to determine during your conversation. Make it easy by explaining why you want to practice in that city, in that practice area, and at the particular firm. Narrow your focus to just a couple of cities and/or practice areas if you are still deciding and be clear as to why you chose the options. Be specific! You might think that not having a focus makes you more flexible, but it actually comes across as immature and poorly prepared. If the interviewer is not asking you the questions, take control and offer up the information.
- Research: Being prepared is essential. Before your interview, you should spend a lot of time on the firm’s website. What practice areas does the firm focus on in the city in which you’re interested? What are some of the firm’s recent cases or transactions? How does the firm present itself to potential clients and candidates? If you know who is interviewing you, read their bios and learn a little bit about who they are.
- Prepare your pitch: The hardest question you can be asked as an interviewee is, “tell me about yourself.” Come up with highlights from your professional experience, educational background and professional interests. Make it short, to the point, and interesting. You can explain why you decided to be a lawyer, why your particular background prepared you to be a stellar associate, and why you want to be at that firm. Assume the interviewer knows nothing about you, because more than likely they’ve barely glanced at your resume before you arrived.
- Practice: Before the interview, practice your answers! Investigate resources that might be available to you for mock interviews, or at the very least, practice with a friend who has been through law firm interviews before.
- Enthusiasm: The interview is not a time for negativity. Keep it positive. If you have doubts or hard questions you’d like to ask the firm, save them for after you’ve received an offer.
- Questions: Come up with solid, positive questions to ask your interviewers at the end. If you have no questions, you seem disinterested. You can ask questions about them (why did they pick the firm/practice area?) or about the firm. Avoid questions about the hiring process—save those for legal recruiting. Do not ask anything relating to workload, hours or anything else that might be construed negatively.
- Interests: If you have an “interests” section on your resume, be sure you’ve updated it and at least know what you put down! There is nothing worse than being asked about your interests during an interview only to have nothing intelligent to say. Also be sure the interests are professional and cannot be misinterpreted.
- Day-of tips: Remember your SEO attire! SEO business formal is perfect for interviews. Do not wear anything that could distract your interviewer, or make you seem unprofessional. Print out copies of your resume and transcript and bring them with you. Finally, do not be late!
- Follow-up: Send one short thank you email to each interviewer and to your liaison in legal recruiting. Do not expect a response, and do not email more than once.
The best interviews are flowing conversations. Prepare diligently to calm any nerves so that you can best present yourself during the interview. If you can make the interviewers’ jobs easy by letting them know what they need to know while also allowing them to get to know you better, you will have advocates when it comes time to make hiring decisions. Good luck!