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Tools for Landing the Job
Preparing for the Interview
Think of interviewing as a proactive rather than reactive process.
- Research the organization in advance to determine its size, practice area mix, and hiring criteria. If you know who will interview you, research the individual to determine practice area, alma mater, and years with the organization. You want to be able to demonstrate the relationship between what you have to offer and what this legal employer values.
- Review your resume line by line. Any experience you list on your resume is likely to generate detailed questions, so be prepared to fully discuss all of them.
- Develop an agenda of the top three things you want an interviewer to know about you at the end of the interview. You might say, "At the end of the interview, I want the employer to know I'm committed to a large firm practice, perform best under pressure and have the energy and drive to meet high billable expectations."
- Since you will be asked a mix of traditional and behavioral questions, you will want to develop concrete examples and concise stories you can use to demonstrate your skills. If, for example, one of your top strengths is adaptability, you can describe the various projects you handled on a previous job and relate your adaptability to the ability to manage the unpredictability of a litigation practice or the ease with which you will be able to shift priorities and respond to various clients' needs as they arise.
- Practice your answers out loud. You will feel more comfortable, and thus, more persuasive.
- Develop a list of questions to ask the employer. The number and specificity of your questions is interpreted as a measure of your interest in an employer. Avoid asking questions answered in the organization's literature or on its website.
- Bring extra copies of your resume, transcript, and writing sample, as well as a list of professional references, including at least one or two law professors, in addition to former employers or other professionals familiar with your work. Include name, title, employer, address, email and phone number for each reference.
As you prepare, remember that the Office of Career Services is always happy to conduct a practice interview with you before your actual interview.
Be professionally dressed and alert, as first impressions count. Whether interviewing on or off campus, arrive early. Be kind, courteous and professional with everyone in the organization, including anyone from the security guard to the receptionist to the secretaries to the partners, since all may have input in the hiring decision.
When greeted by the interviewer, introduce yourself and extend your hand for a firm handshake. Remember to maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
Be cognizant of when your interview time is ending. If there are questions you feel have not been answered, or if you feel you have not yet conveyed certain points highlighting your qualifications, do so as the interview begins to draw to a close. Be sure to restate your interest in the position and why you would make a special contribution to the organization. Tell your interviewer how much you have enjoyed talking with him or her, and confirm your interest and excitement about the position. Finally, thank the interviewer for the time they set aside to interview you.