This post provides some best practices for interviewing.
Best practices include demonstrating commitment to living in the firm city for a long time, and knowledge of the firm, and articulating how you will specifically contribute.
A third post will follow with additional interviewing tips and keys to effective follow-up.
► Firms want folks that are committed to living in the firm city for a long time.
- This point is especially true in transitional cities such as DC.
- Demonstrate that you intend to live where you are interviewing for the long haul:
- Point out that your family lives in town or close
- Point out that your spouse’s family lives in town or is close
- Point out that you have lived in the area for a long time
- Point out that you intend to stay in the area even if you none of the above is true
► Firms are interested in candidates that have deep knowledge of firm (not just from the website).
- Perhaps the candidate has a contact that works at the firm
- Perhaps the firm was recommended by someone with deep knowledge (law professor, client, former or current associate or partner)
- It helps to know about the firm’s culture, history, and the clients it represents
- Career services department at law school could be helpful with information resources (books and alumni contacts)
► Make sure to mention how you can make an immediate contribution to the team (drawing from your background, experience, personality, etc.)
► Anticipate what is going to be asked regarding your resume and address it up front (particularly for sensitive matters)
- Grades (GPA not listed or low)
- The idea is not to make excuses but to emphasize your strengths (i.e., earned excellent grades in the area you want to practice, or obtained substantive, hands-on experience while in school)
- Lost job
- Perhaps you can provide a recommendation letter from a former partner if the firing was based on merit and not economics
- If there is another reason, try to distinguish that work environment from the current situation (i.e., work was slow, not the type of work you want to concentrate on, limited opportunities for growth and development, etc.).
► Be honest if you do not have a lot of experience in particular area.
- Do not fake it, people can see through you (especially those practicing for many years)
- Stress the areas in which you do have solid experience (and highlight your specific contributions)
- Note that people can distinguish between surface level and heavy lifting work experience (which is why it is helpful to have substantive experience to talk about in the interview). If all you have is surface level, you may still be able to impress if you can articulate the legal issues (which you may not have had to resolve) concisely and clearly.