Interview advice — demonstrate that your skill set matches the employer’s need

This post attempts to address one common question LegalJob is receiving during this Fall interviewing time.  How can I crush my firm interview (initial, call backs, etc.)?  Overall, your mission is to "sell" the employer on the idea that (i) you understand what the employer is looking for and (ii) your specific skill fits well with the employer's needs/wants.  To accomplish the mission, consider the following:

Determine the employer's needs/wants.

  • Research the firm and the lawyers with whom you will meet
  • Listen during the interview
  • If not covered sufficiently, ask for specifics
  • Repeat back what you understand the employer is looking for based on comments/and prior research if relevant (and get some type of confirmation that your understanding is accurate)

Articulate concisely why your background and skill set make you a decent match (do not oversell, you are not the only match).

  • If using prior work experience/clinic experience to make your case, get into the weeds (details) but get out quickly
    • Before getting out, mention how your skill set helped accomplish the goal in the project you are describing (i.e., you prepared spreadsheets to help client understand concepts and your background in accounting enables you to move easily between words and numbers to translate information)
    • Leverage that discussion to explain how that skill set will help this particular employer based on its needs
  • If using academic experience to make your case, explain specifically how that background will translate to strong legal work and generally how that background will help the employer
    • Be thinking of how your background will help you write/think/talk like a lawyer in this particular firm doing xyz law
    • Perhaps you can demonstrate the first half --- that you can write/think/talk like a lawyer -- because you won writing competitions or moot court, or excelled in all classes pertaining to the subject area in which you will be working
    • For the second half -- how it will help the employer -- talk to folks that work at the firm or others before your interview to get a strong sense of what type of clients/projects the firm handles in the particular area in which you are interested.

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