Job interviews are stressful by nature.
The stakes are high, as one wrong move could cost you gainful employment, and the stress of that situation is compounded by the fact that many other candidates are doing their best to make themselves look better than you.
If you know what to expect and how to handle yourself during an interview, though, it doesn’t have to be so stressful. The following tips will help you get through an interview with a law firm and increase your chances of being hired:
A Tale of Two Interviews
Sometimes, the first “interview” you sit down for won’t be an in-depth interview at all, but rather a short, casual chat to see if your personality will mesh well with their culture.
In fact, it’s fairly normal for no specific questions about law to even be asked during your first meeting with a law firm, other than some brief talk about your resume.
This is a particularly common practice at larger firms, where an open position will generally attract a lot of applicants. In cases like this, there just isn’t enough time to give every worthy candidate an in-depth interview. The first round of interviews will be used to weed out any applicants who seemed a lot better on paper than they do in person, and the second round of interviews will be used to take a closer look at the cream of the crop.
Dos and Don’ts
Do research the firm you’re applying to, as well as the person who’s interviewing you if you can. Dropping a specific fact or two about the company during the interview, or perhaps congratulating the interviewer on a recent award or promotion, will help you stand out from the rest of the pack.
Don’t bring up any details about the personal life of the interviewer that you might have gleaned from Facebook or some other social media source. That’s inappropriate.
Talking about your previous legal experience is something you should absolutely do in order to showcase what you can bring to the firm.
Be careful, though, to make sure you don’t make any negative remarks about any firms you’ve worked for. No matter how bad a former employer may have treated you, complaining about it in this setting is off-putting and unprofessional.
The Cheat Sheet
Every firm is different, and some interviewers are cleverer than others. That said, there are a few stock questions that seem to pop up in just about every interview with a law firm. Here are a few such questions that you will probably be asked, as well as some advice on how to answer these questions:
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? You see yourself working your way up the ladder at the firm you’re applying to, of course.
- Could you tell me about a time you went above and beyond at a previous job? Drawing a blank here will make it seem like you don’t do much more than the bare minimum. Have a story ready beforehand and you’ll make a good impression.
- Do you have any questions about our firm? You want to always say yes to this question, as not doing so will have you appearing disinterested in the firm. Do enough research before the interview and a good question is sure to present itself to you.
You’ve Got This
It doesn’t matter whether you’re applying to a local boutique firm or an operation as big as Baker & McKenzie – confidence will help you get the job.
If you’re not confident about yourself, what reason could a firm possibly have to be confident in you?
That’s a big part of why it’s so important to study up on a firm before you interview with them. Regardless of how much useful information you actually retain, putting in a few hours of prep will make you feel more confident when it’s time for the interview, and speaking with confidence will make every answer you give and everything else you say sound significantly more convincing.
In short, talk about your experience, but don’t be negative. Ask questions, but don’t interrogate. Be confident, but not brash.
The art of the interview is all about balance. Keep that in mind, and any job is yours for the taking.
If you need a visual guide, Tenge Law Firm LLC made a a visual guide to help all new lawyers get the job.