Tips for job interviews

August 13th, 2012 by Briana Cummings

Culled from a number of sources on applying for legal jobs:

(1) Thoroughly research the organization. Look not only at the organization’s web site, but also try to find recent news articles on the organization. Try such sources as Lexis-Nexis, BloombergThe Wall Street Journal, and legal news sites. Also speak to classmates and alumni from your school who have worked for the employer.

In the interview, mentioning that you have read about the organization in the news and/or talked to former employees makes you look resourceful and genuinely interested in the organization.

(2) Be able to answer the question “Why did you go to law school?” Practice how you will answer this. Start your answer with a strong thesis statement (“I went to law school because . . .”), rather than with a long roundabout story about how you ended up in law school. Then try to talk about how your reasons for going to law school are connected to your interest in the organization. It also helps to talk about how you are enjoying law school, with concrete examples.

Talent Show

Talent Show (Photo credit: Bill Gracey)

(3) Prepare an outline of your strongest skills/traits and three examples of each. Learn it cold. This will help you pull out concrete examples on the spot during the interview. For example, think about specific examples of where you demonstrated efficiency, follow through, conflict resolution, initiative, etc.

(4) Be able to articulate why you are interested in the particular organization — what you think is special about them. Think about this in terms of the mission of the organization, for example, or the specific types of work they do. Legal employers are particularly concerned about hiring people who are truly engaged in their work.

(5) Be able to articulate why you are interested in the particular job you are applying for at the organization. In this economy, employers want to know you are truly “hungry” for the job, not just applying for lack of other options.

(6) Carefully plan the questions you want to ask during the interview. As you’ve probably heard before, these should not be questions that can be readily answered by the employer’s web site or through cursory research. And they should demonstrate your sincere interest in the organization.

(7) Anticipate questions you are likely to be asked and prepare answers ahead of time. For example, depending on your circumstances, you might expect an employer to ask about a gap in a resume, your reason for switching careers, low grades, or reasons for wanting to work in a particular city.

(8) Practice out loud.

For more, see “Ten Ways Law Students Can Be More Persuasive in Interviews,” by Lisa Abrams, the Director of Career Services at the University of Chicago, printed in the August 2012 NALP Bulletin.

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