Dear 1L: Advice for Legal Job Interviews
by Amanda Haverstick
This article originally appeared here on writinglawtutors.com.
If you’re feeling anxious about upcoming interviews for your first “legal” job, that’s normal. Here’s some advice from the 100 or so law-student interviews I’ve conducted.
1. BE YOURSELF. The best job interviews proceed like a normal conversation.
🔹 Do not recite rehearsed answers. Have a natural dialogue. Relax and talk to your interviewer just like you would a colleague of your parents or some random relative who’s a lawyer.
—> Should you prepare a canned answer? Yes, but prepare 3-4. You don’t want to sound stale. Have a few variations ready so you stay fresh.
🔹 Smile. Not sure why it works, but injecting an energetic smile into the conversation periodically does wonders.
2. BE PREPARED. The best students come thoroughly prepared. By this I mean, not only are they ready with topics to discuss, but they also have ready many intelligent questions about my firm and me.
🔹 Read as much as you can about the employer. Do not ask, e.g., whether the firm supports pro bono work, when an entire page on the firm’s website provides detailed examples that you already should know about.
🔹 Ask questions that your interviewer will enjoy answering.
-Learn about your interviewer. They are just human. Maybe their LinkedIn “About” section mentions they spent a year in another city or country where you have lived or visited. Maybe their profile mentions they love dogs, tennis, or jazz. All of those topics can produce excellent conversations.
-Ask about your interviewer’s career and how they came to work where they do. Also ripe fodder are cases handled, articles written, presentations delivered, etc.
-People like to talk about themselves. Play to your interviewer’s ego. If you can get them talking about interesting topics, they’ll likely come away from the interview thinking that YOU are interesting.
3. SHOW MORE THAN TELL. The best students support the adjectives they use to describe themselves with concrete specifics.
🔹 Better than saying you “have strong leadership qualities,” is describing how you founded and headed a new student organization on campus, or how you rallied classmates behind a cause.
🔹 Better than asserting that you are a “good team player,” is describing your role working on a recent group project.
🔹 Make sure you come in with several examples to illustrate your qualities, not just bare assertions that you have those qualities.
I have more, but this post is getting long. I am sending out good cheer to you all.
Amanda is the author of the popular #Dear1L blog, founder of Writing Law Tutors, and legal writing coach for lawyers and law students.
Amanda previously spent 20 years as a Labor & Employment lawyer in BigLaw and as an in-house counsel at a Fortune 500 company. She has also served as a career services consultant assisting law students at one of the nation’s top law schools.
I aspire to simplify and improve the quality of your law school journey and to promote your greatest possible success.
Read more at writinglawtutors.com.
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