Category Archives: Interviewing

Landing an Interview

If you are trying to land an interview, here are some tips to getting the interview and getting hired.

1.  Research each firm carefully.  Let the firm know you are interested and why you are a good fit.  Ensure you do your homework on the practice areas or specialties of the firm and the attorney with whom you will be interviewing.  They can tell if you are prepared and interested in them, or if you are just winging it.  If you show you are serious, you will be received more warmly.

2.   Be enthusiastic!  If you know you would absolutely accept an offer from the firm, let them know in your interview, thank you note, and in any follow up you may have. 

3.   Be sure your resume, cover letter and thank you notes are perfect.  If they see misspellings, typos, or grammatical errors, your application will be dismissed.  It is that simple.  Please ensure you review your documents with your Career Services Counselor prior to submission.  Please call 256-7744 to make an appointment.

4.   To better your chances, consider applying to firms that are located a little farther away from your desired locale.  You will still be in the area, and you will have the benefit of  a wider variety of firms.

5.   Network.  You can join the local bar association and then get involved.  Most voluntary bar associations will welcome you as a Student Member.  You will have the opportunity to meet many practicing attorneys who may remember you when they hear of an opportunity or position.

6.   Be a leader.  Emphasize in your resume and then in interviews leadership roles you have held or your local voluntary bar involvement.  Firms are looking for those people who know how to network successfully and will be able to bring in future business.

7.   Be ready to give examples during an interview of how you may have solved a problem, showed leadership or acted as a team player in the past.  Don’t be surprised if employers ask a question of this sort and be prepared with an answer.

Interviewers’ Pet Peeves

So, you’ve landed an interview for a position and you want to be prepared.  Make sure, then, to avoid things that may jeopardize your chances. 

1.  Showing up late.  If being late is unavoidable, make sure you call and explain the reason.  Do not, though, run behind due to your lack of planning–it implies you will not be able to make deadlines and is unacceptable to employers.  Plan ahead, figure out where the interview is located and get an early start.

2.  Lack of preparation.  This is the single biggest complaint of interviewers and indicates to them that you may not be ready for the responsibillities of the position.  Make sure you have copies of your resume, have researched the position and the firm, and are dressed appropriately.

3.  Dressing inappropriately or wearing too much perfume/cologne.  Please consult the Career Services Handbook for tips.

4.  The inability to answer multiple questions or failing to answer the question asked.  This is where preparation comes into play–if you have researched and prepared some answers in advance to possible questions, you will not be caught off guard.  If you don’t know the answer, say so, and let them know that you will find out the answer.  With regard to failing to answer the question asked–practice your listening skills and during an interview directly answer the question asked, do not go off on tangents.

5.  Talking too much.  While you are probably nervous, answer the question at hand and then stop unless encouraged by the interviewer to go on.

6.  Lack of eye contact.  Again, everyone understands you are nervous, by you must greet the interviewer with a handshake, a smile, and eye contact.  This eye contact should continue for the duration of the interview.  Practice if you have to.

7.  Not having questions ready to ask the interviewer.  Nothing says lack of interest more than you not having a few well thought out questions ready to ask your interviewer.

On Campus Interviews!

We have several new and exciting OCI opportunities available for you on Symplicity now with application deadlines fast approaching! Many of the positions are PAID spring clerkships with local firms, which will allow you to gain valuable legal experience while building your resume.  We strongly encourage you to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors on Symplicity or by calling us at 680-7744 to review your application materials prior to applying to any OCI. Your appointment should take place at least 48 hours prior to the application deadline date so that you have time to edit your documents before applying. Complete details about each position can be found under the OCI tab in Symplicity.

Strategic Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

Legal Support has published a list of 10 questions you can ask a possible employer at the end of your interview.  There most likely will not be time to make too many inquiries, but you can utilize these to come up with some of your own.  For example:  You could ask–

“How would you describe the individuals who are successful in this position? What qualities or characteristics distinguish those individuals?”  or

“What are the greatest challenges of this position?”  or even

“At this point, do you have any concerns as to whether I would be a suitable fit for this position? If so, I would like to provide you with additional information that I hope would eliminate any doubt in your mind as to whether I would be an appropriate match for this position. I firmly believe that I am a strong fit and could make a valuable contribution to your team.”

To see the list in its entirety, Click here.

Complimentary Webcast on Job Search, Networking & Interviewing

Lexis/Nexis is offering a complimentary career webcast this Thursday November 8th at 3:00pm ET titled “Ask the Experts: Answers to your Questions about Legal Job Search, Networking & Interviewing”. Please see additional information and the registration link below.Law Student Webcast: Attend a live webcast featuring four legal career experts and get your career questions answered. Send in your questions ahead of timeand our panel of legal career experts will answer them during the webcast.Learn how to identify the right legal career path for you and how to prepare for your interviews.The first 500 to attend and complete the email survey at the end of the webcast will receive a complimentary membership in the American Bar Association (ABA) Law Student Division*.  REGISTER NOW

Meet the panelists:

  • Rachel Marx Boufford: currently the Law Editor at, Rachel is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a former litigation associate at Davis, Polk & Wardwell LLP.
  • Sheila Nielsen: a lawyer turned career counselor with 20 years of experience counseling and coaching more than 3,000 attorneys. She runs Nielsen Career Consulting and a number of large firms rely on Ms.Nielsen for outplacement and executive coaching.
  • Brynne Lehner: a legal recruiter with more than 8 years of experience working both the law firm and law school side of recruiting. Before joining Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, she worked in the Career Development Office at Pepperdine University School of Law, and prior to that for Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York.
  • Richard D. Williamson is a partner at 5-member firm Robertson, Johnson, Miller & Williamson, and a graduate of American University’s Washington College of Law. He is a member of the Editorial Board for the Nevada Lawyer magazine, and holds various leadership positions within the American Bar Association. His practice focuses on Real Estate Law and Complex Civil Litigation.

After the webcast Ask the Experts: Answers to your Questions on Legal Job Search, Networking and Interviewing, join the after-party on Facebook for a lively interaction with all of the panelists.


Interviewing Tips

FindLaw Legal Career Center at published a step by step guide “How to Excel in Law Firm Interviews” which may be helpful as you begin or continue your job search.  Some important items to remember:

  1. Be Prepared!     
  2. Understand your goal
  3. Know your strengths
  4. Understand the importance of the screening interview
  5. Show enthusiasm no matter what
  6. Sell, sell sell!
  7. Look your best
  8. Know your audience
  9. Ask the right questions during your interviews
  10. Prepare honest, positive answers to possible interview questions. . .and more.

The authors expanded on each subject at length and the entire article is worth a read.  To read the entire article, click here.

Informational Meetings: Preparing Your Introduction

The way you introduce yourself to your informational meeting targets is incredibly important.  You must present yourself as someone seeking to learn about the local legal community and market, someone with genuine questions about their career path.  Depending on the circumstances, you may be introducing yourself verbally or via email.  To prepare yourself, draft an introductory email, which will force you to think through what you will say.  It is also helpful to have a Career Services Counselor review your draft for suggestions.  Focus on key phrases that reflect your theme, such as “excited to be returning home to practice” or “eager to learn more about the local legal community.”  Some other helpful phrases are “researching the legal market” and “gathering information.”  Tell the practitioner you appreciate the “value of their insight” and that they have been “incredibly helpful.”

Does Making the Grade = Making Partner?

Often, students who lack stellar academic credentials question their ability to succeed in a traditional, competitive law firm environment.  Recent research has shown, however, that success in law firms is not always correlated with your academic pedigree.  As Indiana University Professor Bill Henderson has noted, “in this more competitive environment, [students] need to be personable, collaborative, entrepreneurial, service oriented, and interested in contributing to the collective welfare of the law firm.”  What does this mean for today’s students?  If your academic credentials aren’t dazzling, focus on distinguishing yourself in other ways.  Demonstrate your understanding of the law firm business model, your business development skills, and the intensity of your commitment.  For one-on-one coaching with a career counselor to learn more about the business of law firms and how to distinguish yourself as a candidate, schedule a counseling session with Career Services.

“Law Prof Predicts a ‘New Hierarchy’ of Law Schools,” ABA Journal, November 15, 2010.

Law Firm Spotlight

A local personal injury firm has an immediate opening for a law clerk position for a 2L or 3L.  The selected student will work 10 to 20 hours per week for a minimum of 12 weeks.  Compensation is $12.00 per hour, and the deadline is Monday, March 5th.  To apply, log into Symplicity and click on “OCI” for information about this and other on campus interviews.  Remember to update your status in Symplicity since you will only be able to view those OCI’s applicable to your class year.

Keep It Conversational

For a successful interview, you should be prepared to not merely answer questions fired off by the interviewer, but to have a conversation.  This is more enjoyable not only for you, but for the interviewer, as well.  Moreover, it will provide the interviewer insight into your personality and whether you are a good fit for the firm.