A lot of people find job interviews to be unnerving. Interviews are most often spontaneous, there is a lot of uncertainty involved and is highly subjective. The average interviewee never quite knows what is considered to be a “right answer”.
Law interviews are intended to be such. It is a way determining if a candidate’s personality is a good fit, rather than their qualifications. It is, however, far from a game of chance as it may seem. There are a lot of things that the interviewee can control in order to get a favorable result.
What exactly are the things that a law interviewee should be mindful of? Personal Injury law firm Tenge Law asked 10 experts from known law universities around the country to weigh in on the topic of interviewing for a law firm. Here is a summary of some of their responses:
- Take control of the interview – Laura E. Yearout, JD of Emory Law encourages the interviewee to shake off the feeling of powerlessness by recognizing that the interview is about them. They need to make sure to convey all relevant information such as skills, experiences, and accomplishments and not to wait until they’re specifically asked.
- Be prepared, do thorough research – Alisa N. Benedict O’Brien, Esq. of The University of Akron School of Law says that the biggest mistake a candidate can make is to not do thorough research on the particular law firm. The interviewee should be prepared with well-thought out questions when topics such as the firm’s mission, practice areas, attorneys and their backgrounds, recent accomplishments are brought up.
- Don’t appear disorganized and directionless – Professor/Director George W. Kuney of The University of Tennessee College of Law thinks that most employers want someone with a sense of direction, a goal, and at least a loose plan to achieve that goal, aside from being flexible and having the willingness to adopt another direction/goal, or a new plan to achieve that goal.
- Don’t appear unprepared – Director Jennifer Zwagerman of Drake university agrees that doing prior research and having a sort of basic knowledge about the practice areas or scope of works is key. One should also appear excited, interested and prepared.
- Downplay your weak points, sell your strengths – Aside from researching and familiarizing oneself with the interviewer’s firm, the candidate should also bring up any writing samples and publications that he might have done to highlight his strengths, and not dwell on any weaknesses whenever possible.
- Do a mock interview – Dorian Varga, MIT of the University of Washington thinks it is essential for any interviewee to conduct a mock interview beforehand with individuals who can provide valuable feedback, like an alumni or mentor.
- Have the requisite skills – Kevin Mauseth, Esq. of Southern California Institute of Law says that a candidate must make sure to have interned/clerked during law school to get the requisite skills needed when working for a law firm.
- Appear sincere – Lori Freeman, JD of the School of Law at the University of Montana thinks that by knowing a good deal about the firm, a candidate will be able to convey an appearance of sincerity.
- Be interested in the law firm’s area of expertise – Eric F. Walker, Assistant Dean for Career Services at UALR School of Law says that the applicant should be genuinely interested in the particular area of practice of the law firm he is apply to, in order for both parties to be happy in the long run.
- Be the best version of yourself – Professor Robin K. Craig of the University of Utah thinks every prospective candidate should always strive to be the best version of himself.