2015 seems to be off to a great start! The legal market is very active right now for attorneys who would like to lateral to another law firm or are considering a move in-house. Accordingly, as many lawyers are in the process of interviewing, I thought this would be a good opportunity to set forth a few helpful interview tips/reminders.
Be Prepared. As with most things in life, preparation is key. Before you interview, be sure to read up on the law firm or company and know who they are and what they do. This includes not only looking at their website but also reading any recent news articles about them. If you are interviewing with a law firm, you should know specifically about your particular practice area and the type of work the firm does in this area and the type of clients they represent. Also, review the law firm and LinkedIn profiles of the people you will be meeting with — use this as a way to find common ground (e.g., if you attended the same college or law school).
Think Through Likely Questions. There will be certain questions that you will most likely be asked, so you should be prepared to answer these questions (or slight variations thereof). If you think through the questions beforehand, you will be more confident and be better able to formulate appropriate and concise answers to those questions during the interview. Here are a few examples of the types of questions that you should be prepared to answer:
1) Tell me about yourself.
2) Why are you looking to leave your current position?
3) Why are you interested in this particular position with XYZ company or law firm?
4) Tell me about your job moves.
You should also be ready to discuss your substantive legal experience and the types of cases or transactions you have worked on, and your level of responsibility on those matters. So be sure to review your resume before the interview and be ready to discuss any of the experience you have set forth on it.
Show Enthusiasm/Be Positive. When a prospective employer does not move forward with a candidate, we often hear the feedback that the candidate just didn’t seem that excited about or interested in our firm/this opportunity. For that reason, you should always go into interviews with a positive attitude and be ready to discuss with enthusiasm WHY you are interested in THIS opportunity. Of course, you walk a fine line and don’t want to overdo it, but being interested, engaged and enthusiastic about a potential opportunity goes a long way in an interview.
Be Your Own Best Advocate! The interview is your opportunity to tell a prospective employer about yourself and your experience and why you would be a particularly good fit for the position. Don’t assume that they have studied and poured over your resume and cover letter — because they probably have not. You need to tell them who you are and the skills that you bring to the table. I find that candidates are often hesitant to “brag” about themselves — but in an interview you need to do just that. Only YOU can best sell yourself and your skills.
Finally, be on time and bring a few extra copies of your resume with you. Good luck, and let me know how it goes!