Acing Your Law Firm Interview
Becoming a lawyer seems to be a never-ending process where one step in the journey is immediately replaced with another that must be taken before the journey is complete.
Even after you’ve completed all of your educational requirements, there’s still one major obstacle left: getting the job. This may be the most difficult obstacle to overcome.
One reason for this is because the job market for recent law graduates right now isn’t very good. According to the NALP, only 87% of 2010 law school graduates have found employment after graduating. This is the lowest rate since the mid-1990s. Making matters worse, many who are employed aren’t getting paid as well as they believed they would be when choosing the profession.
Because the job market is so tight, recent graduates entering the job market must set themselves apart from their competition if they want to get the job. One way to do this is by interviewing well.
To interview well and make an impression, it is important that you follow some key steps when given the opportunity to interview for a job. Two of the most obvious steps are to dress professionally and make sure you arrive on time for the interview.
Here are some other steps that aren’t so obvious, but are just as important.
1.Do Your Research
If you really want to make an impression on a potential employer, you must do research into the firm before interviewing.
Because of the Internet, conducting this research is easier today than ever before thanks to websites such as Glassdoor.com, LinkedIn.com, and even the firm’s own website which should provide you quite a bit of background information on partners and staff already employed. Here’s a quick guide of what 2018 has in store for the industry from IDEX.
2. Understand Your Role
Whether the position for which you are interviewing is for an associates position or just an internship to get your foot in the door, make sure you are aware of what the expectations are for the position. This may mean you have to really dig down into the job description and analyze it carefully to understand fully what the firm’s expectations are for the job. If you take this extra step before interviewing, you will give yourself an advantage over your competition who may not make the same effort.
3. Be an Expert on You
Your resume may have gotten your foot in the door, but getting past this first step is where the challenge starts. Verifying the information contained in your resume and making sure you know what you’re talking about as far as the legal profession goes will take up about 20% of the interview. The rest of the time will be used to determine if you are the kind of person who will fit in with the culture already in place. Basically, they’re trying to determine if you’re going to be a problem to work with day in and day out.
You will be expected to answer the typical interview questions asked by most law firms, and you must have a few “interview stories” prepared as well. These stories are basically longer answers to questions typically asked during interviews to see how you have handled problems or time sensitive projects in the past.
The interviewer will most likely be looking for evidence of skills in areas such as time management, negotiating prowess, and to see how you respond to pressure.
Many interviewees waste this opportunity to stand out from the competition because they are unable to articulate a well thought out and compelling answer..aka story…. to these questions.
Make sure you have 3 to 4 stories prepared in advance. If you’ve done your research into the job description as instructed earlier, coming up with these stories should be easy.
4. Preparing for Interview Questions
If you can’t answer or refuse to answer a question asked during the interview, chances are you’re not getting the job.
Therefore, it is very important that you spend time researching questions that are commonly asked during law firm interviews, and practice how you will answer them if asked. Some of the questions you can expect to be asked during the interview can be found below. If you can give well thought out and articulate responses to these questions, you increase your chances of getting the job.
Tell me some things about yourself.
What made you want to go to law school?
Why did you pick the law school you attended?
Are your abilities accurately reflected by your GPA? Why or why not?
Do you think you’re a good lawyer? If so, why?
What can you tell us about our firm?
What area of the law is most interesting to you?
Tell me a little bit about a major accomplishment of yours.
Tell me about your long-term career goals.
What do you find most interesting about the legal system?
What do you believe are your biggest weaknesses?
Tell me how your experience and your education has prepared you to practice law.
Describe how you handled a professional failure and what were the results.
Why should we pick you over one of our other candidates?
Do you have any questions, and if so, what are they?
5. Be Prepared to Ask Questions Always
When the interviewer asks if you have any questions, it is very important that you are prepared to ask them. By asking questions, it shows that you have a true interest in the firm you seek employment with, and it shows you were listening to your interviewer during the interview. For some question examples, check out our Top 12 Best Questions to Ask article that covers this subject.
6. Don’t Forget to Say Thanks
While it may seem like a minor and unnecessary step, sending a thank you note is an important part of the interview process, and getting it right is key. To help in this aspect of the interview process, we’ve put together an article titled Job Interview Thank You Notes 101 that you should check out.
Stellar credentials and a solid resume are only part of the process when it comes to getting a good job at a law firm. It’s the face-to-face interaction that occurs during the interview process where you will really have the opportunity to make your case, so it is very important that you are as prepared as possible.