3 Tips for Mastering the In-House Interview

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on July 27, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In-house jobs are in demand. There is rarely a shortage of candidates for an in-house position. That means that prospective corporate counsel will need to truly stand out in order to land a position in-house.

If you manage to get an interview for an in-house position, don't think that your skills, talent, and experience alone will be enough to carry you through. In-house interviews require a bit more. Here are three tips to help you master yours:

Dominate the Boilerplate

Unfortunately, in-house interviews often use the same standard questions as every other interview. Get ready to "tell us a little bit about yourself," and answer "why are you interested in this position?" You'll also want to have an answer for why you're looking to change positions and what your most significant accomplishments and challenges have been.

Don't blow off these questions, though. Avoid reciting your resume when saying a bit about yourself -- give a full, engaging pitch. Explain your desire to make a career move by inspiring your interviewers with your passion. Having a strong, unique answer to standard questions can help you stand out.

Know Why You're Fit for In-House

Although some companies hire in-house lawyers straight from law school, most will be taking attorneys who have experience practicing in firms. The skills that make you a killer attorney in the BigLaw tax practice aren't necessarily the same that will be needed in-house. In-house lawyers tend to be more generalists. They're required to go with their gut more often, to respond quickly, and to balance the sometimes competing interests within a company. Get ready to make the case for your ability to do just that.

Research the Industry and the Company

That nature of the company you're interviewing with, and its industry, will vastly shape your experience working in-house. Want to join the legal department of an energy company with sites around the world? You'll need to know about international contracting, natural resource development, project financing and the like. Want to work in-house at a tech start up? You'll want to be conversant in IP, licensing agreements, and negotiations.

Make sure you know the industry and the company inside and out. This won't just help you ace the interview, but it can assist you in deciding whether it's even the type of corporate in-house work you want to be doing in the first place.

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