OCI Week: Five Tips for Acing the Law Firm Interview
If you are fortunate enough to have on-campus interviews lined up, then these interviews could be some of the most important, as they will establish the foundation of your legal career. If you're not participating in OCI, these tips will still help you with any law firm interview.
According to Forbes, most interviews are decided in the first 10 seconds, so first impressions are immensely important. First, make sure you look the part (our "what to wear to OCI guide" should help). Next, you probably know this already, but let's go over the basics: no gum chewing, practice your hand shake and look people in the eye.
Assuming you made it past the first 10 seconds, here's how to ace the rest of your interview.
1. Your Resume
Always bring a few copies of resume to your interview. Always. This is a test -- not of the emergency broadcast system -- but of your preparedness. Your interviewer will have a copy of your resume, they just ant to see how prepared you are. Bring it. Know everything on it.
2. Ask Questions
Bring a list of questions with you to the interview; during the course of the interview jot questions down as they come to mind. There's always a point in the interview when you will be asked if you have questions and you better have something. No questions = no job offer.
3. Make Them Feel Special
Just as you would tailor each cover letter to the particular firm you are applying to (you are doing that right?), be ready to talk about why you want to work at that particular firm. Good answers include specific practice areas or wanting to work with a star attorney. Most ad answers include the pay check and perks.
4. Oldies but Goodies
Be ready to answer interview standby questions like: What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? There's a reason people ask these questions --
because they can't think of anything else to ask because the way you answer them tells a lot about you. Know your answers to these questions because you will definitely be asked during the course of your interviews.
5. Keep It Positive
Everything you say in the interview should be positive -- no negativity here, period. No matter how terrible a previous job was, don't complain about your boss in the interview. Give a positive spin to your negative experience. And, when they ask you what your weakness is, be sure that your weakness is something that you can turn around into a positive (i.e., "I'm a perfectionist to a fault, sometimes it may slow my work down a little because I make sure all the details are accurate").
These tips will help you get through some of your most important interviews. You will not ace all of your interviews, but don't get discouraged. Look at each interview as practice; you'll definitely get better at it with each one.