Good preparation is absolutely necessary for a successful interview. The impression you make in the first 30 seconds is critical.
Make a good first impression through your demeanor and build good rapport by:
- Projecting confidence
- Being enthusiastic and energetic
- Using a firm handshake
- Maintaining eye contact while listening attentively and responding to questions being asked
- Avoiding phrases such as "you know," "like" and "um"
- Not exaggerating or contradicting yourself. Never speaking negatively about a former employer
One of the most important aspects of good interview preparation is to learn as much as possible about the employer and the individual with whom you are interviewing.
Good research tools are:
- The employer's web site
- Martindale-HubbellTM listings, NALP Directory of Legal Employers, LexisTM, WestlawTM and other internet search engines.
- The Office of Career Services: printed resources and personal knowledge of the firms and organizations.
- Consult law students, alumni and personal contacts who work or have worked for the potential employer.
In any interview setting, be prepared to discuss the following:
- Your resume, transcript and writing sample(s); have multiple copies of each with you at the interview.
- Your strengths and weaknesses, your career goals, why you decided to attend law school and your major accomplishments.
- Two to three things that are important to you in a job and why you are interested in the specific firm or type of law that the firm practices.
- Courses you have taken in law school, why you liked or disliked them, how those courses led to your interest in the firm, your participation in journals or organizations, and why you are prepared to work at the firm.
- The relevance of your previous work experience or, if your previous work experience is not relative, how /why you've changed careers; what skills are transferable from previous work experience.
Your appearance in an interview is important. It should be conservative, professional and not distracting. Being comfortable and confident in your appearance is of paramount importance.
General guidelines to follow:
- White shirts are preferred for men.
- Skirts are preferred for women, but professional pants suits are acceptable. If wearing a skirt, women should ensure that the skirt is an appropriate length for sitting.
- Make sure that shoes are polished and accessories are kept to a minimum.
- If you have long hair, make sure that it is neat, or pull it back.
Additional Interview Tips:
- Plan to arrive 5 to 10 minutes early for your interview. Arriving more than 10 minutes early can be awkward. Never arrive late to an interview. If you arrive late, have a good excuse and communicate it to your interviewers immediately.
- Do not to interrupt the interviewer when he or she is talking
- Make sure you are thinking about your responses and answering the questions asked.
- Schedule a mock interview with Career Services to identify negative mannerisms of which you may not be aware, to hone your interviewing skills and to build your confidence.