Interviewing for Success

The big day is here. Relax, be yourself, and check out our tips. Below we have a checklist for preparing and interviewing, a collection of commonly asked interview questions, a walk-through for the on-campus interview process, and a primer on informational interviewing, an informal way to network and gather information on different jobs you may be interested in.

The Interview

  1. Preparation

    • Learn what you can about the employer
    • Talk to alumni who have worked or who are currently working for employer.
    • Find out the names and background information of the interviewers.
    • Make an exploratory visit for parking and location of employer.
    • Try on what you are wearing the night before the interview.
    • Good Grooming–maybe its time for a haircut–conservative dress.
    • Make copies of transcripts, resumes, writing samples, and references.
  2. Practice

    • Review your application materials
    • Be prepared to discuss anything on your resume positively.
    • Isolate two characteristics about yourself that you want to get across during the interview. What is it about you that make you a good match for the position?
    • Have an answer for each of the interview questions found in the sample questions.
    • Practice these answers out loud.
  3. First Impressions

    • Maintain eye contact.
    • Good Grooming–watch out for fragrances.
    • Shake hands firmly.
    • Wait to have interviewer direct you to sit.
    • Project a confident positive attitude.
  4. Main Event

    • Answer in a concise and concrete manner. Follow up assertions such as "I am a hard worker." with examples. Be specific.
    • Be aware of body language.
    • Ask at least two questions about the employer at the end of interview.
    • Show your enthusiasm. Be positive.
    • Being nervous is fine.
  5. Post Interview

    • Record the names of all the persons you met with.
    • Write thank you letters !!!

Sample Questions Asked By Employers

In General

  • Tell me about yourself. What else can you tell me?
  • Why haven't you gained any legal experience if you are interested in practicing law?
  • Why are you not participating on law journal? Student organizations? Moot Court?
  • Why are you taking evening classes?
  • What areas of the law are of particular interest to you? Or interest you least?
  • What law school courses interest you the most?
  • What qualities do you possess which lead you to believe you will make a good lawyer?
  • What persuaded you to study law? Why do you want to be a lawyer?
  • What is the most significant item on your resume?
  • Where do you plan to be five years after graduation? Ten years?
  • Why do you want to work for me or for this firm? Why should we hire you?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • What Supreme Court decision during the last year seems to you the most significant?
  • What do you consider to be your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
  • What is your idea of an ideal law firm or organization?
  • Have you decided which area of law you want to practice?
  • What salary or rate of pay are you expecting?

Large and Medium-Sized Firms

  • What in particular about our firm interests you?
  • Are there any other reasons that led you to choose us?
  • What do you think of our firm resume or firm web site?
  • What part of our practice would be of special interest to you?
  • Which of your experiences might help you to fit with our firm?
  • Do you think you have the qualities that would enable you to become a partner?

Small Offices

  • Do you have any ties to this community?
  • What familiarity do you have with the way the small firm operates?
  • Are you committed to work with a small firm and stay with it?
  • Do you know enough about us to believe it would be a satisfactory place for you to work? Why?
  • Do you consider yourself an easy person to get along with? Explain.
  • Do you think you will at first need a lot of supervision and general help?
  • How much responsibility will you be prepared to assume right from the start? Explain.

Government Employers

  • Why are you interested in this government agency?
  • How much do you know about us?
  • Would you be prepared to make a career in government?
  • What experience have you had which you think might equip you for this job?
  • Do you have a career plan?
  • What training have you had in administrative law?

Legal Services and Public Interest Groups

  • How committed are you to working with this population?
  • Do you have a general interest in service to the public?
  • Which of the following interest you: Domestic relations cases, rights of consumers, landlord/tenant problems, claim collections, civil rights, anti-discrimination actions, rights to municipal services, welfare problems, housing?
  • What experiences have you had in any of the above areas?
  • Are you interested in environmental problems? What experience have you had in this area?
  • Would you be prepared to accept employment away from your present residence?
  • How important to you is the matter of compensation?
  • What do you see as the rewards of working in this area of the law?
  • What are your plans for your legal career?

Informational Interviewing

In General

Family contacts, individuals recommended by professors, fraternity or student government members, and former employers can all be excellent resources for informational interviews. These conversations can give you the opportunity to see how several individuals in the same practice area and in the same work setting adapt their positions to suit their personalities. Talking with individuals employed in a field builds on the knowledge you gain in class and through reading. SINCE MOST JOBS ARE UNADVERTISED, NETWORKING IS YOUR ONLY MEANS TO LEARN OF THEM.

Below is a list of sample questions to give you an idea of what areas may be covered in informational interviews. Obviously, the list should be adapted to your own specific situation and needs.

Preparation

  • What courses, skills or experiences are required/recommended for entry into this field?
  • How did you prepare yourself for the work you currently do?

Present Job

  • How do you spend your time during a typical work week?
  • What skills or abilities are essential to succeed in your job?
  • What are the toughest problems you face?
  • What do you find most rewarding about the work itself, apart from external motivators like salary, fringe benefits, etc.?
  • If you were ever to leave your job, what would drive you away from it?

Career Future

  • If things develop as you would like, what direction would your career take?
  • If you decided to leave your position, what different kinds of work would you pursue?
  • Is your present legal area growing? How would you describe or estimate future prospects?

Life Style

  • What obligation does your work place upon you outside of the standard work week?
  • How much flexibility do you have in terms of controlling your schedule, vacation, etc.?

Advice to me

  • Would you give me feedback on the effectiveness of my resume for this sort of position?
  • Based on my resume and the information I have shared with you about my interests and goals, how suited is my background for the work you do?
  • What kind of experiences, paid or volunteer, would you recommend to me?
  • If you were a law student again, what would you do differently?

Hiring Decisions

If you were hiring someone to work with you, what factors would be the most important in your hiring decision and why?

Supply

  • How do people find out about actual job openings in this area? Are they advertised, and if so, where? Is information spread by word-of-mouth, and if so, who spreads the word?
  • Is turnover high? How easy is lateral mobility in this area of law?

Referral to Others

  • Based on our conversation today, can you recommend other people who I should contact?
  • May I use your name when I contact other individuals?