1. Research the Company and the People With Whom You Will Meet
There is nothing more objectionable to a legal employer than an interviewee with no knowledge of the firm or company. After all, research skills should be one of your strengths.
The Martindale-Hubble Law Directory is a great place to gain knowledge of a particular law firm. Available online and at your local public library or law library, this directory of lawyers is an authoritative resource of information on the worldwide legal profession and provides in-depth information on attorneys and law firms.
The Internet is another great resource for searching law firm and company information and learning about its people, culture, practice areas, office locations and job requirements. Review firm/company websites, press releases, attorney bios and recent firm news to impress your interviewers with your knowledge of the firm.
Your school’s career center is another excellent resource for employer information.
2. Prepare Questions and Responses in Advance
Interviewers expect you to ask questions and may interpret a failure to do as a sign of disinterest. Before the interview, it is wise to prepare a list of open-ended questions about the job. A few good questions are: “What would I be doing in a typical day?” “What are you looking for in a candidate?” “What is the typical career path in this firm?” “When do you expect to make a hiring decision?” An interviewer’s response to these questions can help you tailor your own answer in a way that best suits their needs.
Although you don’t want your response to sound rehearsed, preparing answers to common questions in advance enables you to better convey a well-thought out, articulate response in a high-pressure situation. Be prepared to discuss everything on your resume, including the job duties of your college internship fifteen years ago, if it’s listed.
You may also want to prepare responses to questions about your salary expectations. Research the market, talk to other students and research the firm to get an idea of what the firm is willing to pay, then state your expectations accordingly.
3. Develop a Marketing Pitch
Create a concise presentation that highlights your skills, experience, strengths and accomplishments to employers. Most skilled interviewers will give you the opportunity to make your presentation through open-ended questions such as “Tell me about yourself,” “What relevant experience do you have?,” “What are your three top skills?” and similar questions. Practicing your presentation until it becomes second-nature will give you an edge during the interview.
4. Connect With Your Interviewer
Rather than simply answering the questions asked, engage the interviewer in conversation and look for common points of interest. Do you have a mutual acquaintance? Did you attend the same undergraduate institution as the interviewer? Do you both enjoy the same hobby? Many legal employers interview dozens of candidates within a short time frame. By establishing a personal connection with the interviewer, you can break the ice and help the interviewer recall you from dozens of candidates.
5. Dress Appropriately
In this age of casual dress codes, and anything-goes work atmospheres, relaxed dress is a trend that is infiltrating many career sectors. However, the legal industry remains a conservative field and employers expect interviewees to wear proper attire. A tailored suit in conservative colors such as black, brown or navy is always a winner.
6. Remain Positive
In addition to your skills, accomplishments and experience, employers will be assessing your attitude and how well you relate to others. Never speak negatively of former or current employers, past work environments or former co-workers. Even if you have had negative experiences, always remain positive in discussing your work history and background.
7. Close the Deal
At the end of the interview, briefly reiterate your skills and background in a way that emphasizes how you are the best fit for the position. Following the interview, send a thank you note to everyone with whom you interviewed. This thank-you note is actually a marketing letter that that highlights your skills, emphasizes your desire to work for the firm and demonstrates how you are the perfect fit for the position.