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Author Topic: OCI interview  (Read 2616 times)

asiangirl

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OCI interview
« on: June 14, 2009, 05:26:51 PM »
everybody knows that grades are of paramount importance.

In other professions, it seems to me that once a candidate is shortlisted, grades matter far less, and it's the interview (i.e. his/ her personality and 'fit' gleaned from the interview) that counts.

This is no true for our profession, is it?

what I mean is, a lot of law firms set grades cut-off and those who got shortlisted have all passed the stringent screening. Do grades matter (much) less then??

Jake_MONDATTA

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Re: OCI interview
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2009, 05:33:30 PM »
I work for a firm doing IP stuff and I can say that it's true for us.  That is, once we have a bunch of candidates on the short list they are usually not selected according to their grades.  The only time this happens is when one clearly stands out by, say, having an absolutely perfect academic record.  Even having a perfect academic record, though, isn't really considered to be as important as coming off well in person. 

That said, there is a GPA cutoff to be on any short-list... so the differences in GPA between shortlist candidates are, by definition, not huge.

Jake_MONDATTA

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Re: OCI interview
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2009, 05:53:23 PM »
I would say that you were selected for a reason.  They certainly know about your first semester grades and decided to interview you anyway.  They wouldn't waste their time talking to you if they thought you weren't a viable candidate.  Don't worry too much about this and don't be too apologetic about it.  At the end of the day, there are many reasons why your first semester grades might not reflect your true potential as an attorney.  Try to think about skills you have that aren't reflected in those grades and be ready to talk about them if the topic is brought up during the interview. 

In any event, the best you can do is try to let go of your nervousness and do the best you can.  I know this is way easier said than done. Just remember:  you have a shot.  They know about your grades.  Use the interview to show them all the skills you have that they don't see on paper.  Some of these skills are at least as important, in the business world, as those that are visible on paper.

Also, don't get the idea that any one interview is make-or-brake in terms of you career.  You will get other interviews.  Each interview is practice.  If you get hired from your first interview, great.  If not, you'll be better prepared for the next one.

Good luck. 

TheCause

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Re: OCI interview
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2010, 03:49:44 PM »
This may be a bit off topic, but I think it's important to remember that many law firms come to OCI days with a certain amount of time (like 5 hours).  Depending on how they break up their time, they may have spots for 15-30 interviews.  Maybe some firms interview for 8 hours and pack in even more. 

Those firms probably have a "short list" with the people who meet their grade criteria and then a bunch of other applicants that I would call a "wild card pool."
They figure they have to be on campus anyway, so why not keep their eyes peeled for that diamond in the rough that just seems to connect with them.  I have one friend who was good enough in interviews to overcome his average grades, but many people aren't so talented.  I know for a fact that I've been in many interviews where I didn't really have a chance to begin with.  I talked to a hiring partner who explained that OCI was basically a process where they would talk to all the people with amazing resumes and make sure those people weren't horrible in person, and then they would blow through interviews with the borderline applicants and issue a call-back interview if they saw something special.
I believe grades matter much less once you get to a second interview, especially if it is very long. (even 30+ minutes or maybe up to a half-day interview)

nealric

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Re: OCI interview
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2010, 06:01:08 PM »
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They certainly know about your first semester grades and decided to interview you anyway.  They wouldn't waste their time talking to you if they thought you weren't a viable candidate.

Not all OCI-interviews are pre-screened. If you bid on Cravath with a 2.8 from a non-pre screen school, you are guaranteed wasting your and everyone else's time.

Basically, you have to meet their hiring criteria (whatever that may be). After that, it usually comes down to personality and soft factors. However, I have heard from family friends who have done OCI interviewing that if they are trying to cut down a too-large pool, they may cut on the basis of GPA even among people who meet the basic criteria. By contrast, if they have not found anybody who meets their criteria at the school, they might give one person a callback.
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Thane Messinger

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Re: OCI interview
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2010, 03:18:08 PM »
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They certainly know about your first semester grades and decided to interview you anyway.  They wouldn't waste their time talking to you if they thought you weren't a viable candidate.

Not all OCI-interviews are pre-screened. If you bid on Cravath with a 2.8 from a non-pre screen school, you are guaranteed wasting your and everyone else's time.

Basically, you have to meet their hiring criteria (whatever that may be). After that, it usually comes down to personality and soft factors. However, I have heard from family friends who have done OCI interviewing that if they are trying to cut down a too-large pool, they may cut on the basis of GPA even among people who meet the basic criteria. By contrast, if they have not found anybody who meets their criteria at the school, they might give one person a callback.


Quite right.  In most cases (i.e., where you are screened), once you're in the interview then all that goes away.  The process starts anew.  Honestly, despite how important it is to you, unless it's a glaring issue interviewers might not even realize your specific grades or class rank.  Believe it or not, given the realities of these serial interviews, your interviewers are lucky to remember one-third of the students they've just met.  Much of the call back is in a gut reaction to your general ease and likeability.  No one will be put off by a *little* nervousness, but they want to see that you can talk your way through a reasonable conversation, and that you would be reasonably pleasant to be around, day in and day out.

They assume you're smart.  This is where many law students make their mistake: they try to impress, which has the effect of being overbearing.  Remember, you're talking with people who are just as smart as you, so there's no bonus here.  (In fact, if you're too smart that can be its own problem.)  Your grades are important, but once you're in the room, let that go.  Connect with the inteviewers on a personal level, and let your qualities shine through in a more subtle way, such as in the enthusiasm with which you recount your experiences, learning, interests, and so on.

After the interview, that's when they'll re-look at the GPA to, at the margins, determine who gets the invite.  Usually, they'll note a handful (or just one or two) who were especially good conversationalists, pleasant, etc., and they'll have another half-dozen who are major "NOs".  Those are the easy ones, and they might be the only ones.  They'll invite the top handful, maybe pick one or two from the middle, and reject everyone else.

There's a description of this process from a big-firm insider at, creatively enough, The Insider's Guide to Getting a Big Firm Job.

Hope this helps,

Thane.