Law School Discussion

Interview tips?

Interview tips?
« on: August 07, 2009, 09:10:49 AM »

I have eight first interviews next week and I have no idea what to expect. It's for a position as a summer associate at the end of 2L year. These are large firms and I would imagine that they're looking for clerks to work in general litigation. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks.

John Saxon

Re: Interview tips?
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2009, 12:36:31 PM »
I'll no doubt get into trouble, but actually I've gotten quite good at that over the years.

There's a new book out on this. 

So we've heard...stop shilling your damn book.
--post edited by EC


Re: Interview tips?
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2009, 11:41:53 AM »
I went through the interview process as a student about 9 years ago, and have interviewed many students since then from the other side of the table.  Law firm interviews are generally more like conversations than grilling sessions.  You are not likely to be asked substantive legal questions and you probably are not going to get any wacky hypothetical questions. 
The best advice I can give is to think about your personal story.  I know that sounds kind of hokey, but I promise it will be helpful.  So before the interviews think about questions like Why did you go to law school?  How did end up at the school you chose?  What kind of student are you?  Are you someone that just gets it, or do you have to work harder than others to keep up?  Is there something that you’ve had to overcome to get where you are?  Why did you choose the classes you chose?  What motivates you to get up and go to class?  What is important to you?  Challenging, interesting work?  A healthy work / life balance?  Be honest with yourself.  Think about real examples in your life that will help to explain your answers.  You may or may not get these specific questions, but if you know your story, you will be able to work in bits and pieces no matter what the questions are.  In my opinion, interviews are really about getting to know who you are, not how smart you are (that’s what your resume is for).           

Be ready for the question: “So what can we tell you about the firm?”  I can almost guarantee it will be asked, and, in my opinion, if the interviewer is not very good they will ask this question about 5 minutes into the interview.  Be prepared with at least 5 or so questions in response just in case.  I personally would avoid asking questions about the current state of the economy in the on-campus interview (I do think you want to get a sense of the firm’s financial health, but I’d try to do that with research online or get at those questions in a callback interview).  Try to focus on the positive.  Look on the firm’s website to see if there are any things that the firm appears to be particularly proud of – a big commitment to pro bono, an extensive training course for new associates – and ask about those things.  Do a quick check of the bios of your interviewers to see if you have any common interests or connections.  And you can always ask questions about the summer program: What will I be doing, Will I have a mentor, etc. 

Be ready to say why you are interested in the city that the firm is in, particularly if your resume doesn’t show a connection to that city.  But be honest.  If you don't know much about the city, ask them if they could tell you why they were drawn to work there.

Know your resume.  You will be surprised how many times you’ll get the question, “so I see you did so and so, tell me a little bit about that.”  Have some quick story or anecdote for every item on your resume that shows why that thing was important enough to make it on your resume. 

Avoid questions like about starting salary at your firm or hours worked.  While I think those are important questions, there are better ways to find these things out.  In the interview they can make you seem greedy or lazy.

Hope this is helpful.  Good luck!

Re: Interview tips?
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2009, 12:50:08 PM »
Thanks a lot for the tips!


Re: Interview tips?
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2009, 01:05:50 PM »
Sure thing.  Would love to hear how they go and if anything unexpected came up.

Re: Interview tips?
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2009, 12:22:41 PM »
OK. I have the mock interview scheduled, and I just had a ninth interview added. I'll post back. Thanks.


Re: Interview tips?
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2009, 06:26:06 PM »
I've had some bad interviews, particularly during OCI.

During one OCI interview the interviewer asked me if I had any questions about the firm.

"Yes." I said.  "How many people are in it?"

The interviewer said "Let me see," and pulled out the firm brochure that he had given me when I walked in. He then began to count the pictures out loud.  "One, two, three..." and so on until he had counted them all.

It was a big firm.

I just sat there.

I still don't know why I asked that.  I really don't.

Needless to say I wasn't hired.

And I suspect, though I don't know for sure, that this may have had an impact with a couple of other firms I interviewed with later in OCI.  During one particularly excruciating interview, I walked in, sat down, and the two interviewers ignored me.  Completely.  They may have said hello, I can't remember, but if they did that was all they said.  They sat there talking to each other for fifteen or twenty minutes, and when it was time to for the next student to come in they looked up and told me I could go.

To this day I regret not getting up and walking out.  I really do.

That was a bad interview.

And everyone else reported that they were very nice, and everything went well.  So I don't know...

(And for the record, it's not like I had a bad resume.  I graduated cum laude and was on Law Review.  I can be a real ass, though.)


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Re: Interview tips?
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2009, 08:16:06 PM »
wtf lol. 

Re: Interview tips?
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2009, 10:38:10 AM »
Strange story about the two lawyers who ignored the applicant.Reminds me of something that happened to me many years ago.
Years ago I was treated like trash at an interview by some uptight associate at a Big Law firm in the midwest. He was patronizing, elitist and dismissive of my background. A few months later I was working for an important  Gov't agency where I had quite a bit of power and authority. In fact, soon after I started I learned that I was in charge of an enormous case against a huge company represented by - you guessed it-that same Big Law Firm. When a meeting was set up between counsel, guess who walks into my office? Yup, the D Bag himself. Needless to say-I was highly motivated to represent my client vigorously!

Morale of the story is that life is too short to make unnecessary enemies.

Re: Interview tips?
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2009, 07:43:36 PM »
hahahah if I ever make it to the other side of the table I am ABSOLUTELY going to count the lawyers from a brochure if ever asked that.  Comedy platinum.