On Wednesday evening, July 31, three recent Cleveland-Marshall graduates and one law firm recruiting manager came to the College of Law to share their tips and advice for students preparing for fall on-campus interviews. If you were unable to attend, or were there and want a refresher, this post will summarize some of the key points shared.
Interview Basics – The simple things that really make a difference
- Do not be late
- Turn off your phone and keep it in your bag or pocket
- Have a firm handshake and make good eye contact
- Dress professionally and conservatively – the goal should be to be “unmemorable in a positive way” when it comes to your attire
- Ask questions! Be interested!
- Always send a thank you note! Can be handwritten or typed, but don’t rush to send it. The threshold for errors in typed notes is much lower than for handwritten, so take extra care with those.
- Remember that OCI is a marathon, not a sprint. It is exhausting and you will get tired of talking about yourself. Keep the end goal in mind – the job. Put in the work, get rest, keep yourself motivated.
What do you wish you’d known before going into your on-campus interview experience?
- In selecting you for an interview, the firm has already decided you meet the minimum qualifications as regards grades and such, so the interview is really about personality. Read your interviewer and find a way to click with her.
- Prepare really well, have questions prepared, but aim for each interview to become a casual conversation – those are often the best interviews.
- Know your resume cold – be able to talk about absolutely anything on it.
- Remember that the interviewers are people, too, and they don’t typically interview every day. If the conversation is awkward for you, it’s probably awkward for them, too, so aim for being relaxed and confident.
- The more prepared you are, the easier it is to be relaxed in the interview.
How do you suggest that students prepare?
- Find a Cleveland-Marshall grad at the places you’re interviewing and talk to them – they’ll make the time for you and share their experiences and insight. You can typically ask them the kinds of questions you might not want to ask in the interview, and they can give you the information that can help you distinguish among the firms and make yourself stand out. And you might end up with an advocate on the inside.
- Do your research – and include social media. Learning what you can (without becoming a total cyber-stalker) about your interviewer’s hobbies and interests can help you relate to the interviewer, and that helps to demonstrate that you would be a good person to work long hours with. It doesn’t have to be a lot; find just one way to connect with each interviewer.
- When researching on firm websites, also look at their press releases, news, LinkedIn, etc. to see what they’re talking about and what they’re putting out into the marketplace. They will help you get a broader scope of what the firm is doing and what matters to them.
- Practice talking about everything that’s on your resume – with a friend, family member, or your reflection in the mirror – get yourself comfortable talking about the things on your resume.
- It gets noted in the feedback is a candidate doesn’t ask any questions of the interviewer, so always ask questions. Sometimes the best questions are those that ask the interviewer about themselves. A couple examples might be: What do you like best about your work? or How do you staff your cases?
What are your tips for developing a strong “sales pitch” or “tell me about yourself” response?
- It’s key to have this developed, not only for the interview, but also for meeting other attorneys throughout the interview process as well as in your networking efforts.
- Make it personal – think about your motivations for going to law school and draw from those to help craft your pitch.
- Have it well-prepared but be sure you tailor it to each employer
- Practice it with somebody until you are completely comfortable with it
What about preparing for callback interviews?
- It’s okay to ask the same questions of multiple attorneys – you might get different answers, which can help you decide on your favorite firms.
- Be prepared for your interview line-up to change at the last minute – go with the flow and don’t let it stress you out. These substitute interviewers can often be a great opportunity to ask lots of questions and have a general conversation.
- Try to learn about how the interviews are structured at each firm – are they one-on-one, panel, etc?
- Keep your energy up – it’s exhausting, but the enthusiasm matters. It may be your sixth interviewer of the day, but it’s their first time meeting you.
- Meals are still part of the interview! Don’t ever forget that.
- Switch on interview mode as soon as you park your car/enter the door to the building and stay in interview mode until you are home – you never know who you might be passing in the hallway, who is in the elevator with you, or parked next to you in the garage, etc.
If you have any questions as you prepare for interviews this fall, please be in touch with Heather or Sarah in the Office of Career Strategy & Employment. We are here to help make the process easier!