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In the hiring process, law firms are looking for candidates who can contribute to their practice in a real way. How can you "be who they're looking for?"
There's been a lot of ink spilled about OCI, the on-campus interviewing process by which law firms hire summer associates. (You can find several such articles here: Summer Jobs 101, in fact.)
But let's get down to brass tacks. What's the single biggest thing you can do to ensure you get an offer?
Short of going back in time and choosing a higher-ranked school, or studying more for that disastrous Contracts exam, it's this: Look at things from the employer's perspective.
1. It's Not About You - Ultimately, getting a job isn't about you. It's about what you can do for the employer. So, put yourself in the position of a law firm hiring partner. What are you looking for? You want someone who is:
Can you be that person? You better try!
2. Be Who They're Looking For - What does this mean in practice? Obviously you can't change your entire personality for law firm interviews (nor should you). But you can emphasize the most relevant aspects of your personality and background, while downplaying others.
For example, let's take a softball question: How do you like law school? You could answer this question in various ways, all of which would be basically true. For example:
Most of these answers aren't "wrong," but some are better than others.
Saying you hate law school probably isn't the best idea, given that you're interviewing for a law firm job! But effusively saying you love it probably isn't the best idea, either. If I was interviewing you, and you told me that, I'd either think you were being dishonest and telling me what you thought I wanted to hear, or that you were totally clueless and unrealistic about the demands of the profession.
The best answer is one that's grounded in reality, but puts a positive spin on things. And, if you really want to get fancy, you can target the specifics of your answer to the person you're interviewing with. Is this a highly intellectual firm? Talk about liking the intellectual aspects of law school. Are you interviewing with a big-shot rainmaker partner? Mention all the great people you're meeting.
The point is this: Think about what the firm or person you're interviewing with is looking for, and shape your answers to provide that.
3. How Do You Know What to Talk About? - In order to do this, you have to be prepared. Very prepared.
It doesn't matter how smart or accomplished you are - if you make anyone question whether you could be left alone with a client, you're not getting the job.
When in doubt, bite your tongue.
This article is courtesy of the Lexis Hub | LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom