The key to a successful interview is preparation. There are two distinct levels to the process of preparing for an interview: (1) conducting research on the prospective employer and (2) conducting research on you. It is only when you have researched the employer and its practice, and identified your own goals, interests, and abilities, that you are fully prepared for the interview.
Know yourself and your resume. Be prepared to discuss anything on your resume. Know your strengths and decide how to handle your “weaknesses”. Always carry a copy of your resume, transcript and references to the interview.
Do your research. Know as much as possible about the employer and with whom you are interviewing. Employers consistently rank lack of knowledge of the organization as one of the primary reasons for not extending an offer to a candidate.
Develop a strategy. The underlying question in every recruiter’s mind is, “Why should we hire this person?” Just as you tailor a resume or cover letter to a specific employer, it is important to differentiate each interview and focus on the fit between your background and that employer. Consider what skills the organization is seeking, what types of clients they have and the practice area(s) for which they are hiring. Be ready to discuss how your experience relates to these areas.
Develop your questions. Prepare a list of questions relevant to the employer, and if possible, to the interviewer. Be careful not to ask questions that can be found on their website or other easily accessible source.
Present yourself in a confident, enthusiastic and engaged manner. Make good eye contact and play an active role in the conversation. Listen attentively and show enthusiasm for the employer and for the individual with whom you are interviewing.
- Anticipate open ended questions, such as, “What can you tell me about yourself?” and frame your answer in relation to the employer and law school. Also anticipate awkward questions, such as, “Why did your GPA drop so drastically?” or “Why aren’t you on law journal?” The answers to these questions are less important than how thoughtful and logical is your response.
- Practice is the most effective method to improve your interviewing skills. If you would like to have the CSO set up a mock interview, please let us know.
Do your homework.
Gather as much information about the employer and the position as possible before the interview. Your questions and responses should be based on thorough research and should stem from your interests in the employer.
Dress Appropriately and Be On Time
How to Handle Discriminatory Questions
Questions regarding your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, age, sexual orientation or being a disabled veteran that do not relate to a bona fide occupation qualification necessary to perform a job are discriminatory and, therefore, not permissible. Knowledge of this type of information about a candidate may lead to discriminatory hiring practices – either intentional or unintentional – and you are not required to divulge this information, unless you choose to.
If you feel an interview has been conducted improperly, you are encouraged to report the specifics to the Director of the Career Services Office.