Landing the right legal job—whether you are a seasoned attorney or a law student—takes planning and preparation. The legal recruitment process varies by law firm, company, and hiring needs. Once you get through the application process and are notified that you will be interviewing, you already have a lot going in your favor: they want to get to know you better, which means they consider you to be qualified; the ball is also now in your court, and the opportunity is yours to lose.Landing the right legal job—whether you are a seasoned attorney or a law student—takes planning and preparation. The legal recruitment process varies by law firm, company, and hiring needs. Once you get through the application process and are notified that you will be interviewing, you already have a lot going in your favor: they want to get to know you better, which means they consider you to be qualified; the ball is also now in your court, and the opportunity is yours to lose.
So now what do you do to land your dream law career?
We often tell ourselves and each other to prepare for interviews—precisely because we understand that at that stage of the game, the opportunity is ours to lose—but we do not often hear about how to prepare for interviews. Below, I share some practical, concrete tips on what you can do to prepare after you have done your preliminary research.
1. Learn about your interviewers.
You have the power of the internet at your fingertips: go ahead and learn about your interviewers. Find out who they are, what groups they are associated with, or whether they made the news (for better or for worse). If you do not know who will be interviewing you, feel free to ask—and if that does not yield any names, that does not mean you are excused! Learn as much as you can about the firm, team, or company.
2. Reread the job description.
Oftentimes, the job description that is posted and shared is different from the job that actually needs to be done or the role that needs to be filled. It might not be complete, up to date, or descriptive. There is nothing wrong with asking the person scheduling the interview if they can send you the full job description. Consider reaching out to a contact or with your recruiter to discuss any internal information that might shed some light on what is expected of you.
As you learn about what is required and expected, develop an answer for how you meet that specific requirement. Map out concise anecdotes that spotlight your actions and results. Pay attention to whether there is theme in your narrative, or whether there is an opportunity to draw attention to your strengths.
3. Prepare smart questions.
You will be presented with the opportunity to ask questions to your interviewers—and great questions do not always present themselves during your discussion. Prepare questions that will help you get a sense of the employer’s expectations and internal functions. Learn more about your interviewer, and see what insights they can share. Remember that the best interviews are conversations, so it is alright to converse and ask questions as they come up during the interview.
4. Find out the format of the interview.
If the format of your interview has not been made obvious to you, remember to ask. You want to be prepared—and perhaps more importantly, do not want to be caught off-guard. Is this one-on-one, a group interview, over video, or a meeting over lunch?
Of course, pay attention to the time, date, and details like parking, traffic, which floor, which door, and who you have to call once you arrive. Arriving on time and prepared puts you (and your interviewers) into the mindset that you belong there. And just in case—bring some copies of your resume or other materials that have been or might be requested.
5. Let them know who you are and why they should hire you in your opening statement.
There might be different ways of asking “tell me about yourself” — but you can count on this needing to be answered no matter how your interviewer phrases it. You need to prepare an answer that achieves the following:
- First, it gives them a sense of who you are;
- Second, it answers the question of why they should hire you;
- Third, you answer the question as if you just came up with the answer; and
- Finally, you answer the question concisely and succinctly (within ninety seconds).