Oftentimes, the challenge of landing the job hinges on a candidate’s ability to convey that they are so much more than what they may seem to be on paper (“What my title doesn’t capture is…” or “What my law school ranking does not show is that I can…”).
We work hard to make sure that what you convey on paper does who you are as a professional justice.
Any hiring partner, legal recruiter, or human resources professional in the field, however, will have a couple of anecdotes where a promising candidate on paper—who had everything going for him or her—frankly, blew it.
Don’t dump all of that work on paper away because of an avoidable error!
Do your homework.
One of the most common complaints is a candidate who was clearly lacking in preparation. What a firm does is readily discoverable (at your fingertips—literally). An indication that a candidate took the time to learn about what the firm is involved in on a regular basis is advantageous. Otherwise, candidates spend their precious interview time trying to learn about the firm and lose an opportunity to have a conversation about their candidacy. The same applies when a candidate has to ask about what the interviewer does—if a candidate is prepared and already knows, then the candidate can jump into the next level of conversation. Check out some tips on how to research potential law firms in an old post, here.
A potential employer expects a candidate to be invested in the success of their work from the very first day. Your research should be thorough. Go beyond the firm bios. Have an idea of the background of the people you will be meeting with, and pay attention to what might interest the interviewer, and what might offend the interviewer. And research yourself while you are at it (especially if you know you are not familiar with your own resume or narrative).
Dress for success.
Short of showing up in a full tuxedo, you cannot overdress—but you can certainly underdress. There is a trending lack of formality when it comes to interviewing and hiring despite the one thing that career service advisors across all law schools consistently advise: dress professionally. The legal field is conservative, so it is always better to err on the side of professionalism and formality.
Nothing to “lol” about.
It’s great to establish great rapport with your interviewer. You want to follow through with that momentum to maximize that positivity.
Sending a thank-you note after an interview sounds old fashioned and common—yet only about 43% of job seekers do it. When it comes to a professional “thank you,” however, the old-school approach works best. It may be tempting to shoot a text message or send a very brief email that is way too personal and not at all professional.
Taking some time to write a professional email or hand-written note goes a long way. Even though not all employers expect to receive one, a well written follow up gives a candidate the chance to reiterate why they are the right person for the job (something particularly helpful when recruiters are inundated with resumes from other candidates). It is a subtle indicator of strong soft skills.