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UCLA Law School's Amy Berenson Mallow, Assistant Dean for Career Services, stated that preparation should take place on several different levels. The first preparatory step is for students to know their resumes. The second step involves learning as much as possible about the employer and interviewers. The third step involves developing a marketing strategy.
Ms. Mallow noted, ''Regardless of what questions the interviewer poses, the major question facing an interviewee is, 'Why should I hire you?' Students must think about what in their background demonstrates what skills and qualities they have to offer and then develop strategies to effectively convey this information.''
After completing these steps, Ms. Mallow stresses the importance of practicing interviewing. Role playing with a career counselor or friend what will take place at the actual interview will help prepare students in advance for the real thing.
Susan Robinson, Associate Dean for Career Services at Stanford Law School, adds a few other ways to prepare. ''A student should know themselves, what they want and what they want to be. They should know the firm (through proper research) and the geographic market.''
Ms. Robinson continued, ''Students should look at a firm's website. Items to look out for would be practice areas, deals, cases, clients, summer programs, special interest areas, etc.''
She cites additional resources for students. ''The NALP directory, which is available online, gives basic information on large firms.''
For callbacks, Ms. Robinson encourages looking at news articles and legal newspapers to get a better sense of what a firm is currently doing.
Another popular resource is surveys. There is the American Lawyer Midlevel Associate Survey, Vault Guide, and a summer associate survey published in L Magazine. Past employees often fill out surveys, and students can talk to each other to gather information.
Important Do's and Don't's:
UCLA's Career Services Office compiled this list of do's: research the employer, pay attention to an employer's hiring criteria, be prepared to discuss your resume, show up for all interviews and take each one seriously, convey a positive attitude, stress your strong points and specific skills, ask informed questions, dress appropriately and project a professional image, and establish a filing system for your materials, i.e., copies of correspondence information about employers, notes on interviews, and follow-up appointments.
The don't's: mispronouncing the employer's name, appearing unenthusiastic or bored, failing to listen to questions or not listening to answers given to questions, interrupting the interviewer or talking at the same time, acting nervous, criticizing a former employer, and lastly, not asking any questions.
Employer vs. Future Employee
Ms. Mallow stated, ''The student interviewee should use the interview process as a time to create a positive impression, demonstrate enthusiasm for the employer, gather additional information about the position, and determine if the employer is a good fit.''
Ms. Robinson noted that ''employers are looking for smart individuals who are excellent communicators who can write, research, and analyze well. They also look for maturity and presence.''
Evaluating an Offer
Ms. Mallow declared that ''comprehensive research should enable the student to know the basics about the firm, including where it is based, the office size, and its major practice specialties.''
She continued, ''Hopefully the student has gathered enough information through the interview process about the firm's general character and stability, as well as advancement opportunities and professional development at the firm. At this point, the student should be able to assess what characteristics the firm has, compared to the environment the student is looking for.''
So many interviews…and no offers
If a student does not get any offers, Ms. Mallow recommends consulting a career counselor. Ms. Robinson agrees, ''Every student should talk to a career counselor early, before interviews. If there is an issue the student is aware of, work on it with a counselor.''
Career centers on campus often provide assistance with the on-campus interview process. UCLA's Office of Career Services has a Q & A Interviewing Tips and ''Mock Interview'' program, as well as seminars featuring local attorneys. Check to see what is available and take advantage of the services offered.
Ms. Mallow sums up four key steps to succeeding at interviews: research prospective employers, only apply to those in which you have a genuine interest, prepare for the interview by knowing the employer, yourself, and your resume, and, lastly, practice, practice, practice.
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