Once in a while, especially if your lawyer interviewer is a litigator or trial attorney, you may find yourself the focus of a "negative" or "adversary" interview. This is one in which all of the interviewer's questions appear to be designed to put you down or make you reveal unflattering or negative information about yourself, and it can be a truly terrifying experience. Even in a normal job interview, you may encounter one or two questions in which the interviewer appears to be less than impressed with something in your background or experience. If you should ever be subject to such an interview, or if such a question should arise, keep in mind that things are not usually as they seem. In most cases the interviewer doesn't really think you are a jerk, and isn't prejudiced against you before you walk into the room. Otherwise, why would he be taking the time to talk to you (remember that your mental attitude should be that you already have the job before you walk in the door).
In situations where the tone of the entire interview is negative, the interviewer's purpose is not to humiliate you (although if you are not careful he may well succeed; litigators are very good at cross examining people and tearing apart their prepared stories), but rather to see if you are tough enough to survive in what he believes is a rough practice, a difficult environment or an aggressive culture. In the situation where the overall tone of the interview is positive but the interviewer asks one or two negative questions, what is usually happening is that the interviewer has surfaced one or two things on your resume that he thinks he will have trouble selling to his partners or colleagues, and wants you to tell him what he should tell these people when they express their concern about these particular things.
Whatever you do in this situation, there are three important rules to keep in mind.
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Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.
Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.
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