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How to Get Hired: The Art of Being Interviewed

published February 26, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 83 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)
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The word 'interview' stems from the French word entre-voir, which means to ''see each other." If we take that meaning one step further, we see in a current English dictionary that the word interview literally means "to see each other mutually." In other words, the scope and purpose of the interview is to find out if the job candidate and potential employer are "right" for each other. On both sides, it's a risk. So, basically, the interviewing process enables both parties to find out about each other, to "see" each other. It's important to understand this basic point because it emphasizes how and why an applicant should prepare thoroughly for this final step of the job search.
How to Get Hired: The Art of Being Interviewed

Of all the job search stages, the interview is the single most important step: its goal is the final selling job you must do. And you must learn to do it well. Part of the problem, however, is that many people feel that they have no idea of what they will be asked, and they don't feel that they can do any preparation.

This article only dispels that myth; it shows you the steps to take in preparation for a successful interview!

First of all, it is important to recognize that the interview is in anxiety-producing, stress-filled situation. Of course it is. You have put in long hours, hard work, and a great deal of money preparing for the big job interview. And who likes to be rejected?

You must also remember that the interview is often an irrational, subjective process. A partial reason for this is that people don't realize that although they may seem competent and qualified on paper (the resume and the cover letter), in person they may come across in quite a different way. After all, it's the person who gets hired. And that is what this article is all about: showing you how to present yourself, or "sell" yourself, if you will, as the best person for the job.

That leads us to the basic negotiation going on in the interview. The question is, from the interviewer, "Why should I hire you?" And the answer from the interviewee must be, "Because I am the best person for the job."

If you keep this basic question in mind, then all of your answers to questions during the interview will be geared to support your contention that you are the best person for the job.

Keeping that basic point in mind, let's now examine the steps you can take in developing successful interviewing strategies.

Let's reiterate what we've already said because it bears repeating. For most people, a great part of the fear of being interviewed comes from the fear of the unknown-what is going to happen. And the key to success in interviewing for jobs is the same key you have used for every previous part of your job campaign: preparation.

You may think that an interview may last only thirty minutes to an hour, and so much preparation time could not possibly be warranted. After all, don't they know everything about you? Not quite. They do not know you. Those interview minutes, from their perspective, are crucial. For this reason, these minutes will be the most important time in your job campaign.

Your interview preparation, therefore, should consist of what you need to find out about the organization, the job for which you are applying, and, if possible, the person who will be interviewing you.
  • Interview Preparation
  • Information on the Organization
  • Gain as much information as you can on the company or firm.
  • Who are the key executives?
  • How large is the organization?
  • How many employees are there?
  • What is the volume of sales?
  • Is it a product or a service organization?
  • What is the specialty or specialties?
  • Does the firm hire paralegals? If so, then how many! And how long have they been there?

The more you know about your company, the better prepared you will be to see how you fit in. You will also save valuable time during the interview. If you have taken the time and effort to do your homework, you will impress your interviewer as being someone who is truly interested in the job. If you are skillful, you can work this knowledge into a conversation in a very casual way, with appropriate timing. For example, if you are talking about your background or interests, you can make a transition to a comment such as, "I was particularly interested in the position your firm took on the West Chicago case that I read about in The Law Review:' Making such references or transitions from a topic to your own interests or background shows that you have well-developed listening skills, so that you are ready to make connections.

Here, we will discuss the importance of listening skills and how to develop them. All this is part of the preparation you must do. And for those who complain that they have no time for such preparation, just think of the return you will get on your investment! The impression you make will enable you to stand out from your competition.

But where will you find this information? There are a number of resources available:
  • Annual reports
  • Articles in business and professional journals
  • Bar Association magazines and newsletters
  • Dunn and Bradstreet directories
  • Lexis/Nexis or WESTLAW
  • Moody's directories
  • Newspapers (including regional trade papers and local newspapers) and magazines
  • Placement agencies, if they have arranged the interview
  • Standard and Poor's directories
  • Finally, remember your personal contacts. Do you know anyone who works for the organization or knows someone who does? Professional associations are also a good source of information on companies.

Information on the Job for Which You are Applying

Find out as much as you can about paralegal positions within the organization, using the same resources mentioned above. In addition, the more you can discuss your role as a paralegal and how you can be an asset to the company, the more you will impress your interviewer.

It is also acceptable for you to have questions about the job and the role of the paralegal within the organization. Would it be possible for you to meet and talk to other paralegals who work there? Intelligent and thoughtful questions will demonstrate your professional interest in the field, as well as the position.

Information on the Interviewer

Find out the exact name of the interviewer, if at all possible, either over the phone when the interview is scheduled or from the receptionist when you come in to the interview. Make certain that you have the correct name and pronunciation. There are instances in which interviewers who have been otherwise impressed by a candidate have ruled out that person because he or she made an error in pronouncing the interviewer's name.

Any other relevant information about the interviewer may prove very useful to you, if it is available, such as what the interviewer does within the company, or the interviewer's background. Is the interviewer the person for whom you would be working? Will the interviewer be the person making the final decision concerning the job? The purpose of such information is not to enable you to offer contrived statements but rather, to illustrate that you are sufficiently interested in the position to find out as much as you can about the company and its staff. Listen carefully to what the interviewer is saying so that you can make connections to your own qualifications for the job. Doing so will confirm in the interviewer's mind that you are person with similar goals and interests who would be compatible, if you do share these interests. In other words, you are getting the interviewer to see you as a person and to like you.

Two final suggestions: Students should not hesitate to ask their teachers or members of the paralegal training staff if they know anything about a firm. Also, when you are called for an interview with a firm that you have not heard of, ask a few questions: What kind of law does this firm practice? How large is it? You needn't spend an extraordinary amount of time over the phone asking these questions before the interview, but a few basic questions will reveal your interest in the firm and will also give you some idea of the kind of work paralegals do on the job.

See the following articles for more information:

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Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

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