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Listen Up: How to Use Your Ears in a Legal Job Interview

published September 16, 2019

By Author - LawCrossing

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Plenty of law students spend their time in the back of a classroom, tuning in and out of hour-long lectures. While this may be good for catching up on sleep, it does nothing to hone your listening skills. In fact, it’s quite the opposite of the kind of listening needed to ace an interview.

At heart, a legal job interview is a conversation, which requires active listening. This means paying close attention to the speaker, showing interest, and retaining what you’ve heard so you can give a relevant response.


To impress an interviewer even when you have your mouth shut, start by assuming everything you’re hearing is important, says Jeff Lipschultz, co-founder of recruiting firm A-List Solutions. “If the interviewer senses you’re not a good listener, they’ll equate that with a person who does not take direction well.”

Here’s how to listen well.

Proper Posture
Good listening starts with physical presence: Sit up straight, keep your head up, make eye contact with the interviewer, and lean in a little. These bits of body language send the message that you’re listening, and they make it easier for you to do so.

Note-Worthy
Taking notes during the interview will help you maintain focus and remember topics to return to later on in the conversation. Don’t try to write everything down—stick to short phrases to base your follow-up questions on, says Lipschultz. Also, be sure to take down the names of all your interviewers: You want to be able to address them throughout the interview.

Moving Right Along
After you’ve completed an answer and the interviewer asks a follow-up question, focus on the issue at hand. If you’re still thinking about how your last answer could have been better, you’ll miss what the interviewer is saying.

Hit Pause
It’s okay to chime in with “right” or “sure” during pauses. Interjections like those are called encouragers, and while they convey that you’re paying attention, it’s easy to annoy your interviewer by overusing them. Save them for interjecting after points that genuinely excite you.