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The Five Reasons Law Firms Do Not Hire You After an Interview

published June 30, 2021

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Getting an interview with a large law firm after sending in countless applications is a great accomplishment, but now you have to convince the hiring managers that you are the right person to practice law in their firm. Once you are seated in front of them, your resume, top law school, or great law firms will no longer help you. As a founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal industry who personally place multiple attorneys who search jobs every week, I have interviewed so many lawyers that I lost count years ago. Some have turned out to be better employees than others, but it all led me to the knowledge I have and career advice I can give you today. Legal employers want to find out five different things about you that help them make recruiting decisions. If you do not persuade them enough in these five domains, the likelihood of getting the job is slim, and you might be waiting forever for the callback.
 
 

The Five Things Law Firms Want to Find Out About You in an Interview Are:

 
  1. Will you support the firm and the employer?
  2. Do you really desire to work in that particular law firm?
  3. Are you capable of doing the job they want to hire you for?
  4. Will you be a good representative for the firm?
  5. Are you better for the firm and position than other candidates?


Will You Support the Law Firm You Are Interviewing For?



People are social creatures by design, and they seek to have someone on their side, someone they can trust. Even though the legal industry is often regarded as a cruel, cold world and a tough workplace, there is no difference. They still need people to support them. Attorneys are constantly surrounded by people who question them, tell them they are not good enough, undermine them, and exclude them. The more successful an attorney is, the more people there are against them and the more insecurities they have because of that behavior.

That is not a healthy environment to be in, so everyone in a firm needs to surround themselves with people they can trust. And that is what they are looking for when hiring new attorneys. They want to know that you will have their back when they hire you and not use these insecurities they have for your own advancement.

It is essential to portray yourself as a trustworthy person who will have the back of people close to you during an interview or professional conversation. It can help you get jobs, clients and advance your legal career. If you know how to make people feel that they can count on you, you are winning.

The recruitment process and interviewing costs law firms a lot of money and time, so if they invite you for an interview, you better believe that they want to hire you. But they also need to see that you are someone they can work with for years to come and someone they can trust. They cannot afford to hire a person who won't fit in and won't represent the firm adequately. And they cannot afford to hire someone who will not support them, or worse, go against them. If you can persuade the interviewer that you are on their side, your chances of getting the job or signing on a client grow exponentially.
 

How to show that you will support others in the legal employment space


The last thing any person wants is to feel like they are alone in their beliefs and that no one believes in them. So when interviewers find a lawyer who supports the firm, boosts confidence rather than making it all about themselves, firms will jump at this opportunity because these types of people don't come around often.

A bit of good career advice I can give you if you want to find success in any job interview is that you need to stop making it all about yourself and your past successes. Rather, you should concentrate on making the other person feel because people always remember that. If you can make them feel that you will fight for their team and support them, it will help you immensely get jobs and get clients. You will also be a happier and better person because you will be surrounded by people you trust and who trust you.

You may have already lost jobs in the past or had problems in your workplace because you weren't supporting your boss, or you were talking negatively about them, had personality conflicts, or something similar. It is one of the most common reasons for losing a job. Firms cannot afford to have employees who talk badly about them or are not 100% committed.

So it's imperative to understand this dynamic and how you communicate that to the employers. When you're looking for a job, law firms want to hire people they feel comfortable with, connected to, and who will help make them and the firm look good - attorneys who will be on their side, do tasks for them, bill the hours, and protect their interests. When you can convince firms and interviewers of these things, you will have a much better chance to succeed because such people are really hard to find.

In my many years of professional experience as a lawyer, but also a legal recruiter, I have seen many instances of how not showing support costs someone their legal placement or, on the other hand, how being supportive of your firm and your boss can advance your career. In my first legal job, I worked with a woman who wrote down every instance of someone acting in a manner she didn't like toward her or every negative rumor or comment someone said about the firm. It was a very negative way to approach her work, and everybody knew that. So when the first opportunity came, and she made a mistake, they fired her without batting an eye. If the law firm thought of her as someone who worked for the team and felt they could count on her, they would have never fired her after just one mistake because she was otherwise an outstanding lawyer. But they couldn't let someone who was clearly against the firm remain on the payroll.

I have also made the mistake of talking badly about my superior, although it was much earlier in my life before practicing law. As a valet at a country club, I complained about my boss to a colleague, and the next day, I was fired. As a result, I learned it was stupid to talk badly about the company where I work or anyone else working there. At least now, I can give this career advice to you. You shouldn't talk badly even about your previous employers during the hiring process to a new position (or ever). If your potential employer sees how you treat someone you no longer need, they might automatically think that this is how you will be talking about them once you decide to move forward, so they won't take the risk of employing you.

Many people believe that just because they're qualified for a position, the employer will hire them. But that is far from the truth. Firms are looking for attorneys who will be able to do the work, help others with the work, represent the firm everywhere they go and work relentlessly on moving the whole firm forward, not merely looking after their own successes.

But how to convince the interviewer and the firm that you are someone like that in the span of one job interview?

As a founder of BCG Attorney Search, I have had the opportunity to interview countless attorneys and filled thousands of attorneys jobs, so I know something about this. The attorneys I interviewed that I remember to this day have always been those who have found a way to demonstrate their commitment to working for me. They found out everything they could about the company before the interview and had suggestions to expand. Other attorneys found out everything about me, read all of my articles on legal career-related topics and my life advice articles. They came in with ideas on how to implement that information to improving lawyers' legal careers. Even simply showcasing interest in me, smiling throughout the interview, and showing respect and a bit of admiration made me want to hire them and remember them.

If the hiring manager believes that you like them, they will automatically trust you more, and that is the thing you want. That is why you need to connect with them. If they feel like you connected with them personally, understand them and their perspective, your chance to get that legal placement is good. Try to find something you have in common, whether it is a law school, previous law firm, an acquaintance, or a city you are from, and build your connection from that. You will see how much easier it will be.

There are some basic things all interviewers try to figure out during the interviewing process, and if you can answer these hidden questions the right way, the job is yours. They usually try to find out if you will talk negatively about them or someone else at the law firm behind their back. This is easily shown by how you are talking about your previous colleagues and superiors. They also want to know whether you are prone to complain about your pay or workload. Another important thing they try to figure out before hiring is how you will act during hardships. Will you do what it takes for the firm to overcome this period, or will you give up at the first sign of problems? And the last important thing employers want to know about you is whether you will be with the firm for the long run. Recruitment is a demanding and expensive process that law firms do not like to go through more than they have to, so when looking for someone, they want that person to be with the firm for years. Law firms and interviewers usually predict this by looking at your previous record to see how long you were with your previous employers and how often you switched firms. Convince interviewers that you care about them and the firm, want to work there for a long time, and will work hard to help the firm prosper, and you will be successful.
 

Do You REALLY Want to Work in This Law Firm?


There are countless attorneys, law students, and others in the legal profession trying to get hired for every law firm position on the job market. And firms are trying to find the right person for the legal placement, which is often quite difficult with so many applicants. But one thing they can normally and easily identify and can decide your fate in the hiring process is if you actually want the job.

I realized the importance of actually wanting the job for the outcome of the hiring process when I was interviewing for jobs while not knowing if I still wanted to practice law. Before, I was used to being quite successful in this and got offers from most law firms I interviewed with, but when I was unsure whether I wanted the job, I suddenly got a callback from only a fraction of the firms. And one of the interviewers even told me that he could see I didn't really want the job, so he had no reason to hire me.

Desire is not something you can pretend to have. The interviewers will always know whether you genuinely want the job or just the paycheck. An attorney who is not extremely committed will probably have switched firms quite often for odd reasons or took too much time off. They may also seem uninterested in their work, lack excitement in their voice when talking about it, and not doing anything beyond what is completely necessary. That is not a type of employee firms want.

On the other hand, when you show up knowing everything there is to know about the firm and the interviewer for the interview, talk excitedly about the job and the area, come up with actionable ideas on how to push the firm forward, the interviewer can see that you really want the job and want a better legal career. With such an approach, you are much more likely to get hired even over attorneys and law students with better law schools and from better law firms if they are less committed to the job.

As a legal recruiter in BCG Attorney Search, I interview and hire attorneys daily. Not wanting the job enough can prevent me from hiring even a lawyer with the best credentials. If people don't bother to read up about the firm, don't know what the position is about, do not seem excited to answer questions, or seem indifferent to the job, why would anyone want them in their firm? Employees like that probably won't do everything they can in the job, won't push forward, and often leave the firm not long after getting hired. And the legal search and placement will have to start again.

If you want your law firm interviews to be successful, you must show that you will be dedicated to the firm and the employer. Find out information about them, show why you are interested in the job and the firm, make the employer feel good about what they are doing, and show you respect them and what they are doing. They have to feel that you want the job, not just the money.

Show the particular employer that you like them, and they will want to hire you and keep you around. They have insecurities like all of us, so if you can stroke their ego a bit, show enthusiasm about what they are doing, and connect with them, it will help you a lot. Everybody wants someone like that around in their personal as well as professional life. If you can persuade the employer that you like them and you really want the job, your job search will be successful.
 

Are You Capable of Doing the Job the Way the Law Firm Wants It Done?


If you are invited to the interview, the employer already thinks you can do the job based on your credentials and resume. However, they have to determine whether you can do it the way the firm wants it to be done during the interview.

Each law firm has its own ways of how they are doing work. Some require their attorneys to work long hours during the week. Others will want you to work most weekends. Some will allow you to work from home on occasion; other law firms are completely against it and want their employees to be in the office all the time. Many lawyers fail to understand these differences and ruin their chances of getting hired because they try to set their own terms during the interviews.

Widely considered as one of the biggest mistakes made by many attorneys is try to negotiate their own personal working schedule or the possibility of working from wherever they want. However, the truth is, in a huge law firm, you rarely work on your own. Partners hire you to help them with their work, which means they want to have you close and discuss different aspects and approaches to working with you whenever they need you. If you were working from home, they would have to call you and try to explain everything through a video which can sometimes take longer than doing it in person. They also know that you have much more distractions at home with your family members running around, which could disrupt your concentration and make you prone to making mistakes.

Working whenever you want is also inconvenient to partners and other people because work sometimes comes over the weekend. There will always be instances when you have to work late because you are approaching a deadline or have many different things to do simultaneously. You have to be available and easy to contact for the partners when working to do the job you were hired for.

Some lawyers are also very determined to know best how the work should be done and convince the firm about their opinion during the interview process. That is not the way to go. Law firms are lead by experienced and intelligent people who usually have good reasons to do things the way they do. An example of that comes from my experience as a BCG Attorney Search hiring partner for a company looking for litigators. They wanted to hire a senior and a junior attorney to deal with the firm's litigation, and they specifically said that they didn't want to work with external law firms because of some prior problems. All applicants were informed about this information; still, several tried to convince the interviewers why they would like to manage the litigation and hire other law firms to do the actual work. You can imagine that none of these applicants got the job.

Working in the legal industry is hard enough as it is. The last thing employers need is attorneys who argue with them on how to do the job they have been successfully doing for years. If you are one of these opinionated attorneys and reveal this during your interview, the interviewer will never hire you or vouch for you because they will anticipate bringing problems later. For instance, in BCG Attorney Search, we almost exclusively hire people without legal recruitment experiences from other firms. We have specific ways of doing things, which work for us and have made us the most successful recruiter company in the United States. Personally, I want our employees to follow our guidelines and not bring other ways of doing things and bad habits into it.

It is effortless to uncover that you have your own ideas about how you want to work during the interview. It is not just about how you answer the interviewer's questions but also about the questions you ask. When you are talking about the possibility of working from home, of not traveling for work, or whether you need to join other firm activities, a skilled recruiter might think that your ideas on how jobs should be done differ from their own. This may make them question whether or not they want to hire someone like this who has his/her own vision.
 

Will You Represent the Law Firm in a Good Light?


When you are meeting with your clients, arguing in court, or just attending a business lunch, you are not there as yourself. You are there as a representative of your law firm. And law firms want to appear professional in front of their clients (and everyone else), which means you have to appear professional and in line with how your firm wants to look.

An interview is usually the first instance in which your potential employer can see you in real life. Your resume with an amazing law school, great training, and previous law firm experience might have gotten you to the interview. Now, it is about persuading the interviewer that you fit with what the firm is looking for. Your outward appearance, clothes, behavior, manners, people skills are a vital part of that.

If you are shy and panic whenever you are supposed to talk to new people, stumble over your words, and make grammatical mistakes, you will probably not be a good representative for a large law firm. If you don't have good manners, are rude to others, and have inappropriate comments, it will make your employer look unprofessional whenever you represent it. If you fail to dress appropriately, have the smell of cigarette smoke every day, are covered in tattoos on parts of your body that are not easily concealed, do not look groomed regularly, or look unprofessional in any way, the firm will not want to hire you because you will not be able to represent the firm in a good light.

The best thing you can do is research what you can about the firm and the position before the interview. How do other attorneys in a similar position for which you are interviewing look and act? What kind of suits and haircuts do they wear? Once you figure this out, you can decide which version of you best suits the position. If you cannot find such information, you can think of what kind of attorney you would like to see representing you. How do they look, speak, appear? Think of that and act the part.

In today's world full of technology, an important part of being a good representative is your online presence. Like every other person, you probably have profiles on several social media platforms and update them regularly. Employers will often look at your social media to see whether you are a good fit for them. If you like to express extreme, controversial opinions or too much politics, it will often sway them not to hire you because that would not represent the firm.
 

Are You the First Choice Among the Candidates for the Position?


The employer or the hiring partner has to like you more than other applicants to give you the job. There is just no going around that. And it can be hard being the first choice sometimes when there are hundreds of good candidates. Interviewers often choose who they want to hire pretty early on in the recruitment process, and you need to be the most sympathetic and likable candidate they interview to be their choice.

Apart from doing what was touched on in the previous sections, it is important to understand that some people will just not like you. We cannot expect everyone we meet to adore us, and it is okay. However, you can use certain techniques to increase the chances of others taking a liking to you.

One of such techniques is not bragging about yourself and your accomplishments during an in-person interview. Your resume says all of these things about you. You don't have to repeat them. You probably know this from your own experience, but no one likes people who talk about what they have achieved all the time. Doing so might also tell the interviewer that you seek credit for everything, which doesn't usually go well in law firms.

Another thing you can do to appear more likable is to humanize yourself. Instead of talking about the law school, you went to and the rank you got, talk about your family, what you love to do, or where you made mistakes and how you are trying to learn from them. When the interviewers see a real person behind your resume, they will like you more.

The important part of getting a job and being successful in it is connecting with people around you. You can connect based on some shared interest, the law school you went to, or people you know. But to connect with others, you also have to let them talk about themselves and reveal to you what they enjoy. When you let them talk about themselves, make them feel like the only person in the room, and seem interested in it, it will automatically make you more charming and nice. Being a good listener can get you far in life. Successful people are always great listeners and know what questions to ask, not to seem offensive but really interested and wanting to know more. Good interviewers are always great listeners. Truly great mentors are also always good listeners. Any legal professional mentor I have ever met has always had great listening skills when talking with attorneys.

You can be the top-choice attorney regardless of whether you have the best credentials or qualifications. Some different candidates might be better attorneys, but if they cannot translate their skills to make the interviewer like them the most, they will not get the job. Are you likable? This is often the only question you have to answer.

See also:
 

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