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Law Firm Interview Tips

published December 24, 2021

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A law firm interview is the most important part of the recruitment process, so it is no surprise that many attorneys and law students worry about messing it up. However, there is no reason for worrying if you come prepared. Once you are invited for the interview, the firm already wants to hire you. If they did not, they would not waste their time and resources on interviewing you. Unless you make a big mistake in the interview itself, you will be fine.
 

That is where this article will help you! As a legal recruiter, I know a thing or two about the law firm interview process and have compiled a list of the most important things to keep in mind if you have law office interviews ahead of you. It does not matter whether you are a law student interviewing for your summer associate position or a senior attorney looking to get hired in their dream law office; these are the top tips for acing any law office interview:

 

The Most Important Things To Keep In Mind During a Law Firm Interview


Dress Professionally


If you want the interviewers to think you are serious about the job, you have to look like it. And the best way to achieve that is by dressing appropriately. That means professionally and the way you want to present yourself in front of clients. Imagine what kind of attorney you would want to represent you as a client and dress like that.
 

Talk to the Point


When answering questions, be concise and talk to the point. Interviewers do not like to hear long ramblings, and it might make them think negatively of you. Moreover, the more you say, the greater the chance they will find something they do not like about you.
 

Be Careful About What You Say About Your Previous Law Firms


If you start revealing too much information about your previous job, the firm might get worried that you will reveal confidential information if you get hired.
 

Body Language Tells a Lot About You


You can be saying all the right things with words; if your body language does not correspond with it, the interviewers will notice, influencing their decision. Sit up straight, make eye contact, look interested in what the interviewers are saying and asking you.
 

Honesty Is the Key


Most of the things you say in the interview can be verified by a single call, so there is really no use in trying to bend the truth to your favor. Just be your usual genuine self. You do not need to excel in everything.
 

Come Prepared


If you want your interview to be successful, you have to prepare and know everything about your resume. You know your weaknesses and what information might need clarification from you, so expect hard questions and be prepared for them.
 

Connect With the Interviewer


Many hiring decisions in law firms are based on personal relationships and connections, so developing rapport with the interviewer is essential. A firm handshake, confident eye contact, and a positive smile are great ways to make a positive impression. However, listening is the most important part. The interviewer should do most of the talking. Your task is to listen attentively, repeat what they are saying in different words to let them know that you are listening, and answer their interview questions concisely and straight to the point.
 

Connect Yourself to the Law Firm and Its Work


Everyone who has been on at least one interview knows that they can expect the question - tell me something about yourself. The best thing you can do is (roughly) prepare your answer beforehand not to feel uncomfortable once this moment comes. A great way to approach it is to find where you fit the job description the best and subtly bring attention to the fact that the firm closely aligns with what you stand for. It will show that you are a good fit for the firm and have prepared for the interview. You can also try to connect your background to your interviewer/head of the law office to establish a rapport with them.

You also have to be prepared for being asked about your knowledge of the firm. This can only be tackled by researching the firm thoroughly before the interview and learning about its philosophy, history, clients, and successes. Focus on the positives about the firm.
 

Do a Proper Research of the Law Firm Before the Interview


Everyone's research capabilities are different, but you should never underestimate researching the law firm properly. The first place to look is the firm's website. Could you read all of it? Then research and review articles about the firm, and if you can, talk to attorneys who work there or other candidates that were interviewed previously. It will show extreme dedication.
 

When Asked About Weaknesses, Turn It Into Something Positive


Although not all interviewers like to ask about candidates' weaknesses, it is a question you can expect. The best way to deal with that is to say something about your personality that may be negative but positive. These are characteristics, such as being a workaholic, too detail-oriented, perfectionist, etc. If you can, always keep your interview as positive as possible and present yourself as an asset to the firm, not something that will be a burden.
 

Addressing Inappropriate Questions


Even though interviewers are trained and should know that questions about marital status or polarizing political questions are off-limits, it can happen that you will be asked something like this. If the interviewer asks something you are uncomfortable with, the key is remaining professional. Ask how it relates to the law firm or politely tells them that you do not want to discuss your personal matters.
 

Do Not Show Your Adversarial Nature If You Have One


The interview for a job in the law office is your opportunity to show that you can be a great addition to the firm, not someone full of themselves who thinks less of everyone else. Avoid being arrogant and pushy at all costs.
 

Prepare To Summarize the Most Important Things in Your Background


Being concise in your interview is very important, and talking about your background should follow the same principle. Even if you already have a lot of experience under your belt in your entire law career, only mention the relevant things in the job description. Bring all the relevant materials and refer to them when you are talking about something.
 

Talking About Background When You Are Under-Qualified


If you have been invited even though you are under-qualified, it is a major accomplishment, and the firm has already decided that they do not care about you being under-qualified. You have to bring attention to aspects of your personality, enthusiasm, and background that fit the job and the firm.
 

Say No to Thank-You Note


If you are trying to decide whether to send a thank-you note or letter after an interview, I suggest you skip it. Sending a thank-you note might be taken as desperate, and the firm might think that you did not feel good enough about the job interview and want to make up for something. It is always better to leave the interview positive and let the firm contact you with their decision.
 

Overcoming a Bad Job Interview


It happens to everyone. Sometimes, it is just not your day, and you mess up your interview. When that happens, the best thing to do is get over the bad interview and not let it get you down. One of the most important things in any interview is being upbeat and enthusiastic, so you cannot let yourself get down because of one bad interview. Once it happens, put it behind you and approach your next one with a clean slate. If you are unsuccessful in an interview, it is almost always because of politics or personal relationships, not because of you, so you should not worry.
 

Things To Avoid at All Costs During a Law Firm Interview


One of the biggest mistakes you can make, which will negatively impact how the interviewers see you even if you have stellar credentials for the job, is arriving late for the interview. You should also never come unprepared or lie during your interview, as the interviewers will eventually find out.

Never focus on the negatives in your last job, as it never reveals anything positive about you. And do not be arrogant. You have to be confident, but do not let it get out of your hands; no one likes to be around someone who thinks they know everything there is to know in this world.
 

Addressing Questions About Other Law Firms


It is prevalent to be asked about the reasons for leaving your previous firms or whether you are interviewing somewhere else. And while you might be leaving for being mistreated, or you might have many reservations about the firms you have been involved with before, you should never bring negativity into your interview. Whatever the situation is, do not gossip or slander your previous employers or firms you have interviewed in before. It is not a good look for you, and the firm might be worried that you will eventually talk badly about them as well.
 

Addressing Questions About Academic Results in Law School


Many attorneys and law students especially think that they will be interrogated about their results in law school. While this is not a question that will be a part of every interview, it can be asked, and even if you did not do very well in law school, you should be honest about your results. However, if you really do not want to talk about your grades from law school, you can steer the conversation to your accomplishments or extracurricular activities in law school so that the interviewer does not think you are trying to dodge the question completely. Remember that grades and law school are not everything. Your skills, motivation, and experiences are much more important.
 

Dressing For Success


Although a nice suit will never get you a job by itself, it can hinder your chances of getting a job if you do not come dressed professionally. Even though there is some change in the underlying dress principles in the world of law, it is always best (and safest) to come dressed professionally and conservatively. Some attorneys prefer a conservative look even in more casual offices, and you never know who you will have your interview with. Men should wear a suit and a tie and finish the interview polished look with some nice shoes. Women's wear should include a nice business skirt, low-heeled shoes, and they should avoid too much jewelry and perfume.
 

Fake It 'Till You Make It


Not everyone is super confident, and many of us struggle with being shy or nervous during a face-to-face interview. If you are like that, the best thing you can do is rehearse your interview beforehand. Ask a relative or a friend to ask you questions and make you interview-ready for the big day. If you have no one to rehearse with, try it in front of a mirror. Also, try to control your visible signs of nervosity, such as fidgeting, stammering, or filler words. The most important thing is to try to remain calm.
 

Interviewing in a Smaller vs. a Large Firm


Large law firms are often more rigid in their recruiting processes and have more steps (screening job interviews, callback interviews, etc.), while smaller firms can be less formal. However, it would be best if you still appeared as professional and conservative as you could.
 

Interviewing With Junior Attorneys vs. Senior Attorneys/Partners


The main difference in interviewing junior vs. senior people in the firm is how they view the competitiveness of the candidates. Junior attorneys often still view themselves as competing with their peers, so they will not like you if you seem too competitive. Senior attorneys and senior partners are usually over this and will want to see competitive and determined candidates.
 

Interviews Outside of the Interview Room


Many firms will want to participate in your interview over lunch or drinks in a different interview location. If that happens, it is important to approach it with the same level of seriousness as a regular interview in an office. It would help if you mirrored your interviewer with the eating pace, courses, drinks they order, etc. NEVER get drunk and always mind your manners and be respectful to the service staff around you.
 

Phone and Virtual Interviews


It is common to have phone interviews before being invited to the firm and with the advancement of technology (and because of other aspects, such as the pandemic), interviewing virtually becomes more widely used. It is a great way to avoid traveling for interviews and coming late with your busy schedule. However, be wary of glitchy interview experiences resulting from a bad internet connection and nervous behavior, yawning, or looking around the room that can be viewed during virtual interviewing just as well as during an in-person meeting.
 

Asking Questions During the Interview Process


Asking intelligent questions is vital for success during your job interview. It lets your curious nature shine, shows that you have been listening and that you can think critically. You can ask about the firm's expectations, job responsibilities, or the possibilities of advancement. You should avoid asking about salary and benefits, whether you will have to work countless hours, and do not let them know if you have any reservations about the firm or the job.
 

Other Resources For Your Interview Day

 

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