Top Ten Job Interview Tips for Attorneys and Graduating Law Students
Angelica Cesario | February 27, 2020
Whether you’re graduating from law school or looking to make a major change in an already-established career, preparing for an interview can be nerve-racking. We’ve all been in the hot seat at some point. So, what is it that interviewers are looking for anyway? What’s the best way to put your best foot forward and stand out from the crowd?
We asked our distinguished faculty for their best pieces of advice for attorneys and law students trying to land that dream job. Check out the top ten answers below - and let us know what interview techniques you’ve found to be most successful in the comments.
I. Understand the firm’s culture.
The operative term in the question is "your" firm. Recruiters always tell candidates to do their homework, i.e., research the firm, so they can ask good questions of the interviewer; but doing one's homework also serves another purpose. If you understand the firm's culture, you can determine whether you and the firm are a good fit.
Be yourself and be honest. If you oversell or come across as too polished and the true nature of the candidate comes out while already employed, it will be even worse. We will terminate if it is not a good fit personality wise, and if you were dishonest and overselling your abilities we will not be able to trust you as an attorney at our firm.
Be confident, and highlight in concrete terms what you have to offer. Using examples of ways in which you have tackled tough problems or achieved difficult goals is very helpful to enable the interviewer to get a sense of how you work, think, and perform under pressure.
Research the people with whom you will be interviewing and find some commonalities that you can connect through. That kind of preparation demonstrates a strong interest in the firm and also highlights the candidate's research and comprehension skills.
Be flexible--don't say "I'm only interested in doing X." Want proof? Ask the interviewer "Are you doing what you envisioned when you went to law school?" When (not if) the answer is "no," ask the interviewer "What changed?"
Landed the job? Congratulations. Now remember this helpful tip from Mark Goldstein at Reed Smith LLP: never forget the importance of self-care. “The best piece of advice I can offer is to take care of yourself. Your career will be a marathon, not a sprint -- as trite as that saying is, it is in fact true -- and the attorneys who take care of their health -- and by that I mean both physical AND mental health -- will be best-positioned to thrive throughout their professional lives.” We couldn’t agree more!
Angelica Cesario is Lawline's Lead Program Attorney. She graduated cum laude from Amherst College in 2008 and holds a B.A. in Women's and Gender Studies and a Certificate in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2013 and is admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey. Before joining Lawline, Angelica worked as a plaintiff-side labor & employment litigation attorney. Outside of work, Angelica serves on the Board of Directors of the TEAK Fellowship, a non-profit academic and cultural enrichment program that provides educational access to top NYC students. Angelica is the proud mom of an energetic toddler. During her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new foods, and catching up on her favorite TV shows.