As you complete your final year of law school you will probably set your sights on finding a job in the legal industry. Finding available jobs that are suitable for you can be difficult. Once your applications and resumes have been submitted, all you can do is wait. When you finally hear back from a potential employer it will be time to prepare for your interview. This is your opportunity to shine. Whether or not you get the job will depend on the impression you make during this initial meeting. It is important to know what to do and perhaps more importantly, what not to do, during your legal interview.
Do: Complete Your Homework
Whether you’re interviewing with a large firm, small non-profit organization, or company, you’ll want to do your homework before ever setting foot inside the building. Learn about the employer and what they do. Find a little background information about your interviewer. The information you gather can be incredibly helpful during your interview.
The interviewer will likely ask questions that will require some level of knowledge about the employer and/or specific position. The research you’ve done can help guide your answers and show that you are serious about the job.
Don’t: Show Up Late
Showing up late for an interview is a sign of disrespect. The interviewer is setting aside valuable time to talk to you about an open position. If you are not on time (or better yet, early) you are signaling that the interviewer’s time is less valuable than yours. Your employer will want someone who is punctual, eager to get work accomplished, and respectful of others’ times. You probably shouldn’t expect to receive a call for a second interview if you’re late to the first.
Do: Think About Your Weaknesses
We all have weaknesses. During an interview, you’ll likely be asked to explain your weaknesses and how they may impact your ability to do the job for which you have applied. You should know that the question is coming, so you should have taken the time to prepare a thoughtful answer.
No one knows yourself and your weaknesses better than you do. Write down a short list of areas in which you can improve. Pick one or two. Don’t simply pick things that you think your employer will like (e.g., work too hard, always takes the lead on projects). Figure out how you can work around these weaknesses and prevent them from interfering with your job performance.
When the interviewer asks you to discuss your weaknesses you can have an articulate response. They will likely be impressed that your answer is so insightful. They will certainly appreciate your explanation of how you are working to turn your weakness into a strength.
Don’t: Make Excuses
As an attorney, you will be required to work with others to solve problems and complete projects. Your potential employer will want to hire someone who is a team player. You can relay that you are a team player during an interview by taking responsibility for any failures or shortcomings that you may have. Do not shift the blame to others or make excuses. If you’re willing to place blame on others now, you may not be a great team player.
Do: Have References
If an employer is serious about offering you a job, they will probably want to consult with individuals who know you in an academic and/or professional capacity. Be sure to walk into your interview with a list of references, complete with contact information. Choose references who will be able to offer great insight into your legal abilities, professional drive, and personality. These are all factors that will be important to your potential employer.
Don’t: Forget to Follow Up
The interview is not over just because you’ve shaken hands and walked out the door. The employer you’ve just spoken with still has to make a decision about how to fill the job vacancy. You want to be front and center on their mind. Make sure that you follow up with the interviewer shortly after the meeting. Sending a simple thank you card or letter in the mail leave make the biggest impression.
Other applicants will either forget to follow up or simply send a short email. These can get lost in the shuffle. A physical note will send a message that you are serious about the job. When the employer is making a decision, your note will weigh heavily in your favor.
About the Author: Sherwin Arzani is an award-winning personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, CA and co-founder of Citywide Law Group.