Your first interviews during and after the 1L year can be a daunting and overwhelming experience, but following these tips will help keep stress low while presenting yourself as a competent, well-researched candidate.
#1: Do Your Research
- Look up the firm ahead of time! Be sure you know what type of law they practice. Is it general or more specialized?
- If you really want to impress research the “hot button” issues in the specific practice area of law.
- Figure out who will be interviewing you. Come up with specific questions based off his or her experience and items that interest you about his or her resume or firm bio to discuss.
- Bonus Points: You might find something you have in common with your interviewer through your research, such as attending the same college, law school, or similar hobbies in common, which are perfect conversation starters.
- Google the firm and see if they have social media accounts with current updates. This will help you get a feel for the type of work they do, potentially how often attorneys are in court or mediation, and what day-to-day life is like at the firm.
- Bonus Points: Bring up posts from the social media account that were of interest to you in the interview.
#2: Prepare Questions Ahead of Time
- Interviewers will often ask, “What questions do you have for me?” Here are a few of my favorites:
- What are you looking for in a first-year summer associate?
- What are your expectations, day to day, over the course of the summer, and even after the summer?
- What is a typical day like for a first-year summer associate?
- Why do you like working at the firm?
- Do you typically work with a specific group of attorneys or a specific partner, or is your work spread amongst various groups and areas?
- Preparing questions ahead of time makes you look polished and composed.
#3: Look Good, Feel Good
- Give yourself plenty of time to get dressed and look presentable. Be sure to get your suit dry cleaned well in advance, that the clothing fits well, and that you feel confident in what you are wearing.
- Look polished! Whatever this means to you—for gentlemen, it might mean a fresh shave; for ladies, it might mean a fresh coat of nail polish. Whatever makes you feel like you look good will help you feel confident and ready to tackle the interview.
- Bonus Points: Get directions ahead of time, and if you are unfamiliar with the area either visit the day before to ensure you know the location, or plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early to ensure you are on time for the interview. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
#4: No Need to Pigeonhole
- Lots of law students feel the need to specialize in their first year, or select the type of law they want to practice for the rest of their life. This approach may be great for some, but it is certainly not necessary. Law school provides you with the opportunity to dabble in various types of law, and summer associate positions can as well. Even if you know the type of law you’d like to practice, it never hurts to try something different or expand that scope.
- Apply to a variety of firms in terms of size, practice, location, and so on. You never know what might be the right fit for you!
#5: Thank-You Notes
- Sometimes the key to a great interview happens after the actual interview! Remember to send a sincere thank-you note, be it an email or handwritten, that provides some detail about the conversation you had or something you learned that was meaningful to you. This shows the interviewer that you care, that you were actually listening, and appreciate the time he or she gave to interview you.
- The note does not have to a law school tome, just something that shows your appreciation.
A thank-you note should be sent within 24 to 48 hours after the interview.