The purpose of most initial interviews is to determine your level of maturity, poise, confidence, and overall likeability. The interview is not to determine your intelligence. Instead, the interviewers will be asking themselves the following questions during the interview:
- Would I like to work with this person?
- Would I be comfortable presenting this person to a client?
- Does this person really want to work for us?
- Does this person want to do the type of work we do? (Note that you don’t have to have your career all planned out, but it is inadvisable to tell an interviewer that you want to be a tax lawyer when the firm doesn’t have a tax practice.)
1. Know the firm with whom you are interviewing, what they do, and, when possible, know something about the person who is interviewing you. “Do your homework” before you begin bidding for on-campus interviews or preparing your cover letters and resumes for mailing to prospective employers. Review information from the firm’s website, Martindale-Hubbell; talk to CSO staff; and talk to fellow students who have worked for particular firms.
2. Be prepared. Think about your responses to possible questions before you interview. Know your strengths (and weaknesses) and know how to articulate them in the best possible way.
3. Create a favorable impression. Dress appropriately in conservative business attire. Arrive early. Have a firm handshake. Make eye contact. Have a relaxed but professional demeanor.
4. Market yourself. This is your opportunity to “sell” yourself. Take an active approach to interviewing. Give out the information you want to give. Prepare answers to those questions you hope never come. An interview is an information exchange. Do not give simply “yes” or “no” answers.
5. Keep good records. Immediately after the interview, write down the name of the interviewer, the date of the interview, and any pertinent new information given to you. This helps when writing thank-you letters, in call-backs, and in decision-making if given an offer.
6. If you receive a message regarding a call back (second) interview, respond immediately by telephone. If you have a non-professional sounding message on your answering machine, change it now.