Hello law students!
You’re about to embark on what can be an incredibly overwhelming time in your academic career: interview season. To help you prepare, we asked members of Foley’s Recruiting Committee to give us their BEST interview advice. We’ve shared their tips below, a few of which you may not have heard before.
Talk to people who clerked at the firm a year or two prior. They’re going to be able to give you some of the best “inside” information about what it’s like to work there. And, when you answer the question Why this firm?, you can demonstrate that you’ve gone out of your way to learn about the firm before the interview.
Learn about the particular office(s) you’re interested in, in addition to getting to know the firm as a whole. One way to do this is to reach out to attorneys in that office. Each office of a firm is unique, especially culturally.
You don’t need to follow your interviewers on LinkedIn or social media. Reading their firm bios is usually enough to learn what you need to know about them.
Don’t regurgitate your interviewer’s resume. Instead, use the information that you’ve learned about them to establish a genuine connection and ask questions about their practice in case there are lags in the conversation.
Record yourself answering the commonly asked questions so you can hear what needs to be tweaked. The point is to be really comfortable answering the customary questions — but without sounding like you’re reading from a script. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel.
Don’t practice your interview skills during your interviews! Law firm interviewing is a unique skill, and many of you have never done it before. Do as many mock interviews as possible. You’ll see that you get a lot more comfortable the more you practice. Most schools and many organizations provide opportunities for mock interviews.
Do your best to ensure that you’re in a quiet environment and that the background is appropriate if you’re doing an interview remotely. It can come across as unprepared if you have distractions in the background. Use blurred or virtual background filters to make sure the focus is on you during the interview.
Be authentic and look for genuine opportunities to connect. Convey who you are as a person, rather than just who you are on your resume. For example, discuss why you’re interested in the activities and achievements on your resume.
Keep your answers at an appropriate length. Don’t spend the full 20-30 minutes answering Tell me about yourself. You’re looking to have a good back-and-forth conversation. You want the interview to be more like a conversation than an interrogation!
Share why you want to work in a particular location if there is no apparent explanation on your resume. If you have connections — family, previously lived there, etc. — be sure to mention them. You don’t want to leave the interviewer wondering why you want to come work in their office.
Base your questions and comments around something unique or specific to the firm you’re interviewing with. In that regard, avoid the simplistic question that anyone could come up with: “I see your firm has a large health care sector. Can you tell me more about it?” This is better: “I see you opened an office in Salt Lake City. I know Salt Lake City is a fast-growing city with an emerging tech sector. Will the office be geared to take advantage of that or something else?” That kind of question demonstrates thinking beyond the obvious.
Apply whatever experience you have (education, work, or hobby) to a skill that is necessary for the practice of law. Examples: Travel in a foreign country may have tested your ability to communicate and problem solve; multiple years of study in a particularly challenging subject can demonstrate discipline and perseverance; a legal clerkship at a nonprofit may have taught you how to deal with clients and appreciate resource constraints.
Send a thank you note right away. Follow up with a brief, thoughtful thank you email that incorporates something you talked about. It will serve as a good reminder before the interviewer completes the final interviewer notes and recommendations for the day.
If you want to hear more from Foley on all things summer associate recruiting, listen to The Path & The Practice podcast Episode 56, during which we review the screening and callback process for summer associate hiring and the best way to prepare for and to navigate interviews. Additionally, we share what it is that Foley is looking for in law student candidates, how the summer associate program is structured, as well as what it is that makes for a successful summer associate experience.