Interviewing 101 – General Guidelines

1. For all interviews, be there just a little early (but don’t knock until your appointed time), and dress professionally—generally your best suit, unless you have been invited to dress otherwise, or have good information that you are supposed to dress more casually.  For on-campus interviews, wear a suit.    

2. Be positive and confident (not arrogant, but also avoid self-deprecation).

3.Know your résumé and cover letter inside and out. If you have mentioned something on it, or if you raise an issue during an interview, it is fair game for discussion. 

 4. Research the employer and the interviewers, if you have their names.  You should have the names for the OCI interviewers (although in all interviews, interviewers are subject to change). At a basic level, this should include online searches of employer websites and a review of practice areas.  Also, consult with PDO or others, as online information may not be current.  Have some questions based on what you learn — ones which do not seek information you could have easily gotten off a firm website.  Once you know what the employer does, be sure to express at least a possible interest in those areas of law.  If you interview at a general civil litigation firm and tell them that your true desire is to practice criminal or tax law, you are likely not to be considered further, regardless of how much they liked you.  Have some flexibility.  For example, if you interview at a large firm that has a variety practices, it may be wise to express an interest or talent in more than one area.  They may be about to cut back on one practice area, or have plans to greatly expand (and thus, hire a lot) in another.

5. Before the interview, you should have an answer to these questions (even if they are never actually asked—you will work the information into other parts of the conversation): “Tell me a little bit about yourself?”  (Something slightly interesting, concise, and move on);  “Why did you apply to this specific job/employer?”; “Why should I hire you?”;  “What about your past experiences and challenges has prepared you for this position?”

6. Review the PDO handouts in the network drive on interviewing, which can be found in the Document Library on Symplicity. These cover topics such as: Dressing for Interviews;  Questions you are most likely to be asked and questions you might ask the employer; A broad overview of the interviewing process (including a corresponding powerpoint).

7. Write a thank you note/email within 24 hours of the interview.  A thank you note may be emailed to each interviewer if there were multiple interviewers, or handwritten to all interviewers.  Be brief, but highlighting why you remain interested in the employer or something interesting and helpful you learned in the interview.  Don’t email your thank you note ten seconds after the interview concludes.  This is weird and it looks like you had pre-drafted your emails before the interview even happened.

8. Although you may hold up to five offers open, should you be so fortunate, make your decisions as soon as you reasonably can, so as to release offers which might be made to classmates.  There is no reason not to begin mentally ranking employers in your mind before interviews.  Use the interviews to test your early impressions.   If you receive a sixth offer (wouldn’t that be nice!), you have one week to release an offer. 

9.Outside of fall recruiting, NALP guidelines suggest that you may keep an offer open for up to two weeks from the date of a written offer.  Although you should not rush into any important decision such as where to work, common sense and courtesy also dictate that you let employers know as soon as possible.  Spring recruiting is very fast – both for callbacks and offers, so you should be prepared to learn of offers quickly.

 10. If you receive an offer before you are prepared to make a final decision, i.e., you have another interview lined up, be gracious, grateful, and ask if you might have some time to consider the offer.  Let them know if you need more time than is offered, although prepare to be reasonable and ready to make your decision as promptly as possible.  Most employers are well aware that you may be exploring other options.  If you have concerns, let PDO know.