Last week, area practicing attorneys conducted 120 mock interviews of S.J. Quinney students as part of the Mock Interview program sponosred by the Young Alumni Association and PDO! Those students who participated got the chance to meet lawyers who work in judicial chambers, other government offices, and large and smaller firms. If you participated, PDO welcomes your feedback, both positive and “constructive.” Read on for feedback PDO received from the attorneys who conduced the interviews.
1. Preparation and research on the employer or interviewer. “Know who you are talking to” was a common theme in the feedback from attorneys. Most all said that the student preparation and understanding of the employers was better than they had seen in the past. But there is always room for improvement. If you are truly interested in an employer, you should review their website, NALP materials (if they are a member) and consult PDO, professors, and others who have worked there. Be wary of relying solely on one source, even a firm’s website or a trusted friend. The information on a site may be outdated or highlighting a practice area which is not particularly busy. Information from one person may similarly be skewed or outdated.
2. Cover letters. Many attorneys said that the letters could be shorter! If a letter isn’t really interesting (and how many are), keep it brief, typo-free, and well-written. The basics to cover: identify yourself and the position you seek, try to identify an accurate reason you are particularly interested in that employer, request a meeting, and thank them for their consideration. If you DO have skills, background or a significant connection which is relevant to the employer, then by all means use the letter as a means to sell yourself.
3. Resumes. For the most part, the attorneys said your resumes looked great. For those who included a few “interests,” the attorneys appreciated these as easy talking points and a way to break the ice. For example, one attorney-interviewer who is a big fan of the Food Network was happy to find a fellow-foodie in an interviewee, and the two chatted about that common interest for a few minutes. Be sure to triple check the resumes for typos.
4. The Interview. Prepare for the interivew by knowing your resume inside and out. Be prepared to have a response to the “Tell me a little bit about yourself” inquiry. Multiple attorney-interviewers also would advise you to “be a little more confident” during the interview, without being arrogant, of course. You don’t need to tell an interviewer that you are “just a 1L” if that is the case–they can tell that from your cover letter. Other attorneys would remind you that the interview is simply a professional conversation–not an interrogation! Have a few questions in mind in case their questioning slows down, so that you can avoid uncomfortable silences. In fact, you would do well to be prepared for an interviewer to open an interview with “I’ve reviewed your cover letter and resume. What questions do you have for me?” If you can handle that, you can handle anything.