Ugh, interviews. If someone tells you they love interviewing for a job, chances are they are blowing smoke. Applying for jobs while completing a clerkship, in school, or just in general can be stressful. This guide provides an overview of basic interview tips to ensure you walk into your interview confident and prepared.
WHEN TO APPLY
It is probably safe to start applying about five or six months before your anticipated start date. For example, if a clerkship is set to be complete in August, you can start applying around March or April. If you are in a clerkship, oftentimes it better to wait as long as possible so you aren’t conflicted off of cases.
APPLYING FOR THE JOB
If you your law school has a career center, absolutely utilize them. The career center will review your resume and cover letter. Triple check every cover letter you send out for errors. You’re likely not even going to get an interview if you address the wrong person, or having grammar or spelling errors.
PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW
After you submit your cover letters, resume, transcripts, and writing samples, it is now time to start preparing for interviews! Again, utilize your career center at your law school. If you are no longer in school, the American Bar Association has a great list of interview questions that you can utilize to prepare. Here is the link to the sample interview questions from the ABA: SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Be careful of coming off as rehearsed in an interview. Meaning, interviewers will be able to tell when an answer isn’t genuine and is just a generic answer that you found off of google. Thus, write down bullet points of what you want to say, and try relating everything back to a concrete example.
sample of questions you may get asked:
- What are contributions you would make to the firm/ office
- What is a mistake you made at work and how did you handle that
- How do you deal with different personalities at work
- Why did you chose your law school
- How do you handle time constraints and deadlines
sample question for interviewers:
- What kind of cases to young attorneys/ associates handle
- What are the qualities of a successful _______ associate/ prosecutor/ public defender, etc.
- How much responsibility is given to a young attorney in your office
- If you are applying to a position that has an elected official (like attorney general, state’s attorney, etc) it is probably a good idea to ask when their term will be up
WHAT TO WEAR
Wear a suit. Dress professionally as if you are going to court. If you are young attorney, wear a black, navy blue, or grey suit and a white blouse underneath. Wear minimal jewelry, and make sure your makeup isn’t distracting. The interviewer should be focused on your resume and interview techniques, not what you are wearing. Thus, it is best to keep things simple. Wear something that makes you feel confident. If it’s a dress, make sure to pair it with a suit coat. If its a pair of heals, make sure they are appropriate for the hem length of your dress or skirt.
CONDUCTING THE INTERVIEW
Relax, and be calm and poised. Make sure to listen to the interviewer, don’t interrupt, and be professional. Be yourself, and it will go great!
CLOSING THE INTERVIEW/ THANK YOU NOTES
Shake hands, make eye contact, and give the interviewers your business card should they have follow up questions. Send a handwritten thank you note to every individual in the interview room room. Make sure the thank you note has a personal detail from the interview. You can also send a thank you email if you are under a time constraint.
Thanks for reading!
Photo Credit: Love From Sarah Peterson