After sending out countless resumes, networking your way across the city, and calling on every law school alumnus in your coveted field of practice, you’ve finally done it – you’ve landed an interview. Congratulations! Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your face-time with a potential future employer.
- DO arrive promptly on time. Being late can derail you before you utter your first word…but being inappropriately early can be off-putting as well. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination without having to stress about traffic jams and public transportation hiccups. Scout the local Starbucks ahead of time, where you can kill a half hour before your appointment if necessary.
- DO dress for success — wear a business professional suit or conservative dress. This reinforces that you are serious about the opportunity. The climate of many “corporate casual” firms and companies can make it tempting to dress down. Avoid this pitfall. Dressing too casually, quirky, or trendy can come off as aloof.
- DO come prepared to thoughtfully discuss your job history and to weave a cohesive story about your background. How did your role evolve at ABC Law Firm? Why did you leave ABC for XYZ & Associates? Why are you looking to move on from Acme, Co.? Nothing stalls an interview quicker than a bunch of, “Uhhhh’s”, “Ummmm’s” and “Wellllll’s….”.
- DON’T badmouth a former employer — ever. No exceptions. It turns a positive conversation into a negative one and leaves a toxic vibe in the air.
- DO your research. Find and absorb everything you can about the firm/corporation and your interviewer. How many employees are there…locations of the offices…areas of practice/business, to name a few basic facts. Has the firm been in the news recently? Does their website list notable deals or cases that they have been a part of? Know your audience and it will help the conversation flow more smoothly.
- DO come with a mental list of meaningful questions. And don’t be afraid to ask questions of your interviewer – his/her background, experience with the employer, career path, etc. Interviewers love the chance to talk about themselves and it keeps the conversation from being too one-sided.
- DON’T use curse words. Keep your vernacular professional.
- DO turn your cell phone to silent and do not look at or answer your phone during an interview. Better yet, leave the phone in your car.
- DO rehearse a thoughtful response to the question, “Why are you interested in this opportunity?” By the way, “Because I need insurance;” “because I need a job;” and “because I need the money,” are not appropriate responses.
- DO send hand-written thank you notes immediately following the interview. This small gesture goes a very long way in ensuring that your last impression is a positive one.