If you've been out of the job market for a few years you may be ready to make a lateral move. Interviewing for jobs as a lateral attorney is much tougher today than it was when prior to the recession, when firms were hiring anyone with a pulse and a law degree. Although the job market is opening up for lateral attorneys, the competition is intense and often times firms are selecting candidates from large pools of applicants. If you get an interview, you must be able to prove to the firm that you have the experience and the personality required to succeed. Therefore, it is imperative that you brush up on your interview skills prior to interviewing for a new job.
Preparation is key. Do not try and “wing it” and go to an interview unprepared. Understand what the goal is when you go into an interview — getting hired. Back in the good ole days, your résumé alone was sufficient to get you a job. The interview process was merely a formality and a way for firms to screen out people who were completely socially inept. Today, the résumé is only one component of your candidacy….
Your credentials may have gotten you through the door, but a well-prepared interview is what is going to seal the deal. Good preparation demonstrates interest and seriousness of purpose on the part of a candidate.
Know your résumé inside and out, and be prepared to speak in detail about the work you have done, the cases or transactions you have been part of, etc. You do not want to get caught off guard when asked about something on your résumé. The interview is your opportunity to expound upon key bullet points in your résumé and how they relate to the position you are seeking.
Practice talking about yourself — it is not everyday that you have to spend hours discussing your accomplishments. You need to develop a simple sales pitch highlighting your strengths, accomplishments, experiences, etc. You must get used to self-promotion without sounding overtly cocky. There is a balance, but you need to practice to make that pitch work.
When speaking about work experience, come up with 3-4 times you felt your work really stood out OR you got great experience. It's better to show than tell. Interviewing is a chance to talk about success stories and BRAG about oneself. Don't just say you are a great lawyer -- give examples of why that is the case. What types of things did you do that made you stand out from the others? Do not be shy in telling others compliments you may have received from partners or firm clients about your work.
Have a well thought out answer as to what you are looking for in a firm. If the move is purely geographical, then the best answer is that you are looking for good quality work and a similar work environment to your current firm. Explain what you like about where you are and what you hope to find in the next firm.
Please remember that being a prepared and informed candidate will make you stand out as a truly motivated and diligent candidate. The candidate attending an interview without sufficient preparation demonstrates to the hiring partner that you lack interest, which will ultimately result in your candidacy being overlooked.