1. Do not commit a social media blunder. Sure – you’ve probably heard this advice before. Don’t post pictures on your Facebook account of you making it rain at the Spearmint Rhino or hitting the pool at the Hard Rock in a thong bikini. But sometimes it doesn’t take anything that egregious to turn a potential employer off. One firm cancelled an interview with my candidate because (1) they saw that he was wearing a un-tucked button down shirt in his Facebook profile photo and (2) they thought the fact that his Facebook profile was publicly available demonstrated poor judgment on his part! A little harsh – yes- but why even risk losing the interview at all? Do a Google search for your name and make sure your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other social media accounts are not publicly available. When Google searching yourself, make sure you go five pages deep – at least – and do both an image and text search. Also, for any photos that are publicly accessible (i.e., on your LinkedIn profile), make sure you stick to professional pictures only.
2. Do not fudge your resume. At all. This includes: stretching dates or eliminating employment gaps, lying or exaggerating about your responsibilities in any position, padding or rounding your GPA, or excluding the law school from which you transferred. If you had a contract or staff attorney position - be honest about it. Don’t try to make it appear as if you were a permanent employee. Law firm and in-house recruiters will sniff out EVERY inaccuracy and you will not get an interview if you have the slightest fib on your resume.
3. If you get an interview, do not be over confident. I typically get two kinds of feedback from partners – the candidate was either dull and unimpressive or too confident and cavalier in his or her attitude. Overconfidence is a turn off to partners – they still want to be able to tell you what to do – they don’t need a know it all. However, a candidate who comes across as unsure of him or herself is also a turn off because they won’t feel comfortable putting you in front of clients.
4. Do not look like a slob. Things like long, unruly hair on men, ripped tights (women), wrinkled clothes, scuffed or unpolished shoes, and an unorganized bag all indicate that you don’t have your act together; you’re not detail oriented, you lack professionalism, you aren’t courtroom/client ready and you don’t take your self seriously. Get a haircut before the interview. Dry clean your suit. Polish your shoes. If you still don’t look respectable after all of that, go out and get a new suit and/or shoes.
Learn why attorneys usually fail law firm phone-screening interviews in this article:
5. Do not seem apathetic about the job. Partners want to be wanted. If you want the job – show enthusiasm and interest in the partner, the practice, and the firm. Ask targeted questions that are not “me” focused. Examples of “me” focused questions are – “What does my career growth look like?”, “What training do you have to offer me?”, “What does my bonus potential look like?”. Examples of firm targeted questions are: “Where do you see the practice in 10 years?”. “What do you look for in an associate?”, “What do you like about this firm?”. Send a follow up email to thank your interviewers for their time and to reaffirm your interest.
- See Top Ten Interview Questions for more information