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Summary: Learn what you must do to get ready for a law firm interview in this article.
Q: How should I best prepare for a law firm interview?
A: Congratulations on your interview! Whether it’s your first interview or your fifth, landing a law firm interview is always exciting. It’s a good idea to treat every interview as though it’s your only interview or the interview at the firm of your dreams, because 1) a firm may surprise you and 2) if you are given an offer at a firm, you or your headhunter may be able to use it as leverage to increase the base, bonus, relocation package, etc. at another firm.
When prepping candidates for an interview, I always tell them to know the job for which they’re being interviewed, to know and research their interviewers, and to research the firm before the interview. If a candidate specializes in both labor & employment and general commercial litigation, he or she should know whether the job description seeks a labor & employment candidate or a general commercial litigation candidate. It’s also wise to go into an interview with several questions prepared to ask each of your interviewers. Specific questions could be about the interviewer’s practice and specific cases or deals, whereas more general questions could be about how the particular attorney or practice group assigns work, about opportunities for marketing and business development, about mentorship, and about general firm culture. Your questions allow the attorney to do the talking, which is ideal because attorneys love to talk about their practice and their work. Oftentimes, a first interview is more of a personality fit or screener interview, and in some cases the attorney won’t ask you any questions at all and will expect you to ask questions for the duration of the interview (whereas a second or third interview will likely be more substantive). So the more questions that you have prepared, the better.
It’s also a good idea to have at least three bragging points prepared that you can insert as appropriate throughout your interview. What are you most proud of in terms of your legal practice experience to date? If you are a litigator, have you taken or defended depositions? If you are a corporate attorney, have you negotiated the terms of an agreement?
Furthermore, it’s helpful to take a critical look at your resume and think about how you will answer any questions related to any red flags that an interviewer might notice. Typical red flags include gaps in your resume, several lateral firm moves, a short stint at a law firm, and a lower GPA in law school. Ask yourself potential red flag interview questions and practice your explanatory answers out loud, ideally with your headhunter.
Finally, do not ask about compensation. The interviewer will want to hear that you are interested in their firm and practice, not in how much money the firm can offer you. Oftentimes, your headhunter will either have information regarding compensation at a particular firm, or should at least have a general idea of the range that someone of your class year and experience can expect to make at the firm.
And of course, give yourself plenty of time to get to your interview, bring several copies of your resume, dress professionally, and practice your firm handshake. If you do all of the above, you should do extremely well in all respects. Good luck!