interviewing

Sales First. Then Law Career.

As a law student, that sounds pretty crazy, right? Well, if you are suddenly in the interview stage of your law school track then you are going to be selling something important soon – yourself!

Listing out your outstanding accomplishments and achievements on your resume and cover letter won’t necessarily make the cut in the interview process. Sure, it’s great to give your possible employers an idea of what you’ve done academically; however, to become a cut above the rest, you have to sell yourself as if you were a valuable product sitting on a shelf in a quality department store.

Start to think like a salesperson. No, not the super pushy salesperson on the phone trying to get you to buy movie channels – the salesperson that talks to you like a respected colleague as you browse your favorite store. Likeability is important, even in sales people. If a salesperson is confident in their product and is friendly, maintains good eye contact, a strong handshake, and a smile, you would likely feel more inclined to buy from that person.

Listing out your resume bullet points again in your cover letter is like hearing that pushy salesperson drone on about how your cable bill will go down if you just sign on for another year. All you want to do is let them finish or even just hang up on them. (We’ve all done it!)

Try it again. But this time, get excited! Get your customer interested in you as a product. Talk about your great features and benefits. Mention that one of your features is your dedication, but then explain the benefits of that dedication. Perhaps you’re the first one in the office in the morning and the last one to leave. Or better yet, mention a time that your dedication created a tremendous result in a school project or during an internship. Focus on your other skills and factors that make you immediately productive. You wouldn’t want to wait 6 months to start enjoying your movie channel if you purchased the movie package. The same goes for employers who don’t want to wait for six months before you deliver benefits to them. Concentrate on what you can do for the company, not on what the company can do for you.

What about all those common interview questions that you keep hearing and possibly stumbling over? Treat those tricky questions like a sales call and as if your salary depended on making that sale. “Why should I hire you?” would be the same as “Why should I buy from you?” Well, why? Tell your interviewer that you will be getting more than just a product (you). They would also be getting quality work, dedication, drive, and intelligence. Developing a storytelling flair will also go further in an interview when faced with those questions. Everyone loves a good story. It doesn’t mean you need to become a chatterbox, but your interviewer was interested enough in you to interview you in the first place. Be sure to prepare short little true stories that support your claims of relevant skills and accomplishments.

Better yet, become your own leading salesperson by mastering a one-to-two-minute “commercial” about yourself. In sales, commercials are meant to intrigue the client when asked the standard, “What do you do?” or “Tell me about yourself.” Almost certainly you will be asked to respond to some version of the “Tell me about yourself” question during an interview or even when you are out and about in networking groups. Memorize a short description of your background (education, experience, and skills) that matches your strengths to the job or any job in which you are seeking. Be sure to also add a sentence or two about your curiosity, commitment, and drive to move mountains above your already amazing skills base.

As with every new challenge you face, practice will make perfect. Stand in front of a mirror and rehearse these new tips or even try recording yourself and playing it back for you to review. Ask a friend, professor, or career advisor to go over some practice interview questions to get you to the point where you are truly comfortable. On-campus interviews are also available for your benefit, so take advantage of each bidding session. Soon, your ease and confidence will speak for themselves during your next interview (Spring 2014 for 1Ls) and you will soon make your first sale – you!

Law firms using new interview techniques

During the economic downtown, some firms have begun to use new interview techniques to assess candidates.  There has been discussion of identifying core competencies and utilizing more behavioral interview questions.  Check out this recent article by Vivia Chen about the firm McKenna Long & Aldridge who has begun using psychological testing in the interview process.  The lesson for students: take the time to fully prepare for your interviews!  This means not only researching the employer, but also spending time up front doing the necessary self-assessment to be fully aware of your own values, skills, and interests.

NC Law School Interview Program- March 12 & 19, 2011

Wake Forest University School of Law will co-host the North Carolina Law School Interview Program, which includes, two job fairs and a resume collect only opportunity for NC legal employers.  The Eastern NC Job Fair will take place on Saturday, March 19, 2011 at the NC Bar Center in Cary, NC and the Western NC Job Fair will take place on Saturday, March 12, 2011 at Charlotte School of Law in Charlotte, NC. (Note: The Western NC Job Fair falls on the weekend of your spring break. Please make sure you are able to attend BEFORE bidding.) Wake law students interested in participating should go to Symplicity and filter for the Sessions entitled “Spring ’11 – Job Fair – Eastern NC Job Fair”, “Spring ’11 – Job Fair – Western NC Job Fair”, and if interested in bidding to NC employers who are only collecting resumes, filter for “Spring ’11 NC Job Fair Resume Collect Only”.

The deadline to submit your bids to all three opportunities is Friday, February 4, 2011 at 12NOON EST. Please do not wait until the last minute to place your bids as the system may experience slowdowns with heavy traffic close to the deadline.

Increase in Behavioral Interviewing by Law Firms

There is a renewed emphasis on behavioral interviewing in law firm hiring this year.  Check out an article by Gina Passarella that appears today in The Legal Intelligencer  discussing this very topic.

Show Off Your 'Emotional Intelligence' During the Legal Recruiting Process

In the July 20th issue of the New York Law Journal, Alison Bernard and Niki Kopsidas discuss a concept that is getting more and more attention from legal employers – “Emotional Intelligence”.  In a tight job market, legal employers are looking for ways to determine which candidates will not only excel in the academic practice of law, but who also possess the “soft skills” necessary to build strong client relationships.  Read their article to learn more about “EI”, and how students can demonstrate it in the interview process and develop it while in law school.

New Approaches to Getting a Law Firm Job

In the November 25th issue of The National Law Journal, Steven Bennett, a partner in the New York City offices of Jones Day, offers suggestions to help job-seekers “adapt to the new recruitment practices” of law firms brought on by the economic downturn.  Read the article to get his tips.

1L Mock Interview Program

 Would you like to have an opportunity to polish your interviewing skills before interviewing for summer positions?
Are you wondering what types of questions interviewers will ask for legal positions?

The Mock Interview Program offers 1Ls an opportunity to practice their interviewing skills.  Attorneys from local firms conduct the interviews and offer students feedback afterwards.  Interviews are typically 15 minutes, with a 5 minute feedback conversation to follow.

Mock interviews will take place on January 19 and 20, 2010 from 4:00 – 6:00 pm.  In early January, students will sign up for a single interview slot on one of the two nights.  But, in order to set up the program and recruit the correct number of interviewers, ADVANCE REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED!  If you would like to participate in the January Mock Interview Program, you must RSVP in Symplicity by Monday, November 30, 2009.

LexisNexis Job Search Webinar

Lexis is offering a webinar on Monday, November 9 from 3-4:00 pm entitled “Getting the Job: Using LexisNexis to Secure Employment”.  You will learn how to use the professional networking, job finding and interview preparation resources available to you through LexisNexis® and Martindale-Hubbell.  Register online.

10 Dating Rules That Can Also Help You in a Job Interview

Diana Rubin, Managing Director in Major, Lindsey & Africa’s D.C. office, wrote an entertaining article last month offering tips for interview success.  She suggests that the rules for succeeding in the dating world and in the job market are more similar than you might think.  Read her article to find out how!