Posted: July 17th, 2015
As Fall On-Campus Recruiting season draws near, students will soon feel the excitement of having a legal job interview. The excitement also rings true for recent grads still in the market for a position after taking the July bar exam. However, once the initial excitement of landing the interview wears off, two questions are sure to follow: What should I wear? And: What should I bring?
As far as the ‘what to wear’ part, the rules for men and women are similar: always err on the conservative side. With very few exceptions, your number one dress choice for a legal interview should be a suit. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed on such an occasion. Here are some tips to remember as you prepare for the big day:
- Make sure everything fits properly. Make sure nothing is too tight, or too loose, too long or too short. For women, check skirt length carefully, and ensure there’s no excessive “button gap” on button-down shirts (look from the side in the mirror). If you need changes, enlist a tailor to make alterations or ask for help in the store as you’re trying things on. These people are trained to make you look good!
- Get rid of wrinkles. You can have the nicest interview outfit in the world, and it’s going to look lousy if it’s full of wrinkles. If you are traveling to interviews, think about how you’re going to keep everything clean and pressed. Will you iron in the hotel? Do you need to send things out? Is a travel steamer the answer? There are lots of options, but waking up the morning of your interview and realizing your shirts are a mess isn’t ideal!
- Buy decent shoes. At a minimum, your shoes should match your suit (and pay attention to socks) and be leather or leather-like. For the ladies, closed-toe shoes paired with nylons are best. Think conservative!
- This is not a time to make a statement. A job interview is the worst place to try and make a statement about your brave personal style. The hiring manager is looking for someone who is grounded. They are looking for someone that will show up every day, ensure great work and fit in with the rest of the office. Make sure your clothes reflect that value.
- Check your hairstyle. For the men, go conservative with the hair — yes, this means getting a traditional haircut. A classic taper is the best option, or something similar that is at least short on the sides and back, but long enough for some versatility when not interviewing. Keep in mind that hair will always grow back, so it may be to your advantage to get a haircut now that will look good to perspective employers. Once you get the job you can always grow it back if you can.
Once you’re appropriately attired, it’s time to think about what to bring. Women have a bit of an advantage here, because they often carry a bag or purse. But, for men and women, a nice portfolio is useful for carrying copies of all application documents: résumé, writing sample, transcripts, references, etc. Always bring copies! You can’t assume your interviewer will have them.
Bring any personal care items you might need: gum, mints, a toothbrush (if you’re coming for a meal), extra hosiery, eyedrops, touch-up makeup, etc. And don’t forget directions (including parking locations, if you’re driving). You’ll probably also be bringing your cell phone, but be sure to turn it off or put it in airplane mode before the interview.
With these tips in mind, you will look great and be well-prepared to handle your upcoming legal interview. Best of luck this fall and with all your future interviews!