How to Do Your Homework
Educate Yourself About Practice Areas
Firms often do different types of work in different offices. When your interviewer asks “Why do you want to join us?” or “What type of work are you interested in doing?” you should be able to articulate something better than “Your firm has a great reputation.” If you have a specific interest in, say, Russian capital markets or international arbitration, it may be useful to know whether the firm's Phoenix office (in which you have indicated a strong interest) does that sort of thing. At the callback stage, there is no greater threat to your offer than not knowing what your interviewer and his or her colleagues do.
Brian was interested in Asia/Pacific Rim work and Islamic finance—both, no doubt, interesting and rewarding practices in which some attorneys at this firm could have specialized. Unfortunately, these attorneys did not work in the office where Brian was applying. The interviewer's immediate reaction was, “Why are you here? Shouldn't you be interviewing with some other office or a firm that does that?”
Your interviewers should not have to explain to you what their firm does, especially at the callback stage. This is especially true for small-firm and government positions. Most of the time, this information is publicly available online. Even if you have little time, spend at least a few minutes on Google and on the firm's Website prior to the interview to ensure that you are familiar with the firm's practice areas and your interviewers. Never leave your interviewers with a feeling that they just wasted precious, otherwise billable time on reciting publicly available information.
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