How to Do Your Homework
The Interviewer's Biography
Knowing the facts about the interviewer can have its perks.
Charlotte once noticed that her interviewer listed gourmet cooking as one of his hobbies on the firm's Website. It so happened that Charlotte had an interest in that area as well. Knowing about the interviewer's passion, Charlotte brought up gourmet cooking during the interview. Their previously dry conversation took a pleasant turn to a discussion about Northern Italian cuisine. Charlotte got a callback the next day.
Your level of research and preparation will vary. During on-campus interviews, you may get away with knowing just the basics—the firm's profile, the interviewer's name, where he or she went to law school and undergrad, and any other interesting information listed on the firm's Website. During callbacks and lateral interviews, however, you are expected to know more. Of course, if you are very interested in a job, be thoroughly prepared.
If you are interviewing with a small firm that does not have a Website (which is rare), or if you just want to know the basics about your interviewer's bio, you can consult Martindale-Hubble, a reliable lawyer locator, which contains the basic facts about credentials, practice areas, and contact information. It is fine to conduct a basic search, but know enough about your interviewer not to ask the obvious questions. Do not ask where he or she went to school or what his or her practice area is. You are expected to know this.
On the other hand, if you are very well-prepared, be careful not to sound like a stalker. Although it is a good idea to Google your interviewer, do not ask him or her about personal details (trips, children, and so on). If, for example, you read an article by your interviewer in which he relates he is a cat lover, you may not want to ask him about his cats just yet. Before he realizes where you obtained this information, he may feel a little uneasy about your knowledge of such personal details. Ideally, you will find a way to strike up a conversation about cats without admitting you know about his interests. Just be careful not to pry, and never recite any facts that your interviewer may find embarrassing.
Lynda once interviewed a senior partner for an in-house position at Lynda's company. The partner's preparedness impressed Lynda, and she was flattered when the partner revealed that she researched Lynda online. But when the partner mentioned that she found Lynda's photo on a certain blog, Lynda couldn't help but feel embarrassed. She instantly realized that the photo was a risqué picture of her from her younger days. For the rest of the interview, Lynda was thinking about the embarrassing photo instead of focusing on her interviewee.
Doing your homework about your interviewer is important, but presenting it in the right way is crucial. Occasional flattery is appreciated; open, persistent compliments, done for the sake of getting an offer, are not. So by all means talk about your interviewer and flatter him or her, but sound genuine.
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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw Job InterviewsHow to Do Your Homework - Educate Yourself About Practice Areas, Transactional Vs. Litigation, Pick An Area, Sources Of Information