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On-Campus Interviews

Interview Structure

Unless your interviewer takes charge of the interview, it is your job to budget your time wisely. Ideally, you should spend the first 15 minutes talking about yourself and about your interviewer, and save the remaining 5 minutes for asking questions.

If you do not click with your interviewer, it may become difficult to maintain the right structure. During interviews filled with awkward silences, the interviewer may ask you, “So, what can I tell you about my firm?” This question is bad for at least three reasons: first, it does not help you sell yourself; second, the interviewer does not seem to show much interest in you; third, if you start asking questions about the firm so early into the interview, you may run out of questions before the interview is over. Try to prevent this by being an engaging conversationalist, by listening carefully and following up, and by learning to fill awkward silences. If your interviewer asks if you have any questions early in the interview, go ahead and ask a few.

In an inauspicious start to the interview, the interviewer asked Holly, “So, what can I tell you about the firm?” Startled, Holly asked, “Are you hiring litigators?” He said, “Yes—good ones. Are you good?” Holly floundered for a moment, but, deciding it was not the time to be modest, said, “I am! Let me tell you why….”

As you can see, telling a story, sharing similar experiences, or using the interviewer's answers to describe how you can excel at the firm are all excellent ways to bring the interview back to yourself. And always remember to interject a few selling points into the interview to help convince your interviewer that you are a strong candidate.

Just as importantly, do not ask questions about the firm prematurely on your own initiative. Try to find common ground with your interviewer by discussing other things besides your credentials. And if you are having a great time talking about the weather, baseball, law school, or whatever tickles your mutual fancy, continue doing so. That way, when the interview ends, your interviewer will feel as though the time flew by, and that there were still things that he or she wanted to talk about. You want to leave your interviewer with this feeling because he or she will then want to meet you again and give you a callback. Simply put, just as you would on a first date, you want to leave your interviewer wanting more.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw Job InterviewsOn-Campus Interviews - Try To Stand Out, Interview Structure, Protocol