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Going In-House

The Interview Process

Competition for in-house jobs is intense. A good in-house position at a known company can easily generate more than 100 resume submissions and result in 20 interviews. The top seven or eight candidates are then invited for the second round of interviews, three or four for the third round, and so forth. The further along you are in the interviewing process, the less people you will be competing with.

In-house interviewers place greater emphasis on your personality and prior work experience. Thus your ultimate goal is to convince them that you have a great personality and that they can benefit from your skills and experience. Depending on the company's size, you may have as few as one or as many as five callbacks. You are also likely to meet most of the people who will work with you directly. During a particularly intensive interviewing process, you can also expect to meet the higher-ups at the company.

Do not be surprised if you meet the same attorneys in each round of interviews. This often happens if there is a question about your candidacy, and the interviewers want to meet you again to determine how they can advocate effectively on your behalf (if they like you), or whether they should support your candidacy at all (if they are on the fence). Just act naturally and put your best foot forward each time.

It is also not uncommon to be interviewed by attorneys who have less seniority than you do. You can score major points with them by researching their bios and including a bit of flattery in your interviews. Additionally, because junior lawyers seek out people who will be good mentors, remember to discuss your mentorship style, the type and quality of work you would be willing to delegate, and the amount of feedback you would offer. Finally, treat everyone, including junior attorneys and support staff, with utmost respect. Exhibiting arrogance to interviewees or failing to acknowledge secretaries can easily cost you an offer.

The job titles and duties of in-house interviewers vary from company to company. Know what they are, and be aware of the reporting structure. If it turns out that your interviewer is high up in the reporting structure but you have more years of experience, you should proactively address this issue with that interviewer. Specifically, you must convince him or her that (1) you will not be a threat, (2) you are comfortable with the reporting structure, and (3) you are okay with working for someone less senior. Here is one way to address it: “I understand I will be reporting to you. At this stage of my career, it is important for me to get along with my team and do a challenging job. I am not looking to move up rapidly or be a superstar. I am easy to get along with, and I have no problem with this reporting structure.”

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw Job InterviewsGoing In-House - Unique Aspects Of In-house Positions, The Interview Process, The Importance Of Homework, Personality Fit