2 minute read

Going In-House

Personality Fit

In-house employers are concerned not only about your credentials and experience, but also about your versatility, good judgment, and cultural fit. You can easily get an offer from a firm even if one of the interviewers recommends against it, but this will not happen in-house. If a single in-house interviewer does not like you, this is a death knell for your future at the company. This is because in-house positions are longer term, and in-house attorneys work very closely with each other on a daily basis. When they meet with you, the first question the attorneys will ask themselves is, “Can I go to lunch, travel, or have a beer with this person?” This is why it is so important to connect with your interviewers on a personal level and discuss common interests and hobbies.

Tuck away your sense of entitlement. Legal recruiters say that the biggest problem with qualified job applicants (who are otherwise strong candidates) is arrogance. Because they have excelled in all prior phases of their careers, they expect increasingly elite opportunities when it comes to in-house positions. If you think in-house employers would be lucky to have you, you will almost always fail. As one prominent recruiter (who frequently places candidates in the most coveted in-house positions) puts it, “Hundreds of Cravath-level lawyers are competing for a much smaller number of jobs. No matter how great you are, you are competing with five clones of you. So you better be damn enthusiastic about why you want this in-house position.”

You cannot fake enthusiasm during an in-house interview. These people know they will have to work side by side with you for many years to come, and they are watching you very closely. If you really want to be successful, you must first convince yourself that you are truly excited about this opportunity. This should not be difficult—people can learn to get excited about even the most boring things (just think of an ERISA or tax lawyer who loves his or her job).

In short, treat this interview as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Never allow an inflated sense of self-worth or outside distractions jeopardize your chances. Interview at the first available opportunity, and never cancel your interview once you had scheduled it because you never know when and whether you will get another chance. This is true even under the most extenuating circumstances: Whether you are very ill or your case is going to trial, in-house employers may not be forgiving about a perceived lack of commitment.

Harvey had scheduled an interview for the in-house position of his dreams right before he was staffed on an important deal. Knowing he should not cancel the interview, Harvey showed up. Although he managed to give a great performance, he committed an incredible mistake when he asked his interviewer if he could check his BlackBerry. Of course the interviewer agreed, but he called Harvey's recruiter shortly after the interview to inform him this was the only reason Harvey was not getting an offer. “If only he had excused himself to the bathroom and quietly checked his BlackBerry there, this would never be an issue,” he said, obviously regretting losing such a great candidate.

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