Job Interview Tips for Law Grads
Well, you made it through law school. By now, you’ve probably heard this joke: What do you call a student who finishes dead last in his law class? You guessed it: “Esquire.” Ultimately, your class rank pales in comparison to how you rank with an interviewer. Unless you rank #1 there, you’re back to sending out resumes and waiting tables.
So what does it take to stand out?
Faisal Kutty, an assistant professor of law at Valparaiso University, brings an insider’s perspective to this question. Kutty once served as a managing partner of a small law firm, where he interviewed and hired law grads. In his experience, two skills set candidates apart: Salesmanship and research.
When it comes to selling yourself, Kutty urges candidates to “tell your story.” By that, he means defining exactly what makes you different from everyone else who applied. “The specifics may not be so out-of-the-ordinary,” Kutty observes, “but the meaning and implication you attach to it may be what sets you apart.”
For example, he relates one situation where a candidate, considered mediocre on paper, proved to be an invaluable asset:
“One of the last persons I hired did not have the highest grades, best resume or a pedigree of distinction. But he was very active and well known within a particular circle of people who were important for the practice to tap into. The established lawyers in the firm had their networks but he had access to a niche group that was out of reach to the rest of us. He aggressively pitched me on being the one who could help the firm to attract clients from his network. He focused on his extensive social network, access and documented his leadership roles within this group. He convinced me that he could be the bridge to a new generation of potential clients.”
As law school graduates, applicants are also expected to be strong researchers. As a result, any candidate who isn’t fully versed on a firm’s specialties, clients, and culture will immediately raise red flags. Even more, interviewers will expect candidates to ask discerning questions and deliver succinct, meaningful answers.
To research a prospective employer (along with interviewers and direct supervisors), Kutty prescribes the usual outlets—company websites, social media outlets (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube), and Google searches—to find recent news and potential dirt (i.e. Glassdoor). To get the real scoop, Kutty advises students to work possible connections, such as acquaintances who might work at targeted employers. He also encourages students to take advantage of their schools’ career placement offices. “They may have a list of alumni who work there or even hold a senior position,” he says. “If you are in luck, then call them, email them, or send them a LinkedIn message and ask them for assistance or guidance.”
Finally, Kutty recommends that candidates weave their research into their answers. “Studies have documented that people hire those who are similar to them or remind them of themselves,” he points out. “Depending on the interviewer, this may mean focusing on a mutual acquaintance, the same school or background, similar hobbies, overlapping interests, etc. Establishing a personal connection with an interviewer may help when the interviewer is trying to narrow down the list in her own head.”
Source: Huffington Post
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