Job interviews aren’t a walk in the park. Even after you’ve bagged the crème de la crème of law degree distinctions you will still need to master the art of interviews to land your dream job at law firms. All it takes is a good first impressions.
The 20 seconds rule states that when you meet people for the first time, people will judge you by the first 20 words, gesture and anything else you do or say within that time. Your interviews are no different considering the fact that interviewers have packed schedules to follow, plus other job candidates on the waiting list to interview. So it is important you know the possible don’ts within that short time frame you’ll be spending with them. Here are a few.
(1) Never appear unprepared
This may sound trite, but you can ignore it at your own peril. Many hiring managers ask simple questions about the law firm, its mission, the name of founders, managing partners and the likes. To avoid getting blindsided by such questions, do an in-depth research on the interviewing law firm. Scour its official website and social media pages for minute details you can arm yourself with.
(2) Avoid poor body language
As part of the 20 seconds rule we just talked about, most interviewers will consider your fitness for the specific job by whether your gestures demonstrate professionalism. So use the first few minutes as a lifeline to create a positive connection with the interviewer. Look them in the eye as you talk, sit upright in your sit and avoid fidgeting or doing anything else that would seem distracting.
(3) Never talk badly about a former employer
If you’ve worked for a former employer, it’s important you don’t criticize them. Well, your former employers may have run rough shod over you but never use your interview as an opportunity to settle old scores or bad mouth your former employer. Keep everything on a professional note and avoid speaking about your former employer in very bad light.
(4) Never play down your achievements
Hiring managers won’t hire you if you don’t sell yourself to them within the first few seconds you are opportune. Let everything you do or say exude confidence. Be very confident about your achievements but don’t get too cocky. Clearly connect the dots between your experience and skills to the position at hand. An interview is never the time to be humble, nervous or uncertain. Tell them how you think you are a good fit for the job.
(5) Don’t be disrespectful to the interviewer
Being disrespectful to the interviewer intentionally or inadvertently is something you mustn’t do. Avoid talking excessively or interrupting the interviewer and possibly the use of swear words. Also avoid arguing with them.
(6) Never tell a lie about your previous accomplishments.
Be on the level with your interviewer and do not try to spin them a yarn. If you do, the truth will out and then you’d be done for.
(7) Know exactly what you will do for them
Every law firm you’re interviewing with will have one problem or the other they need sorting out. So before you arrive for your interview find out some of those challenges they are struggling with and be prepared to tell your interviewer how you can help them solve it. Lawyers get paid not so much for what they know as for what they actually do. So unless you demonstrate your problem solving ability as a lawyer to a prospective employer, you might be seen as yet another drain on the firms shoestring budget. And hence, a liability to be eschewed
Whether you’re a seasoned lawyer interviewing for a new position in another law firm or a fresh law graduate looking to kickstart your career with a coveted associate position at a big law firm, these tips are a must for a successful law interview. So ensure you have them at your finger tips at every moment of the interview. Good luck.
A youngish lawyer with penetrating insight, Patrick Herbert is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Lawstudenthub, a site dedicated to helping new wigs find their footing in a trickily slippery legal profession and stay current with emerging developments in the legal industry. He holds an LLB from the University of Benin and a BL from the Nigerian Law School, Abuja. In his spare time, Patrick doubles as a professional writer and copyeditor.
If you have any urgent enquiries, you can email him @[email protected]