1) Everything on your resume is fair game. That’s right. Even your law school internships and that marketing job you had for two years between college and law school are fair game in an interview. If you’ve listed it, you need to be prepared to answer questions about it.
2) The questions you ask are just as important as the answers you give. Many candidates win points with interviewers by giving strong, well thought out answers only to lose those points by asking bad questions. Make sure they’re appropriate and that at least some of them serve to illustrate that you’re a top quality candidate.
3) Practice talking aloud about your work experience until your answers are clear and concise. When you haven’t thought about a deal or a case in some time, it’s always best to go over it out loud to make sure your explanation comes across in a clear and concise way. Also, sometimes a deal or case can be so complex, or your role so substantive, that when the time comes you don’t even know where to start. That’s where a mirror, a friend or spouse, or your recruiter comes in handy. Go back to your law school days of IRAC and make sure you can relay to the interviewer a few short, concise statements about what the issue was, the applicable law and its application, and the outcome. Most importantly be sure to highlight any significant role you had.
4) Never let a tough interview or question throw you off for the rest of your lineup. You can never know for sure if a seemingly difficult interviewer had a bad day, is distracted by a work emergency, or is, in fact, difficult. The only thing you can be sure about is that one difficult interview or question might not sink your candidacy. However, taking that negative energy into the rest of your interviews will certainly take you out of contention. Remain positive, brush it off, and stay on your A game. Many times it’s a salvageable situation.
5) As a lateral it’s all about what you bring to the table-not what the firm/company can do for you. You’re not an incoming first year anymore. While you need to convey why you think the firm/company makes sense for the next phase of your career, you should be prepared to focus on what skills and experiences you bring to the table.
6) Brag, brag, brag. I know it can be uncomfortable to brag about yourself but an interview is a 30 minute chance for you to sell yourself. If you don’t illustrate for the interviewer why you’re the best person for the job, who will? For a more subtle approach, find opportunities to highlight your positives in the questions you’re asked. For example-When an interviewer asks what you’re working on lately, use your response to not only explain your current work load, but to highlight any significant responsibility you have been given on the matter, or positive feedback from clients and higher-ups.
7) If you’re talking about basketball for 30 minutes, don’t expect a call back. Again, it’s your responsibility to make sure you sell yourself to the firm or company and relay why they should hire you. It’s great if you have something in common with an interviewer or something unique on your resume, but if you’re using all of your precious interview time to bond, the interviewer never gets a sense of what experience and skills you bring to the table.
8) Be consistent with your Q&A. You may feel like a robot asking each interviewer the same questions and giving each interviewer the same answers to theirs. However, giving consistent answers will ensure each interviewer has a similar picture of your candidacy which can make the process of deciding whether to hire you that much easier. Also, asking each interviewer some of the same questions can help you learn if there’s consistency amongst the department you’re thinking of joining.
9) Plan out long interviews. If you have three hours of interviewing ahead, plan accordingly. Try and get a good night’s sleep so you’re not exhausted by the final interview. Also, make sure you’ve had a nutritious meal before the interview so you’re not light headed, starving, or sluggish toward the end of your lineup.
10) Connect the dots. For those retooling or looking to specialize or broaden their practice: while you never want to oversell your experience or outright misrepresent your skill set, when interviewing for a job outside of your current practice focus you must connect the dots for the interviewer. You cannot expect them to know why your background is relevant. It is your job to explain why your past experiences, education, and careers would allow you to transition smoothly to their practice.