You have gotten an interview – congratulations! Now you need to prepare. In addition to figuring out how to get to this interview on time, and what to wear, you also need to think about what you are going to say. What information about yourself do you want to convey to your interviewer? What information is most relevant? In speaking with many interviewers over the years – below are some universal criteria that interviewers are assessing:
- Do You Have The Relevant Experience? Do you have it? If so, is this experience reflected on your current resume? While you can always bring an updated resume to your interview, it is unlikely your interviewer will take the time to read it. You need to work any and all of your relevant experience into your conversation. While bragging likely will not get you far, confidence in your skill set and an understanding of how your practice fits with the opportunity you are pursuing will go a long way.
- What Is Your Work Style? While this is difficult to assess, many firms and companies do try to get a sense of this in an interview. They may ask directly about your management or leadership style, they may ask how you would respond to a certain scenario or how you resolved a difficult conflict in your current position. You should be prepared to answer questions like these and to offer up this type of information in a conversational manner, even if your interviewer doesn’t explicitly ask.
- Have You Done Your Research? You should research the potential employer and the person who will be conducting your interview. Do you understand what the company or law firm does and the legal issues this law firm or legal group handles? Do you understand your interviewer’s job and place within the organization? While you don’t want your interviewer to feel stalked, you do want him/her to see that you did your homework.
- Does Your Story Make Sense? Your interviewer will likely ask a list of questions based on your resume. Don’t make your interviewer beg for information. Tell your story in a concise and focused manner. Highlight events that are relevant. If you have gaps, lay-offs or confusing aspects to your work history, this is the time to address them. While you should not dwell on these facts, you should include them in your story.
- Could You be “Work Friends”? While most interviewers are not looking for a new best friend, they are looking for a co-worker that is smart, respectful and trustworthy. If you happen to have similar interests, that is a bonus. What does this mean for you, the interviewee? Try not to be overly polished, slick or aloof. Let your interviewer get a glimpse of your real personality.
- Do You Answer The Questions Asked? This is important for several reasons. First, the interviewer wants to know if you are an active listener. Second, your interviewer actually wants an answer – so don’t sidestep tough questions. Being honest and straightforward is key, and the ability to communicate directly and effectively is a skill that every attorney needs to have.
Preparing for an interview is not easy, but it is absolutely necessary. Even if you are great “off the cuff,” there are a number of things you will need to contemplate, research and rehearse (yes, out loud) before you walk through that door. The good news is that interviewing is a skill that can be honed and improved with practice. So grab a friend, a mirror, or even your dog – and make sure you are prepared to the best of your ability.