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The Interviewing Process: A Survival Guide for Recent Law School Graduates


A. Harrison Barnes

Graduating from law school is certainly a job in itself… now it’s time to take the next step–landing that dream position! The interviewing process can be an extremely daunting task; while being able to sell yourself to a particular firm is, of course, the primary goal; there lies a plethora of guidelines every recent law school graduate should follow.

In order to attain that first interview, your resume and cover letter will be the first impression a hiring authority will have of you; these documents need to be flawless, as there is no room for error. Once the interview date has been set, intense preparation should follow. This includes researching the firm’s area of expertise, its well-established track record and gathering as much information about the person you will be interviewing with are all key factors a candidate should gather beforehand. Being prepared with detailed questions to ask the hiring authority is vital to a successful interview. The specificity and detail of these questions should be given a great amount of thought and, in turn, will demonstrate to the firm that you have done your homework. The day has finally arrived… the interview is only a few hours away. You have completed the needed preparation and are beaming with confidence.

Dress for Success-this cannot be overemphasized enough. This will be the first time you will be meeting your potential employer and you want to make a lasting impression. From your enthusiasm about the opportunity to what you wear on the interview are all taking into account and analyzed by the interviewer. Making sure your suit is neatly pressed and your tie is stain-free is just as important as what you say during this time. Other non-verbal communication such as your posture, handshake and maintaining eye contact are crucial as well. Nervous gestures, although understandable given the situation, need to be curtailed too.

Once the series of questions have begun, your answers need to be well-defined and thorough in order to demonstrate how you will be an asset to the firm. Although saying you pay close attention to detail and have a strong work-ethic are important, it is recommended that you apply these qualities to experiences you’ve had in the past (i.e. summer internships, clerkships, etc.). This will allow the firm to see how you handle different situations and obstacles when they do arise. By doing so, the firm is able to gain more insight into your character and abilities to successfully get the job done.

The interview is coming to an end and you have eloquently articulated why you deserve the position. Although many law firms require multiple interviews before an offer is made, you should always close the interview by asking for the job. This simply reiterates your strong desire towards the firm, while demonstrating a certain level of confidence on your part. The last step, and one that is commonly overlooked, is sending a thank you note to the firm for their time and consideration. This simple gesture adds a personal touch and distinguishes you among those other candidates.

By following these guidelines, your odds of a successful interviewing campaign may greatly increase.

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I wanted to move to a different state, where I am unlicensed. I wasn't sure how to inquire about work there, so I turned to Legal Authority. I received two job offers in the new area!
- Richard

Please put this on your site, because I think it can help others. I struggled through school at a bottom tier school with great difficulty. I am 43 years old, wife and mother, and while I was studying...
- Linda

I am Class of 2003 and I have barely any legal experience, most of it took place in foreign countries. So far I have 4 interviews. Thanks, I was pretty nervous.
- Aaron

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