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Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:18 pm
by 20160810
Here's the deal: I have my first OCI interview in a few days (big firm, other than that I don't really want to give much away since I don't have much anonymity on TLS) and obviously I'd like to do well. This will be my first law firm interview ever, so I don't really know what to expect.

Any tips that you guys can offer/examples of questions and answers/etc. would really be helpful to me.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:28 pm
by jennylynn
Buy Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams. It's handy. :)

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:47 pm
by Jessep
Know your resume and be able to talk about your 1L summer job and 1L. They will ask you how you liked 1L, what classes you enjoyed, etc. It is always good to be positive throughout the entire interview.

Be able to articulate why you went to law school, any particular interests (though it is PERFECTLY OK to not know what type of law you want to practice), and why this particular firm. To answer the last question, I would state the reasons for my interest in the particular market, and then focus on firm specifics. Be able to answer the question "tell me about yourself". In answering this, you should subtly plug why you are a good candidate (good undergrad, relevant work experience, interesting tidbit about yourself that is not too quirky). Also, be able to state your strengths and a weakness (though this is an uncommon question in my experience).

In terms of differentiating firms, focus upon the size of the summer class, practice groups, partner/associate ratio, firm reputation and look at the firms marketing materials. How do they run their summer program? Be able to spin why each particularity in a positive light (e.g. low partner/associate ratio means more interaction with partners, larger summer class can mean getting to know more people, small class can mean more intimate setting, etc.).

Look at your interviewer's bio and try to find something to talk about. Don't be creepy about stalking them, but feel free to ask about anything on their bio.

Have questions for the interviewer. Go in with more than you might need in case they leave a lot of room for questions. Read their website first so you do not ask questions that can be answered by reading their website (e.g. ask about mentoring program for the summer, how they assign projects over the summer, whether you can rotate between departments, etc. but this info is often available on their website). Questions unlikely to be on the website might be something like, why did you choose X firm, ask them to describe the work environment or personality that they look for in incoming associates, or the amount of client interaction they have and at what point an associate begins to interact with clients. You can also ask them how they typically staff a case/transaction (1 partner, 10 associates? 1 partner, 2 associates?).

In terms of dress, go conservative. If you are unsure if it is appropriate it probably is not. Look the interviewer in the eye, arrive early so you aren't sweating, sit up straight and you can check your breath. Smile, and be charming. If you are introverted suck it up and pretend like you are meeting your hero. You should be excited about each and every interview.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:48 pm
by emoticons777
Firms generally send personable people to OCI/interviews. I found that all of my interviewers (but one) were very nice and essentially talked half of the time. In fact, I was really pleasantly surprised with how easy it ended up being. I only had a few where they asked the "behavioral" type questions. Try to pick a few things (experiences, positions, responsibilities, etc.) you want to emphasize, and whenever you answer a question try to stick within those bounds. This helps because it means you already know what you want to talk about (so you sound better) and it gives them a solid picture of you. Smile.

Edit: Also, when they ask you what you want to do - just say litigation or transactional. They probably wont believe you if you give them something really specific. Ex., I just said "I really enjoyed the litigation aspect of XX work I did this summer, but I want to be able to experience other areas of law. It would probably be foolish of me to try to definitively say what I want to do for the rest of my life after only one year of law school." That usually satisfied them, and got a smile.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:19 pm
by Jessep
emoticons777 wrote:Edit: Also, when they ask you what you want to do - just say litigation or transactional. They probably wont believe you if you give them something really specific. Ex., I just said "I really enjoyed the litigation aspect of XX work I did this summer, but I want to be able to experience other areas of law. It would probably be foolish of me to try to definitively say what I want to do for the rest of my life after only one year of law school." That usually satisfied them, and got a smile.

I would not be so specific even to say litigation or transaction. They may not project a need for a transactional or litigation associate. Unless you are 100% set upon one (which 99% of law students should not be because they do not know what it means to be either), I would express interests in particular areas if you can articulate why (e.g. I worked at a litigation firm this past summer and really enjoyed it) but say that you are open to learning about other areas.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:22 pm
by 20160810
Wow. Jessep, A+ post. Thank you sir/ma'am.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:25 pm
by Jessep
Happy to help. If you have any further questions feel free to shoot (happy to talk via PM too). The only reason I was prepared for my OCI interviews is because people helped me understand what to expect. Giving back is the least I can do.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:29 pm
by rbgrocio
SBL wrote:Here's the deal: I have my first OCI interview in a few days (big firm, other than that I don't really want to give much away since I don't have much anonymity on TLS) and obviously I'd like to do well. This will be my first law firm interview ever, so I don't really know what to expect.

Any tips that you guys can offer/examples of questions and answers/etc. would really be helpful to me.


What did u do this summer? You did not interview with any law firms to get a summer job for your first year?

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:31 pm
by 20160810
rbgrocio wrote:
SBL wrote:Here's the deal: I have my first OCI interview in a few days (big firm, other than that I don't really want to give much away since I don't have much anonymity on TLS) and obviously I'd like to do well. This will be my first law firm interview ever, so I don't really know what to expect.

Any tips that you guys can offer/examples of questions and answers/etc. would really be helpful to me.


What did u do this summer? You did not interview with any law firms to get a summer job for your first year?

I was a RA this summer. And I go to UC Davis. Firm jobs for 1Ls are like unicorns, only rarer (except for those diversity fellowships, which are a super sweet deal, except that I'm a bit too pale for most of them).

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:33 pm
by deneuve39
Jessep wrote:
emoticons777 wrote:Edit: Also, when they ask you what you want to do - just say litigation or transactional. They probably wont believe you if you give them something really specific. Ex., I just said "I really enjoyed the litigation aspect of XX work I did this summer, but I want to be able to experience other areas of law. It would probably be foolish of me to try to definitively say what I want to do for the rest of my life after only one year of law school." That usually satisfied them, and got a smile.

I would not be so specific even to say litigation or transaction. They may not project a need for a transactional or litigation associate. Unless you are 100% set upon one (which 99% of law students should not be because they do not know what it means to be either), I would express interests in particular areas if you can articulate why (e.g. I worked at a litigation firm this past summer and really enjoyed it) but say that you are open to learning about other areas.


I actually think interviewers prefer if you give them something to go on. This was the one question I was asked in every interview, and although Jessep is right that they definitely do not expect you to know which practice area to do, the conversation would fall flat if you answered the question "Do you have a sense of what practice areas your interested in?" with only saying, "I'm not really sure, but I'm open to trying different things out." It gives the interviewer more to talk about if you say something like, "I actually am looking to try a lot of different areas out, but I thinkantitrust/general corporate work/commercial lit/white collar lit seems interesting. I saw that you started in [antitrust], how did you end up choosing that practice area?"

By answering this question more substantively, you show the interviewer that 1) you know which practice areas are strong at the firm and that they exist (more applicable to narrower areas like white collar) and 2) you are interested in practicing law and in finding out more about what a specific practice area does.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:34 pm
by rbgrocio
SBL wrote:
rbgrocio wrote:
SBL wrote:Here's the deal: I have my first OCI interview in a few days (big firm, other than that I don't really want to give much away since I don't have much anonymity on TLS) and obviously I'd like to do well. This will be my first law firm interview ever, so I don't really know what to expect.

Any tips that you guys can offer/examples of questions and answers/etc. would really be helpful to me.


What did u do this summer? You did not interview with any law firms to get a summer job for your first year?

I was a RA this summer. And I go to UC Davis. Firm jobs for 1Ls are like unicorns, only rarer (except for those diversity fellowships, which are a super sweet deal, except that I'm a bit too pale for most of them).



RA as research assistant?

Umm.... I did not think getting a job with a law firm your first year was THAT difficult. I think that getting a well-paid job with a firm is rare. I mean... not that many people get 2k a week their first year. But u can find a $$15-20/hr job at a firm your first year. No?

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:45 pm
by 20160810
That's probably true. I did really well in one of my 1L classes, so the prof. offered me a job in December and I never really looked around/interviewed for other work.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:50 pm
by rbgrocio
SBL wrote:That's probably true. I did really well in one of my 1L classes, so the prof. offered me a job in December and I never really looked around/interviewed for other work.



Yeah... I can understand that. I worked for a law firm and now I work for the same law firm+ a federal district court judge. I'm just trying to meet people who are influential, so that maybe I can get good recommendations. Those are very helpful for interviews!!!

Good luck! I'm sure you will do fine.

If it makes you feel better, I got to a TTTT and we only have four ppl coming to OCI phase 1!

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:04 pm
by Jessep
deneuve39 wrote:
Jessep wrote:
emoticons777 wrote:Edit: Also, when they ask you what you want to do - just say litigation or transactional. They probably wont believe you if you give them something really specific. Ex., I just said "I really enjoyed the litigation aspect of XX work I did this summer, but I want to be able to experience other areas of law. It would probably be foolish of me to try to definitively say what I want to do for the rest of my life after only one year of law school." That usually satisfied them, and got a smile.

I would not be so specific even to say litigation or transaction. They may not project a need for a transactional or litigation associate. Unless you are 100% set upon one (which 99% of law students should not be because they do not know what it means to be either), I would express interests in particular areas if you can articulate why (e.g. I worked at a litigation firm this past summer and really enjoyed it) but say that you are open to learning about other areas.


I actually think interviewers prefer if you give them something to go on. This was the one question I was asked in every interview, and although Jessep is right that they definitely do not expect you to know which practice area to do, the conversation would fall flat if you answered the question "Do you have a sense of what practice areas your interested in?" with only saying, "I'm not really sure, but I'm open to trying different things out." It gives the interviewer more to talk about if you say something like, "I actually am looking to try a lot of different areas out, but I thinkantitrust/general corporate work/commercial lit/white collar lit seems interesting. I saw that you started in [antitrust], how did you end up choosing that practice area?"

By answering this question more substantively, you show the interviewer that 1) you know which practice areas are strong at the firm and that they exist (more applicable to narrower areas like white collar) and 2) you are interested in practicing law and in finding out more about what a specific practice area does.

Oh I completely agree. I would typically say something like "It is difficult for me to say exactly what I want to practice since I've never worked at a large law firm and have limited exposure to most of the practice groups; however, I am interested in X, Y, Z because of A, B, C. I see you have a particularly large X group and that your firm is well known for its work in Y. I gained some exposure to X this past summer doing...." Something along those lines.

I'd typically list 2-3 areas I was interested in, but I never said I was only interested in one particular area or that I had ruled out any area. However, that was true for me. If you absolutely hate litigation and it's a litigation firm, then you probably don't want to work for them.

Substantive answers are always good. Answer the questions asked but try to include subtle bits of info that you know about the firm or plugs for yourself. You definitely want to avoid one or two word answers.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:15 pm
by BunkMoreland
Make sure you can keep yourself calm, SBL. Occasionally a firm will throw an asshole at you who will be very rude if you ask a question the wrong way or something. Just maintain your cool and keep smiling.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 8:22 pm
by hmlee
Be aware that if you express interest in a specific practice area you may get trapped with a "so what do you think [xyz practice area] involves?" Either know a correct answer to this or risk looking silly....

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 8:38 pm
by 12262010
hmlee wrote:Be aware that if you express interest in a specific practice area you may get trapped with a "so what do you think [xyz practice area] involves?" Either know a correct answer to this or risk looking silly....


I'm sure this happens occasionally, but it hasn't happened to anyone I know.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:32 pm
by atlantalaw
any tips on how not to get nervous those 10 min you are just standing there waiting to go into the interview? those were the worst parts of interviewing for me.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:36 pm
by midwestls
The chairman and recruiting director of the firm I summered with both said they decide whether to extend a callback within the first 2-3 minutes of the initial conversation, so you have to win those minutes. How do you do it? You have to pick your best characteristic and sell it - i.e. you have to become "Guy who booked Civ Pro" or "Guy who served in Iraq before law school."

It's not enough to have a hook, you have to convince them that hook will make you an asset to the firm, and do it in a conversational manner that makes you attractive to them.

In the end, they're talking to a ton of people who did well in school. What you have to convince them more than anything is that they'd like to have you around, i.e. that you're not a freak or a pain in the ass.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:17 am
by rynabrius
re: atlantalw--

Irish coffee.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:45 am
by concurrent fork
rbgrocio wrote:
SBL wrote:
rbgrocio wrote:
SBL wrote:Here's the deal: I have my first OCI interview in a few days (big firm, other than that I don't really want to give much away since I don't have much anonymity on TLS) and obviously I'd like to do well. This will be my first law firm interview ever, so I don't really know what to expect.

Any tips that you guys can offer/examples of questions and answers/etc. would really be helpful to me.


What did u do this summer? You did not interview with any law firms to get a summer job for your first year?

I was a RA this summer. And I go to UC Davis. Firm jobs for 1Ls are like unicorns, only rarer (except for those diversity fellowships, which are a super sweet deal, except that I'm a bit too pale for most of them).



RA as research assistant?

Umm.... I did not think getting a job with a law firm your first year was THAT difficult. I think that getting a well-paid job with a firm is rare. I mean... not that many people get 2k a week their first year. But u can find a $$15-20/hr job at a firm your first year. No?


It is that difficult in a major market. Even at T6 schools, most 1Ls work public interest during their first summer (often for much less than $15-20/hr). This is only partly due to self-selection.

Re: "what do you want to practice" question -- If you bid on a firm because they are strong in a particular area, do not be afraid to talk about that interest. This is a chance to show that you have thought about how you might fit in and eventually serve clients. Just make sure that you can say something intelligent about any area you bring up.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:51 am
by Anonymous User
concurrent fork wrote:It is that difficult in a major market. Even at T6 schools, most 1Ls work public interest during their first summer (often for much less than $15-20/hr). This is only partly due to self-selection.

Re: "what do you want to practice" question -- If you bid on a firm because they are strong in a particular area, do not be afraid to talk about that interest. This is a chance to show that you have thought about how you might fit in and eventually serve clients. Just make sure that you can say something intelligent about any area you bring up.


This. I'm in a very large market, and my local nonprofit (which I loved working for) had about 100 applicants for every opening, all unpaid. I do know people at our neighboring T6s who worked at firms this summer, but the vast majority of people I knew up and down the rankings thought themselves lucky to get any sort of legal work experience, paid or not.

To SBL: I wish I could advise you, but I've never interviewed with a firm either! I think the advice about Guerilla Tactics is helpful; I've found that book to be fascinating. All interviewing is about state of mind for me-- I need to trick myself into thinking I'm having an informative conversation that will help me learn how I want to use my JD. Anything positive that happens thereafter will be a pleasant bonus, if it happens. Think about anything and everything but the stakes involved. It also helps, in the case of an alumnus/a interviewer, to think of him or her as a former classmate. This simple shift of mind made employer meet/greets much easier for me!

My first is in a few days as well, and I wish you all possible luck!

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 12:20 pm
by let/them/eat/cake
midwestls wrote:The chairman and recruiting director of the firm I summered with both said they decide whether to extend a callback within the first 2-3 minutes of the initial conversation, so you have to win those minutes. How do you do it? You have to pick your best characteristic and sell it - i.e. you have to become "Guy who booked Civ Pro" or "Guy who served in Iraq before law school."

It's not enough to have a hook, you have to convince them that hook will make you an asset to the firm, and do it in a conversational manner that makes you attractive to them.

In the end, they're talking to a ton of people who did well in school. What you have to convince them more than anything is that they'd like to have you around, i.e. that you're not a freak or a pain in the ass.


the advice in this post seems to be a bit at odds with itself. the things u mention re: a hook, that stuff is on your resume, they know it already. the stuff about 'them liking have you around' has, really, nothing to do with your resume at all. it seems like you're saying, on the one hand, "it's about having something on your resume that stands out and vocalizing how that's important", and then on the other hand saying "everyone has something on their resume that stands out, it's important to just not be a goober."

my rather obvious two cents: it is both. further less than useful advice: in my experience thus far--that is, 3 days straight consisting of like 18 screening interviews--the whole thing is kind of a black box. I largely said the same things in all the interviews, i.e., hit all the same talking points and expressed what i was saying in very similar terms each time. some interviews i came out feeling great, a couple i knew didn't go well (the reaches, usu), and others, just, who knows? Some will simply click because of a combination of your talking points, you way of expressing them, the interviewer, and some intangible quality of connection between the interviewer and yourself and the flow of the conversation between you. again, my experience anyway.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 12:47 pm
by midwestls
Yes, basically what they were saying is you have to emphasize a portion of your resume that makes you memorable, to reinforce it, and in doing so come off as someone they can have a conversation with and want to have around. Both things are connected IMO.

I completely agree with you that you're going to say the exact same thing and in some cases it will click and in some cases it won't.

Re: Help your friendly TLS mod not bomb a screener interview

Posted: Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:06 pm
by let/them/eat/cake
midwestls wrote:Yes, basically what they were saying is you have to emphasize a portion of your resume that makes you memorable, to reinforce it, and in doing so come off as someone they can have a conversation with and want to have around. Both things are connected IMO.

I completely agree with you that you're going to say the exact same thing and in some cases it will click and in some cases it won't.


true. also though it's not like you can just say "btw, look! i booked civpro!" (believe me, i've tried to think about how). it's more like you have to be like "after my 1L civ pro classes, i am leaning towards litigation and I hope that my performance in civil procedure augers well for my potential in that practice area. of course, it has only been one year of classes so i am still very much open to corporate work as well yada yada yada".
my point being, u kind of have to point them in the direction of what u want them to note. they still have to look at the resume, process the fact that u booked a class/served in iraq/saved baby whales by pulling titleists out of their blowholes, and think it matters. this is a delicate process and its very delicacy means it can go unnoticed if the interviewer isn't close listening and picking up on the signaling you are doing.