Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

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lawfirmrecruiter
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Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby lawfirmrecruiter » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:48 am

As we get closer to OCI, I thought I would share the top 5 all time interview disasters I have witnessed and hopefully help you learn from the mistakes of others. I am sure none of you here on TLS would ever make these mistakes ...

1. Nose picking in the interview . . . Ewww. While this one is particularly disgusting, the lesson is to watch those nervous habits. No nail biting, fidgeting, etc.

2. Not knowing anything about our firm, locations or practice groups - Seriously. It's the age of the internet. At least know how to look up a firm before darkening the door.

3. Forgetting to cut off the paper bar bracelet from the night before - I'm glad this person had a really good time last night, I just don't want to know about it.

4. Coifing hair into a very pronounced fauxhawk - While it might look awesome on campus and heighten street cred, this candidate forgot they were interviewing in one of the most conservative professions in the world . . .

5. Exaggerating on a resume - While it is good to be comprehensive about work experience, don't try to tell us you actually helped 1st chair a trial last summer during your 1L clerkship.  This candidate was not Reese Witherspoon and we are not Legally Blonde . . .

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IrwinM.Fletcher
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby IrwinM.Fletcher » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:56 am

Absolutely love #4. Our tool of a Westlaw rep has one of these in his photo on the site and has been the butt of jokes for months now because of it. It doesn't help he looks like he has a size 13 neck.

Anonymous User
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:14 pm

RE #2
Just how much do you expect candidates to know about your firm? Assuming you're a full service shop, what is there really to know? They're all functionally the same. Assuming I don't mention an interest in a practice area you don't have, what else am I supposed to know?

I am interested in securities litigation. I'm interested in your firm because you have a well-respected practice in that area. Your recent work on XYZ case really intrigued me.

More than that? That takes 5 minutes to research. I don't really understand all the "prepping" for interviews people stress about.

lawfirmrecruiter
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby lawfirmrecruiter » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:22 pm

Anonymous User wrote:RE #2
Just how much do you expect candidates to know about your firm? Assuming you're a full service shop, what is there really to know? They're all functionally the same. Assuming I don't mention an interest in a practice area you don't have, what else am I supposed to know?

I am interested in securities litigation. I'm interested in your firm because you have a well-respected practice in that area. Your recent work on XYZ case really intrigued me.

More than that? That takes 5 minutes to research. I don't really understand all the "prepping" for interviews people stress about.


Just know the basics about the firm so you can have a good conversation. This particular candidate did not even know where we had offices .... Like you said, it only takes about 5 minutes to familiarize yourself with overview info.

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Heartford
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby Heartford » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:RE #2
Just how much do you expect candidates to know about your firm? Assuming you're a full service shop, what is there really to know? They're all functionally the same. Assuming I don't mention an interest in a practice area you don't have, what else am I supposed to know?

I am interested in securities litigation. I'm interested in your firm because you have a well-respected practice in that area. Your recent work on XYZ case really intrigued me.

More than that? That takes 5 minutes to research. I don't really understand all the "prepping" for interviews people stress about.


+1. I keep hearing that firms want us to know specifics about them, but they all seem to try pretty hard to make their websites/practice areas/general info completely indistinguishable from one another...

P.S. forgot to add- lawfirmrecruiter: thanks so much for this list, and for your other contributions to this site.

lawfirmrecruiter
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby lawfirmrecruiter » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:33 pm

Heartford wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:RE #2
Just how much do you expect candidates to know about your firm? Assuming you're a full service shop, what is there really to know? They're all functionally the same. Assuming I don't mention an interest in a practice area you don't have, what else am I supposed to know?

I am interested in securities litigation. I'm interested in your firm because you have a well-respected practice in that area. Your recent work on XYZ case really intrigued me.

More than that? That takes 5 minutes to research. I don't really understand all the "prepping" for interviews people stress about.


+1. I keep hearing that firms want us to know specifics about them, but they all seem to try pretty hard to make their websites/practice areas/general info completely indistinguishable from one another...

P.S. forgot to add- lawfirmrecruiter: thanks so much for this list, and for your other contributions to this site.


Tis true that all marketing info is basically the same. For further research about the type of practice, especially litigation, run legal research thru West or Lexis on the firms you are interested in. You will really get a good idea about the type of work the firm has been doing. Try EDGAR searches for complex corporate work.

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kalvano
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby kalvano » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:43 pm

I did a practice interview yesterday, and the interviewer told me he really appreciates it when people looking for a summer associate position know something about how the firm runs their SA program (free market work, rotate through different departments, etc.) and asks questions about that. He said being able to speak knowledgeably about that sort of thing was better than just knowing the firm history and such.

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thesealocust
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby thesealocust » Sat Jul 23, 2011 12:49 pm

kalvano wrote:I did a practice interview yesterday, and the interviewer told me he really appreciates it when people looking for a summer associate position know something about how the firm runs their SA program (free market work, rotate through different departments, etc.) and asks questions about that. He said being able to speak knowledgeably about that sort of thing was better than just knowing the firm history and such.


Great advice. Firms put a lot of thought into how they organize these things, and it can make a big difference on your life.

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nealric
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby nealric » Sat Jul 23, 2011 2:38 pm

1. Nose picking in the interview . . . Ewww. While this one is particularly disgusting, the lesson is to watch those nervous habits. No nail biting, fidgeting, etc.

2. Not knowing anything about our firm, locations or practice groups - Seriously. It's the age of the internet. At least know how to look up a firm before darkening the door.

3. Forgetting to cut off the paper bar bracelet from the night before - I'm glad this person had a really good time last night, I just don't want to know about it.

4. Coifing hair into a very pronounced fauxhawk - While it might look awesome on campus and heighten street cred, this candidate forgot they were interviewing in one of the most conservative professions in the world . . .

5. Exaggerating on a resume - While it is good to be comprehensive about work experience, don't try to tell us you actually helped 1st chair a trial last summer during your 1L clerkship. This candidate was not Reese Witherspoon and we are not Legally Blonde . .


1. How often does this really happen?

2. Many OCI candidates are interviewing at 20 firms, which all sound the same on the internet. Even if the firm has one guy who spends 1/4 of his time working in a practice area, the firm's website will make the practice area sound like a big deal. Worse, expressing too much interest in a practice group causes the candidate to pigeonhole themselves. Sure, people shouldn't walk into Finnegan gushing about how much they want to do M&A work, but dinging a candidate because they didn't know your derivatives and commodities practice was the greatest in the world is silly.

3. How often does this really happen? I didn't see a single person who did this at OCI.

4. How often does this really happen? I didn't see a single person who did this at OCI.

5. The only point that could actually qualify as a "Top 5 Interview Disaster".


To avoid just being a mindless criticizer, here is my own list, based on what I have actually observed people doing:

1. Sloppy or too trendy dress. No rubber soled shoes, square toed shoes, or big pinstripes. Conservative is the name of the game.

2. Being overeager or fawning over the interviewer.

3. Canned/rehearsed speeches. Plan what you are going to say, but don't memorize speeches- they are obvious.

4. Overuse of cliches (especially those that don't sound genuine coming from a normal human being). "My greatest weakness is that I'm a workaholic".

5. Weak handshake.

6. (bonus) Not being able to articulately talk about something on your resume or your writing sample. Go back and reread the writing sample before the interview.

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MoS
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby MoS » Sat Jul 23, 2011 2:52 pm

Answering a phone call during the interview.

As if having your phone go off isn't enough, I have heard recruiters complain about interviewees actually answering the phone call and having a conversation with the caller.

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stratocophic
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby stratocophic » Sat Jul 23, 2011 2:53 pm

nealric wrote:
1. Nose picking in the interview . . . Ewww. While this one is particularly disgusting, the lesson is to watch those nervous habits. No nail biting, fidgeting, etc.

2. Not knowing anything about our firm, locations or practice groups - Seriously. It's the age of the internet. At least know how to look up a firm before darkening the door.

3. Forgetting to cut off the paper bar bracelet from the night before - I'm glad this person had a really good time last night, I just don't want to know about it.

4. Coifing hair into a very pronounced fauxhawk - While it might look awesome on campus and heighten street cred, this candidate forgot they were interviewing in one of the most conservative professions in the world . . .

5. Exaggerating on a resume - While it is good to be comprehensive about work experience, don't try to tell us you actually helped 1st chair a trial last summer during your 1L clerkship. This candidate was not Reese Witherspoon and we are not Legally Blonde . .


1. How often does this really happen?

2. Many OCI candidates are interviewing at 20 firms, which all sound the same on the internet. Even if the firm has one guy who spends 1/4 of his time working in a practice area, the firm's website will make the practice area sound like a big deal. Worse, expressing too much interest in a practice group causes the candidate to pigeonhole themselves. Sure, people shouldn't walk into Finnegan gushing about how much they want to do M&A work, but dinging a candidate because they didn't know your derivatives and commodities practice was the greatest in the world is silly.

3. How often does this really happen? I didn't see a single person who did this at OCI.

4. How often does this really happen? I didn't see a single person who did this at OCI.

5. The only point that could actually qualify as a "Top 5 Interview Disaster".


To avoid just being a mindless criticizer, here is my own list, based on what I have actually observed people doing:

1. Sloppy or too trendy dress. No rubber soled shoes, square toed shoes, or big pinstripes. Conservative is the name of the game.

2. Being overeager or fawning over the interviewer.

3. Canned/rehearsed speeches. Plan what you are going to say, but don't memorize speeches- they are obvious.

4. Overuse of cliches (especially those that don't sound genuine coming from a normal human being). "My greatest weakness is that I'm a workaholic".

5. Weak handshake.

6. (bonus) Not being able to articulately talk about something on your resume or your writing sample. Go back and reread the writing sample before the interview.
TBF, these seem more like mistakes than disasters. A disaster = you aren't going to recover from this. If a weak handshake is the sole thing that keeps you from getting a callback with a firm, that interviewer probably needs to reevaluate his or her priorities. The 5 on lfr's list are auto-dings.

That said, there are now 11 points of sound advice in this thread rather than 5 so all the better

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rayiner
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby rayiner » Sat Jul 23, 2011 3:18 pm

Re: 2, I think research does help. It takes 5 minutes to look up a firm on Chambers, and that info is not all bluster.

I personally researched firms inside-and-out at the callback stage and I think it helped. You can make the mistake of coming off weird, but during one callback interview I ended up talking with the interviewer about leverage ratios and how they changed at various firms during through the recession and he responded very positively to my having done my homework about the "business" of the law firm. Now obviously a lot of interviewers don't want to get into the weeds like that, but if you find one receptive why not do your research and be able to discuss things a lot of the other interviewees won't?

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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 23, 2011 4:38 pm

Had an interview recently where the room didn't have A/C and it was extremely warm. With a full suit and tie on, started sweating bullets. And I wasn't nervous at all, it was just super warm. Will now bring a hankerchief to each interview. Should I have asked if it was alright to take my jacket off?

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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby Aqualibrium » Sat Jul 23, 2011 5:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Had an interview recently where the room didn't have A/C and it was extremely warm. With a full suit and tie on, started sweating bullets. And I wasn't nervous at all, it was just super warm. Will now bring a hankerchief to each interview. Should I have asked if it was alright to take my jacket off?


You should have made a comment about how hot it was in the room. Organic conversation about things that are actually happening in your shared environment is always a good place to start with girls and with firms.

seatown12
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby seatown12 » Sat Jul 23, 2011 6:49 pm

nealric wrote:1. Sloppy or too trendy dress. No rubber soled shoes, square toed shoes, or big pinstripes. Conservative is the name of the game.

2. Being overeager or fawning over the interviewer.

3. Canned/rehearsed speeches. Plan what you are going to say, but don't memorize speeches- they are obvious.

4. Overuse of cliches (especially those that don't sound genuine coming from a normal human being). "My greatest weakness is that I'm a workaholic".

5. Weak handshake.

6. (bonus) Not being able to articulately talk about something on your resume or your writing sample. Go back and reread the writing sample before the interview.

If these were instead listed 6, 4, 3, 2, 5, 1 I'd say it was just about right. If you can't talk about your own resume you are pathetic. 2, 3, and 4 are just classic bad interviewing/human interaction.

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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:08 pm

i once took a dump in the hotel room of the interview during OCI. was an emergency and towards the end of the interview asked politely if I could use the restroom (since it ended a little early anyways).

did not get the callback. would advise against doing this.

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Naked Dude
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby Naked Dude » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:20 pm

nealric wrote:
1. Nose picking in the interview . . . Ewww. While this one is particularly disgusting, the lesson is to watch those nervous habits. No nail biting, fidgeting, etc.

2. Not knowing anything about our firm, locations or practice groups - Seriously. It's the age of the internet. At least know how to look up a firm before darkening the door.

3. Forgetting to cut off the paper bar bracelet from the night before - I'm glad this person had a really good time last night, I just don't want to know about it.

4. Coifing hair into a very pronounced fauxhawk - While it might look awesome on campus and heighten street cred, this candidate forgot they were interviewing in one of the most conservative professions in the world . . .

5. Exaggerating on a resume - While it is good to be comprehensive about work experience, don't try to tell us you actually helped 1st chair a trial last summer during your 1L clerkship. This candidate was not Reese Witherspoon and we are not Legally Blonde . .


1. How often does this really happen?

2. Many OCI candidates are interviewing at 20 firms, which all sound the same on the internet. Even if the firm has one guy who spends 1/4 of his time working in a practice area, the firm's website will make the practice area sound like a big deal. Worse, expressing too much interest in a practice group causes the candidate to pigeonhole themselves. Sure, people shouldn't walk into Finnegan gushing about how much they want to do M&A work, but dinging a candidate because they didn't know your derivatives and commodities practice was the greatest in the world is silly.

3. How often does this really happen? I didn't see a single person who did this at OCI.

4. How often does this really happen? I didn't see a single person who did this at OCI.

5. The only point that could actually qualify as a "Top 5 Interview Disaster".


To avoid just being a mindless criticizer, here is my own list, based on what I have actually observed people doing:

1. Sloppy or too trendy dress. No rubber soled shoes, square toed shoes, or big pinstripes. Conservative is the name of the game.

2. Being overeager or fawning over the interviewer.

3. Canned/rehearsed speeches. Plan what you are going to say, but don't memorize speeches- they are obvious.

4. Overuse of cliches (especially those that don't sound genuine coming from a normal human being). "My greatest weakness is that I'm a workaholic".

5. Weak handshake.

6. (bonus) Not being able to articulately talk about something on your resume or your writing sample. Go back and reread the writing sample before the interview.


Speaking of shoes, I've been made fun of, but I'm inheriting a pair of nice wing tips from my father. I guess rubber soles would be more likely to invite ridicule then.

Anonymous Loser
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby Anonymous Loser » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:i once took a dump in the hotel room of the interview during OCI. was an emergency and towards the end of the interview asked politely if I could use the restroom (since it ended a little early anyways).

did not get the callback. would advise against doing this.


This is solid gold right here. Just when I think TLS isn't worth reading anymore, a skillful anonymous poster comes along and proves me wrong.

Anonymous User
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:27 pm

Anonymous Loser wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:i once took a dump in the hotel room of the interview during OCI. was an emergency and towards the end of the interview asked politely if I could use the restroom (since it ended a little early anyways).

did not get the callback. would advise against doing this.


This is solid gold right here. Just when I think TLS isn't worth reading anymore, a skillful anonymous poster comes along and proves me wrong.


I had to excuse myself for 20 minutes during a callback to take a #2. Did not get the offer.

On the other hand, the firm fell out of the V50 this year in an epic way, so :-P.

Anonymous User
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:31 pm

it actually made me feel much more confident afterwards. it must be because of some innate animal instinct that makes you feel like a boss of a place once you take a dump there.

i would actually advise every interviewee to arrive to a callback at least 20 minutes early and proceed to take a dump at the firm. you just feel like you own the place afterwards

Aqualibrium
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby Aqualibrium » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:it actually made me feel much more confident afterwards. it must be because of some innate animal instinct that makes you feel like a boss of a place once you take a dump there.

i would actually advise every interviewee to arrive to a callback at least 20 minutes early and proceed to take a dump at the firm. you just feel like you own the place afterwards



That's stupid...

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Heartford
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby Heartford » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:51 pm

Aqualibrium wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:it actually made me feel much more confident afterwards. it must be because of some innate animal instinct that makes you feel like a boss of a place once you take a dump there.

i would actually advise every interviewee to arrive to a callback at least 20 minutes early and proceed to take a dump at the firm. you just feel like you own the place afterwards



That's stupid...


No, that's pure genius.

Anonymous User
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:56 pm

Aqualibrium wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:it actually made me feel much more confident afterwards. it must be because of some innate animal instinct that makes you feel like a boss of a place once you take a dump there.

i would actually advise every interviewee to arrive to a callback at least 20 minutes early and proceed to take a dump at the firm. you just feel like you own the place afterwards



That's stupid...


just think about it. when you walk in for an interview you're on foreign ground, their turf. this is an away game for you. ask any sports team: it's always tough to win on the road. but when you stride into the company restroom and drop a huge deuce, you have essentially turned the tables. you subconsciously begin feel like you own the place. you relax, you let your guard down.

the only thing you have to watch out for though is the double-shit. you finish shitting, whipe, finally get your tie fixed and shirt tucked in, belt done, and realize, I have to continue shitting. you can't say you've never experienced it, and again, serious time crunch.

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Heartford
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby Heartford » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:05 am

Anonymous User wrote: whipe



For some reason, the way this is spelled made me literally laugh out loud.

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Naked Dude
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Re: Top 5 Interview Disasters to Avoid

Postby Naked Dude » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:11 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Aqualibrium wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:it actually made me feel much more confident afterwards. it must be because of some innate animal instinct that makes you feel like a boss of a place once you take a dump there.

i would actually advise every interviewee to arrive to a callback at least 20 minutes early and proceed to take a dump at the firm. you just feel like you own the place afterwards



That's stupid...


just think about it. when you walk in for an interview you're on foreign ground, their turf. this is an away game for you. ask any sports team: it's always tough to win on the road. but when you stride into the company restroom and drop a huge deuce, you have essentially turned the tables. you subconsciously begin feel like you own the place. you relax, you let your guard down.

the only thing you have to watch out for though is the double-shit. you finish shitting, whipe, finally get your tie fixed and shirt tucked in, belt done, and realize, I have to continue shitting. you can't say you've never experienced it, and again, serious time crunch.


Also, watch your shirt tail when wiping. If you go back-to-front, don't drag your crisp, starched white shirt into the abyss. Front-to-back is preferable, but if you've produced soft-serve make sure the shirt isn't waiting to catch a load as you're bringing your hand around.




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