Interview help please

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Anonymous User
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Interview help please

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:51 pm

I have a question about interviews.

So what do you guys do when the interviewer starts asking you to ask them questions really early on. It's a screening interview and he asks you to ask questions with half the time left.

What should you do when you run out of questions and can't continue the conversation..

Is there some way to make the interview about yourself again??

Thanks for your input!

luthersloan
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Re: Interview help please

Postby luthersloan » Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:56 pm

Follow up questions. The goal to my mind of the "now you ask me questions" phase of the interview should be to turn into into a conversation, rather than a rigid back and forth of question and answer.

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Re: Interview help please

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:21 pm

luthersloan wrote:Follow up questions. The goal to my mind of the "now you ask me questions" phase of the interview should be to turn into into a conversation, rather than a rigid back and forth of question and answer.


What do you usually talk about? About working as a lawyer and how the job is like? Or something completely random about their lives.

I am always worried to go off topic and chat about something personal because I want them to focus on my lawyering skills. I am also kinda scared to ask about their life outside of their work in case they don't want to talk about it.

luthersloan
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Re: Interview help please

Postby luthersloan » Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:24 pm

generally their work, or stuff about the firm.

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Re: Interview help please

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 5:41 pm

luthersloan wrote:generally their work, or stuff about the firm.


Agreed, and do your homework. Read their bios and (maybe) google them (but don't sound stalker-ish). I'll give some specifics that worked for me:

If you find something particularly interesting about their background (clerkship(s), cases, articles, press releases), ask about it. Nod your head a few times as they answer. Follow up from that if they say something that you find interesting (e.g., interviewer clerked at DC then COA, ask about the differences or the judges; interviewer has listed as a practice group something that you worked on 1L year or over the summer). Ask about recent cases or challenging problem that the interviewer has worked on. Ask about the forecast for their area of law, is it bright, complicated, or facing challenges or upheaval?

Ask about something the firm repeatedly espouses or highlights on their website like a unique program or training, but don't say immediately you think it's wonderful. Question it: "What are the drawbacks of having X? Does it foster Y? Have you gone through it/what is your experiences with it? Does it deliver as promised?" Then, once they answer, say you think it's great because of Z reason or some connection you had in undergrad/professional experience/law school.

If you attend the same law school as the interviewer did, ask about recommendations for professors or classes. Ask about local food or pubs. This has always worked well for me. If they went to undergrad or law school in an area with which you are familiar: ask them if they are originally from there. This could backfire, but you can usually talk about the city or town for a minute or two. If you interviewer is a male and seems open to the question, ask him about sports.

The one question that I asked in each of my interviews is: What do you tell young (or summer) associates who come to you and ask for advice about getting to a certain place or improving? This question is gold for a few different reasons: (1) It's so general a caveman could answer it; (2) The interviewee can, to some extent, peak behind the curtains of the more direct question of "firm culture"; (3) The interviewer has the chance to talk about what a great mentor he or she is; (4) It shows ambition and coachability. Once they give an answer, you can use a story from your resume that you weren't able to sneak in because they didn't ask about it.

Finally, and most important, use judgment in asking questions. In some interviews, you can fire questions (and turn it into a conversation) much earlier than the strict "10 mins I ask you, 10 mins you ask me" format. And in others, not so much. Play it by ear. If something comes up at minute 7 that piques your interest, ask it or save it for later. Also, I've found that anything that gets them talking about non-law related topics (TV shows, sports, regions, cities, favorite restaurants, activities, committees) is fantastic so long as you get your law-related questions in at some point. For example, I talked about Curb Your Enthusiasm for the majority of one of my interviews and it worked out well.

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holdencaulfield
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Re: Interview help please

Postby holdencaulfield » Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
luthersloan wrote:Follow up questions. The goal to my mind of the "now you ask me questions" phase of the interview should be to turn into into a conversation, rather than a rigid back and forth of question and answer.


What do you usually talk about? About working as a lawyer and how the job is like? Or something completely random about their lives.

I am always worried to go off topic and chat about something personal because I want them to focus on my lawyering skills. I am also kinda scared to ask about their life outside of their work in case they don't want to talk about it.



Ask a couple of good "law" questions and then find a common interest** to talk about. My "go-to" was college football; almost everyone likes to talk about their undergrad team. You can start by asking them where they went to school. Follow-up with some comment that will strike a conversation. "How are the longhorns going to do this year? Is Colt McCoy's brother going to play quarterback?" Don't follow college football? You should learn at least the basics because the topic is big during OCI season.

**Common interests are those important to the interviewer that you can converse competently about; you actual level of interest is irrelevant.

Other topics are good to. "Where did you go to lawschool? Did you like living in NYC? I'm actually going there in a few weeks, any suggestions on nightlife?*** have you ever been to McSorley's?"

***This is a good question even if you have no current travel plans.

Feel them out. Try to find something important to the interviewer and get him/her talking. Then look interested and impressed. Never correct and interviewer or trump his story. I've found that, after the "legal" talk is over, it's better to let the interviewer impress you than vice versa.

That's my approach, and it's worked for me time and time again.

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Re: Interview help please

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 10:57 pm

OP here.
This was helpful! Thanks for the input.

luthersloan
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Re: Interview help please

Postby luthersloan » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:01 pm

You don't need to brush up on sports if you don't want to. In the 50 or so interviews of I have done over two OCI sessions it has never once come up. Then again, I look very nerdy so I doubt anyone would ever ask me a question about it.

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Re: Interview help please

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:19 pm

sports won't break you, but it wouldnt hurt to brush up. i had a few interviews start with "so catch the game last night." to which i responded with a blank stare "uggg."

was also asked if i follow football a few times b/c apparently it was nfl season when i interviewed. go figure.

this probably didn't break me as it only happened a few times, but it sure as hell cost me an opportunity to connect. if the guy who came in after me was able to discuss the game last night im sure his interview went ten times better than mine.




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