How do you stop giving canned answers...

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Anonymous User
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How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:52 pm

to canned questions?

I just had a call with a recruiter at a cb I was rejected from, who said one thing the attorneys picked up on was that some of my answers sounded canned and I should be more conversational. I had some good conversations with the attorneys about non-law stuff, sports, etc. But being unable to answer the basic questions of why this firm, why this practice, why law, etc. is pretty bad, and since these are usually the first questions it doesn't leave a good first impression if something is a bit off.

If you've had this problem before, how did you deal with it? All I can think of is making a comment about something in the office, outside, some current event, right when I get in the room so I can make a good first impression as having a conversational style and then going into the questions.

GermX
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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby GermX » Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:56 pm

Don't practice so much. Just write down some bullet points, know them, and go in and give the answer. It'll be jumbled in a way that'll sound less canned, as long as you hit those points you wanted to make.

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:59 pm

Pauses and pensive "ums" always help, in my experience. Convoluted answers are never good, but it's certainly okay to come off like you're seriously thinking about the questions.

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:32 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Pauses and pensive "ums" always help, in my experience. Convoluted answers are never good, but it's certainly okay to come off like you're seriously thinking about the questions.


haha. my canned answers always included a lot of pauses and "uh"s and "um"s because they were long and i had to think about what was next, even after i'd given the same answer a bazillion times.

if your answer is actually based on real memories, there will be body language signs that show it, too. e.g. which way your eyes are looking (should be to upper right). my advice is to jot down specific memories/examples and make sure you hit on all of those as opposed to give conclusory answers.

CanadianWolf
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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:44 pm

Essentially, you need to have a genuine interest in that particular firm or in certain practice areas. Canned responses are insincere & sometimes perceived as dishonest.

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monkey85
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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby monkey85 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 3:58 pm

Have you gone back to career services to do another mock interview?

I would say, just remember that canned questions don't need canned answers.

This is criticism - but constructive criticism - that I hope helps:
- If your answers to the "basic questions" came off as canned, that means you did not think through your own personal reasons sufficiently. If it is "Why M&A" - sure the easy thing is "I want to work on the biggest deals, and be a close-advisor to businesses" but there must be something personal that interested you. Did you work before in X field and so you want to see the legal side of the transaction? Did you read about the firm's client and want to work with that same big PE firm in the future? Does the firm work in a region that you have really have strong ties too (asia, etc.) Same goes for "Why litigation" - you need more than "I like the courtroom and writing motions" Make it personal.

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:24 pm

monkey85 wrote:Have you gone back to career services to do another mock interview?

I would say, just remember that canned questions don't need canned answers.

This is criticism - but constructive criticism - that I hope helps:
- If your answers to the "basic questions" came off as canned, that means you did not think through your own personal reasons sufficiently. If it is "Why M&A" - sure the easy thing is "I want to work on the biggest deals, and be a close-advisor to businesses" but there must be something personal that interested you. Did you work before in X field and so you want to see the legal side of the transaction? Did you read about the firm's client and want to work with that same big PE firm in the future? Does the firm work in a region that you have really have strong ties too (asia, etc.) Same goes for "Why litigation" - you need more than "I like the courtroom and writing motions" Make it personal.


I guess I just can't think of anything personal to say. If the work sounds interesting and it pays well I apply for the job. I don't have much of a background in anything (history major, went straight through) and my coursework and internships during law school have been all over the map.

EDIT: I guess it's just frustrating because I see people who don't have a genuine interest in biglaw work (who are just using it as part of a three-year plan) get biglaw jobs all the time. Maybe they are just better at hiding it or have thought up/concocted better answers.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

CanadianWolf
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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:26 pm

That's fine, but the market is highly competitive & others interviewing have genuine interest in these firms & their practice areas.

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby goodolgil » Mon Oct 10, 2011 4:33 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:That's fine, but the market is highly competitive & others interviewing have genuine interest in these firms & their practice areas.


Meh, I know a shitload of people who don't give a shit about biglaw who are just swimming in offers. I think it's less about interest and more about grades + extroverted personality/this guy/girl will fit in in biglaw.

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Grizz
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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby Grizz » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:26 pm

Make your canned answers sound not canned. It's a skill.

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby turbotong » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:10 pm

Follow up role play:
Pretend you are a hiring partner (unless you really are, which would be excellent) and one of the questions you ask is generic.

How do you distinguish the sincere answers from the insincere?

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:11 pm

be personable. that is what they are looking for, not a robot with memorized, false robot answers. just act like a real person with genuine thoughts. it's that easy.

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby bdubs » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:44 pm

The best way to make your answers sound genuine is to incorporate things that you've heard throughout the interview day. Your first interview might sound a bit routine, but if you ask the right questions you should get material that you can integrate into a "why this firm" or "why this practice" question. Being perceptive, asking good questions, and listening attentively will take you a long way in an interview.

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby sebastian0622 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:02 am

This is sort of an odd problem. You're basically asking people how to communicate like a normal human being. That's somewhat funny, but what's funnier is how many responses you have earnestly trying to answer the question! Only in law school!

I don't intend to be mean-spirited; I really do find this humorous. The point is that because your question implicates a lot of basic, fundamental communication skills, I'm not sure anyone can give you an answer that will help you. If you're well into your 20's and can't have a somewhat normal-sounding conversation with someone (even if that someone is in fact two someones, and they are strangers, and they are potentially trying to hire you), then there isn't a whole lot you can read on a message board that is going to fix it. I understand that there are various excuses for not having developed the skill to have a normal conversation (foreign students / ESL / raised in a cave by buffalo in Utah / etc.), but it's probably time to get that skill fast.

I don't think you can pawn it off as law school interviews being so unique that you can't use your "normal" social skills. You have to think of it as just another social setting, not as some magical or completely foreign setting. A lot of life is about engaging people, sounding sincere (even when you're not), and a lot of jobs (ranging from sales to law) are about repeating the same stuff with enthusiasm when you're not at all enthusiastic. What are you going to do when you're in a meeting with a client dealing with the same type of issue for the 43rd time in your legal career? Apathy and insincerity won't retain business. What about if you're in front of a commission or judge or jury defending your 17th workers' compensation case? Just mail it in with "canned"-sounding answers because you're bored and apathetic? In other words, sounding interested when you're not, and engaging strangers in conversation are not particularly foreign tasks to people with basic communicative skills. There is not some silver bullet advice from a message board that will set you free. Sorry if that's not what you hoped to hear, but it's my honest assessment.

Perhaps more people would benefit from more real-world experience / working with people prior to going to law school.
Last edited by sebastian0622 on Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:09 am, edited 2 times in total.

Transferthrowaway
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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby Transferthrowaway » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:03 am

NEVER break eye contact. Period.

foxtrottortxof
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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby foxtrottortxof » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:04 am

I ended up 7/7 CB/offers and I think the best way to do this is to weave in information only you could know. They'll come away with an impression that you really thought about how what would otherwise be stock answers relate to your specific situation.

For example, weave in information you've learned elsewhere, especially from people who work at the firm ("I like corporate because [insert generic answer]. From talking with associates--Jerry Corporate, for one--I know that I can find that here. XYZ Firm is obivously very well known for [well-known practice area that you're interested in] and Jerry said he's had the opportunity for early responsibility, which is exactly what I'm looking for."). Or something about your personal background ("I like corporate because [insert generic answer]. When I was working at XYZ Bank, I had the chance to see the other side of [whatever you're talking about], (or "had the chance to see....") and realized that I could really see myself doing that for a living. blah blah blah"). Or something about your personality ("I have a competitive side, for sure, but I'm not necessarily contentious, which is why I've been drawn more to corporate work than to litigation. It seems better suited to my personality.").

I gave the same answers every time and probably "sounded" rehearsed, but I didn't seem canned because the content of what I was saying seemed unique to me.

My examples sound a little cheesy reading them, but I seriously did similar stuff. If it's all true you don't have to worry about whether you believe it or how good of an actor you are. (and it also means you have to think a bit and do some research).

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby Nicholasnickynic » Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:53 am

sebastian0622 wrote:This is sort of an odd problem. You're basically asking people how to communicate like a normal human being. That's somewhat funny, but what's funnier is how many responses you have earnestly trying to answer the question! Only in law school!

I don't intend to be mean-spirited; I really do find this humorous. The point is that because your question implicates a lot of basic, fundamental communication skills, I'm not sure anyone can give you an answer that will help you. If you're well into your 20's and can't have a somewhat normal-sounding conversation with someone (even if that someone is in fact two someones, and they are strangers, and they are potentially trying to hire you), then there isn't a whole lot you can read on a message board that is going to fix it. I understand that there are various excuses for not having developed the skill to have a normal conversation (foreign students / ESL / raised in a cave by buffalo in Utah / etc.), but it's probably time to get that skill fast.

I don't think you can pawn it off as law school interviews being so unique that you can't use your "normal" social skills. You have to think of it as just another social setting, not as some magical or completely foreign setting. A lot of life is about engaging people, sounding sincere (even when you're not), and a lot of jobs (ranging from sales to law) are about repeating the same stuff with enthusiasm when you're not at all enthusiastic. What are you going to do when you're in a meeting with a client dealing with the same type of issue for the 43rd time in your legal career? Apathy and insincerity won't retain business. What about if you're in front of a commission or judge or jury defending your 17th workers' compensation case? Just mail it in with "canned"-sounding answers because you're bored and apathetic? In other words, sounding interested when you're not, and engaging strangers in conversation are not particularly foreign tasks to people with basic communicative skills. There is not some silver bullet advice from a message board that will set you free. Sorry if that's not what you hoped to hear, but it's my honest assessment.

Perhaps more people would benefit from more real-world experience / working with people prior to going to law school.


TL;DR, but you are socially retarded. I mean consider the following: "I don't intend to be mean-spirited; I really do find this humorous"

A person falls over and skids their knee... you start laughing-"I don't intend to be mean-spirited; I really do find this humorous"

A person gets rejected in all thier interviews and you laugh at them- "I don't intend to be mean-spirited; I really do find this humorous"

You come off sounding like a pompous jack ass who is completely out of touch with reality and does not even realize they are being extremely offensive.

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby sebastian0622 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:02 pm

Nicholasnickynic wrote:
sebastian0622 wrote:This is sort of an odd problem. You're basically asking people how to communicate like a normal human being. That's somewhat funny, but what's funnier is how many responses you have earnestly trying to answer the question! Only in law school!

I don't intend to be mean-spirited; I really do find this humorous. The point is that because your question implicates a lot of basic, fundamental communication skills, I'm not sure anyone can give you an answer that will help you. If you're well into your 20's and can't have a somewhat normal-sounding conversation with someone (even if that someone is in fact two someones, and they are strangers, and they are potentially trying to hire you), then there isn't a whole lot you can read on a message board that is going to fix it. I understand that there are various excuses for not having developed the skill to have a normal conversation (foreign students / ESL / raised in a cave by buffalo in Utah / etc.), but it's probably time to get that skill fast.

I don't think you can pawn it off as law school interviews being so unique that you can't use your "normal" social skills. You have to think of it as just another social setting, not as some magical or completely foreign setting. A lot of life is about engaging people, sounding sincere (even when you're not), and a lot of jobs (ranging from sales to law) are about repeating the same stuff with enthusiasm when you're not at all enthusiastic. What are you going to do when you're in a meeting with a client dealing with the same type of issue for the 43rd time in your legal career? Apathy and insincerity won't retain business. What about if you're in front of a commission or judge or jury defending your 17th workers' compensation case? Just mail it in with "canned"-sounding answers because you're bored and apathetic? In other words, sounding interested when you're not, and engaging strangers in conversation are not particularly foreign tasks to people with basic communicative skills. There is not some silver bullet advice from a message board that will set you free. Sorry if that's not what you hoped to hear, but it's my honest assessment.

Perhaps more people would benefit from more real-world experience / working with people prior to going to law school.


TL;DR, but you are socially retarded. I mean consider the following: "I don't intend to be mean-spirited; I really do find this humorous"

A person falls over and skids their knee... you start laughing-"I don't intend to be mean-spirited; I really do find this humorous"

A person gets rejected in all thier interviews and you laugh at them- "I don't intend to be mean-spirited; I really do find this humorous"

You come off sounding like a pompous jack ass who is completely out of touch with reality and does not even realize they are being extremely offensive.


Did you even read the first paragraph? Why would you think the "this" that I find humorous is OP failing at interviews and not getting a job? Obviously that isn't funny at all.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:42 pm

sebastian0622 wrote:
Nicholasnickynic wrote:
TL;DR, but you are socially retarded. I mean consider the following: "I don't intend to be mean-spirited; I really do find this humorous"

A person falls over and skids their knee... you start laughing-"I don't intend to be mean-spirited; I really do find this humorous"

A person gets rejected in all thier interviews and you laugh at them- "I don't intend to be mean-spirited; I really do find this humorous"

You come off sounding like a pompous jack ass who is completely out of touch with reality and does not even realize they are being extremely offensive.


Did you even read the first paragraph? Why would you think the "this" that I find humorous is OP failing at interviews and not getting a job? Obviously that isn't funny at all.


The "this" you found funny was that you think OP can't communicate like a normal human being and people are trying to help him out in doing so. You may have made some valid points, but I agree with the above poster: you come off as an asshole who isn't aware that he is being an asshole.

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby Danteshek » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:47 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Essentially, you need to have a genuine interest in that particular firm or in certain practice areas. Canned responses are insincere & sometimes perceived as dishonest.


Being too honest can kill you. Next time I interview, I will play my cards much closer to the chest.

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby sebastian0622 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:49 pm

Richie Tenenbaum wrote:The "this" you found funny was that you think OP can't communicate like a normal human being and people are trying to help him out in doing so. You may have made some valid points, but I agree with the above poster: you come off as an asshole who isn't aware that he is being an asshole.


The "this" I found funny is that people respond to an inquiry of how to communicate like a normal human being with conveniently trite and tidy tidbits of advice that offer no real chance of change. Sometimes I think people need to hear the truth. And the whole truth, not some neutered, censored version of it. Besides, there are people other than OP reading this. If a person is considering law school, he should think about whether he has the skills necessary to do this kind of thing.

Nobody is doing OP a favor by being nice at the expense of being honest and comprehensive. Someone else tried to hint to OP the same thing I did by indicating that there are other students who DO have this skill, and if OP doesn't have it, then firms won't hire her. OP brushed this accurate observation off because it wasn't what she wanted to hear. OP ignored another good suggestion to go to career services and talk to someone in person about this. Think about it; you're not doing OP any favors by giving relatively worthless hints like "say 'um' more often," "rehearse less" or "personalize your answers." There is no reason to believe that those things will solve the problem. OP really needs to hear that she needs to do some serious introspection and change the way in which she is approaching the interviews, if not spend a lot of time and effort changing some communication flaws. Suggesting that there are some really simple fixes to this is disingenuous and will not help this person, in my opinion, nor will it help others reading this thread who have similar issues. And I feel that is a perfectly reasonable opinion. Sometimes being nice to people means honestly trying to help them even though you know it won't be well-received, not telling them what they want to hear. When OP rejects more tactful advice to this effect, it may be necessary to assert it more strongly.
Last edited by sebastian0622 on Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mrloblaw
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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby mrloblaw » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:57 pm

While I'm far from the best interviewer in the world, I don't can my answer to begin with. Know roughly what you want to say, and be able to place some sort of firm-unique detail into it if at all possible (it might not be). Do not have speeches prepared word for word, unless you're simply incapable of muddling through a moderately formal conversation while nervous.

The answer seems fairly obvious to me. Better interviewers, feel free to correct me.

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:31 pm

mrloblaw wrote:While I'm far from the best interviewer in the world, I don't can my answer to begin with. Know roughly what you want to say, and be able to place some sort of firm-unique detail into it if at all possible (it might not be). Do not have speeches prepared word for word, unless you're simply incapable of muddling through a moderately formal conversation while nervous.

The answer seems fairly obvious to me. Better interviewers, feel free to correct me.


The thing is I've never written out my answers to interview questions. They may sound practiced because I've said them 30 times in the last few months, but I don't give speeches from a cue card.

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:34 pm

.

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Re: How do you stop giving canned answers...

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:59 pm

sebastian0622 wrote:
Richie Tenenbaum wrote:The "this" you found funny was that you think OP can't communicate like a normal human being and people are trying to help him out in doing so. You may have made some valid points, but I agree with the above poster: you come off as an asshole who isn't aware that he is being an asshole.


The "this" I found funny is that people respond to an inquiry of how to communicate like a normal human being with conveniently trite and tidy tidbits of advice that offer no real chance of change. Sometimes I think people need to hear the truth. And the whole truth, not some neutered, censored version of it. Besides, there are people other than OP reading this. If a person is considering law school, he should think about whether he has the skills necessary to do this kind of thing.

Nobody is doing OP a favor by being nice at the expense of being honest and comprehensive. Someone else tried to hint to OP the same thing I did by indicating that there are other students who DO have this skill, and if OP doesn't have it, then firms won't hire her. OP brushed this accurate observation off because it wasn't what she wanted to hear. OP ignored another good suggestion to go to career services and talk to someone in person about this. Think about it; you're not doing OP any favors by giving relatively worthless hints like "say 'um' more often," "rehearse less" or "personalize your answers." There is no reason to believe that those things will solve the problem. OP really needs to hear that she needs to do some serious introspection and change the way in which she is approaching the interviews, if not spend a lot of time and effort changing some communication flaws. Suggesting that there are some really simple fixes to this is disingenuous and will not help this person, in my opinion, nor will it help others reading this thread who have similar issues. And I feel that is a perfectly reasonable opinion. Sometimes being nice to people means honestly trying to help them even though you know it won't be well-received, not telling them what they want to hear. When OP rejects more tactful advice to this effect, it may be necessary to assert it more strongly.



I have been to career services twice and mock interviewed with a former employer and none of them gave me negative feedback.

In your two posts you have managed to completely mischaracterize my problem, insult me, not offer any concrete steps that I can take to improve my interviewing, and give me "advice" that amounts to "see a shrink, weirdo." This is a serious problem I think you need to address. What are you going to do when you're in a meeting with a client and that client did something wrong? Giving crappy advice and insulting the client because you think he needs to hear tough love won't retain business. What about if you're in front of a commission or judge or jury defending your 17th workers' compensation case and you think the judge got something wrong? Tell him he needs to do some serious introspection and change the way he is approaching the law? In other words, giving advice without coming off as insulting and petty aren't particularly foreign tasks to people with basic communication skills. Just my honest assessment.




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