1L firm interview - preparing stories?

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1L firm interview - preparing stories?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:35 pm

I always get thrown off by easy questions like "tell me about your internship at XYZ." I know that's supposed to be a slam dunk but I don't even know where to begin. What kind of stories and detail do people want to hear?

I have an interview later this week with a firm that I really really want to work for. I'm going to spend tonight practicing/preparing but I think I'm just doing it wrong. Really don't want to screw this up. Thanks.

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yngblkgifted
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Re: 1L firm interview - preparing stories?

Postby yngblkgifted » Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:44 pm

Just be yourself and don't force it. A lot of people assume that it's easy to tell stories, but few people can actually do it effectively without practice. The best solution here would be to practice out loud. Do it while you're in the shower, the car etc...preferably places where your roommates can't hear you. This way you get used to telling your stories clearly and succinctly while hitting on the right points to sell yourself without rambling, saying "um" too much, or telling insignificant facts. Also, don't forget to have questions prepared to ask your interviewees. You should be fine though. Good Luck.

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traehekat
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Re: 1L firm interview - preparing stories?

Postby traehekat » Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:30 pm

yngblkgifted wrote:Just be yourself and don't force it. A lot of people assume that it's easy to tell stories, but few people can actually do it effectively without practice. The best solution here would be to practice out loud. Do it while you're in the shower, the car etc...preferably places where your roommates can't hear you. This way you get used to telling your stories clearly and succinctly while hitting on the right points to sell yourself without rambling, saying "um" too much, or telling insignificant facts. Also, don't forget to have questions prepared to ask your interviewees. You should be fine though. Good Luck.


While I agree that this is all good advice, you also want to make sure you balance it out with being relaxed and conversational. Have an idea of what you want to say, but you don't have to meticulously plan every single sentence that comes out of your mouth during an interview. You don't want to sound like a robot - the trick is to be prepared without sounding like you had to prepare. So figure out what you want to get across to the interviewer in response to each question, practice saying it, and then go into the interview RELAXED.

As far as level of detail for a question like that, it's pretty simple. Generally state that it was a great experience and that you learned a lot about x, and then launch into a quick story about HOW you learned about x (likely a project you worked on or something). Don't make it some long speech, because then it isn't a conversation. Don't include every single detail, because then it doesn't leave room for further questions about it.

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acrossthelake
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Re: 1L firm interview - preparing stories?

Postby acrossthelake » Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:33 pm

My general experience has been when it comes to speaking occasions (speeches, presentations, interviews) that when I've practiced things out loud, I end up sounding a little off because I get too thrown off when I deviate from script(as I'm going to). I do a lot better when I just pre-plan key points and do the translation of point to sentences on the fly.

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Re: 1L firm interview - preparing stories?

Postby turbotong » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:34 am

I waltz in and wing it. After all, I DO know what happened at my prior work experiences. I'm flexible based on how interested the interviewer seems about each thing I say. Elaborate with more details when the interviewer is attentive, skip topics if the interviewer is mindless nodding

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Re: 1L firm interview - preparing stories?

Postby r6_philly » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:51 am

turbotong wrote:I waltz in and wing it. After all, I DO know what happened at my prior work experiences. I'm flexible based on how interested the interviewer seems about each thing I say. Elaborate with more details when the interviewer is attentive, skip topics if the interviewer is mindless nodding



+1
This skill comes from experience though. For most inexperienced people, it's hard to wing it when you are extremely nervous. I thrive when people ask me questions, so naturally I love interviews. I still mentally prepare though, some points should get out regardless.

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Re: 1L firm interview - preparing stories?

Postby bdubs » Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:22 pm

I have yet to experience a law interview where they ask "traditional" interview questions, but if you do get one you should be ready.

Don't practice reciting your stories, but if someone says "Tell me about a time when you had to work in a team that didn't function well," you better damn well not say every team you've ever been on has functioned perfectly. There are a set of standard interview question categories that you need stories which can be molded to fit into. Every interviewer will phrase them differently or emphasize a different point, but you should have a story ready to go for all of them or you risk sounding unprepared/inexperienced.

Key categories:
Leadership
Teamwork
Adversity/hardship (this has several subcategories including teamwork, managing relationships w/superiors, and personal improvement)
Perseverance (aka I know how to work hard to achieve something)

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A Swift
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Re: 1L firm interview - preparing stories?

Postby A Swift » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:48 pm

I don't agree with any of this advice. Not because the posters are stupid, but because they don't realize what we naturally do in social settings.

In life, you have your "go to" stories. The bad first date story, the funny celebrity story, the embarrassing story, the sympathetic story, etc. When we talk to people, usually new people you meet, certain "triggers" in the conversation will naturally lead to you telling one of those stories. Sometimes the triggers are obvious ("Have you ever been on a blind date?") and sometimes they are subtle ("Sorry, I'm such a klutz").

In interviews, you need to have your stories ready: hard worker, accomplished, overcome obstacles, leader, intelligent, etc. You don't need a story for each, since most will incorporate several of these themes. The game in an interview is to pounce on a "trigger" that allows you to tell one of your well-crafted stories. (I have 3 strong strong stories), It's in these stories, these 1 minute narratives, that you best sell yourself as a great employee. Don't overlook the importance of conveying a strong overall theme or message in your interview, while also giving the interviewer stories (sound bites) to relay back to hiring partners or legal recruiters.

Obviously, between these stories you are attempting to make a personal connection with the interviewer.

Thinking about it now, it's almost exactly what a politician does in a debate. They answer the questions directly for a moment and then slip into a broader (scripted) response that incorporates their overall theme.

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A Swift
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Re: 1L firm interview - preparing stories?

Postby A Swift » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:52 pm

bdubs wrote:I have yet to experience a law interview where they ask "traditional" interview questions, but if you do get one you should be ready.

Don't practice reciting your stories, but if someone says "Tell me about a time when you had to work in a team that didn't function well," you better damn well not say every team you've ever been on has functioned perfectly. There are a set of standard interview question categories that you need stories which can be molded to fit into. Every interviewer will phrase them differently or emphasize a different point, but you should have a story ready to go for all of them or you risk sounding unprepared/inexperienced.

Key categories:
Leadership
Teamwork
Adversity/hardship (this has several subcategories including teamwork, managing relationships w/superiors, and personal improvement)
Perseverance (aka I know how to work hard to achieve something)


I agree with this advice, except to say that you shouldn't wait for an interviewer to ask about "a time when you had to work in a team that didn't function well." You should have the answer to this question already built into a story which also hits some of the other "key categories", but in a package that would allow you to tell the story at any number of openings or triggers.

Most common is: Why law? That should be your knock them out of the ballpark story.

bdubs
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Re: 1L firm interview - preparing stories?

Postby bdubs » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:12 pm

A Swift wrote:I agree with this advice, except to say that you shouldn't wait for an interviewer to ask about "a time when you had to work in a team that didn't function well." You should have the answer to this question already built into a story which also hits some of the other "key categories", but in a package that would allow you to tell the story at any number of openings or triggers.

Most common is: Why law? That should be your knock them out of the ballpark story.


I disagree that you should proactively bring up stories about all of the categories I described above. Your story for why you want to go to law school should sell your qualities as an employee for that firm, not tell them about the time you got f*cked over and had to work to make the situation better.

Having been through a handful of interviews for 1L positions, I can relay that most of the traditional interview questions never came up. I was very successful just talking to people about my interests and how they played into the work that their firms did. No need to force something in that was never brought up.




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