Okay, I've been meaning to write this post, but wanted to wait until August rolled around.
The HLS-Specific Guide to Navigating EIP
There are a few pretty unique features to HLS On-Campus Interviews. The Charles Hotel is a pretty unique place, nearly every firm has a hospitality suite, and there are a ton of cocktail parties and dinners on the week of.
If you used all 35 of your bids, you likely have somewhere between 20 and 30 interviews. Take a second to look over your interview list and make sure that you have your desired mix of "reach," "target," and "safety" firms, whatever that means. If you feel like randomness has led you astray, there are two main opportunities to fix that: as soon as the add/drop period starts, or the morning of the interview day at the Charles. Many firms will see that their schedules have filled and will add 5-10 interview slots to accommodate -- if you really want an interview, be at the hotel at 8:30 that morning and go talk up the OCS people at the desk.
Determine your bid list balance NOW. Do NOT freak out on Tuesday afternoon when you have no callbacks and your friends have 2 and panic-add 5 interviews.
NB: Firms come to HLS to hire HLS students. They do not come to HLS to peruse on the offchance someone exceptional rolls along. Remain calm. OCS will tell you that you shouldn't worry unless Thursday rolls around and you have no callbacks. They're correct. Especially in markets like SF/SV, callbacks come over the course of days and often do not come at all until several days later.
The waiting room
The big conference room in the Charles is maybe the most god-awful place known to mankind. There are some reasons to be here: they have printers, which is awesome; the add/drop table is here, which is useful; and they have food throughout the day, which can be handy at the right times. However, I would highly recommend that you do not spend too much time in the conference room. Early mornings to take your mind off things and grab breakfast are a great time to visit the waiting room, because your friends will be in the same mindset. It can also be good to waste 20 minutes of a 40 minute break between interviews. However, do NOT spend an hour straight in the waiting room. Just don't. Go far, far, far, away. One of your friends, intentionally or not, will turn a callback into theater, and it will get on your nerves. Then other people will start talking (read: complaining) about it, and that will probably get on your nerves, too. Don't be any of those people. Go preserve/regain your sanity somewhere more constructive, like at lunch or at home if you live in Harvard Square.
Hospitality suites are concurrently one of the best and worst things about HLS EIP. They often have pretty good food, and they all have bottles of water (when you're basically talking for 20 straight minutes 5-10 times a day, plus additional time in these suites, you'll soon see why bottles of water are so necessary). Optimal use of the hospitality suite is as follows: show up 10 minutes before your interview, check in if necessary (some firms require this, others don't), strike up an interesting conversation, and head to your interview. Don't bum around too long unless you somehow meet your new soul mate. Don't feel obligated to talk to everyone in the room. Don't feel like you need to keep digging for conversation, because you're not obligated to be there. I actually think that it's easier to destroy a callback in the hospitality suite than it is to create one. Business cards are a good sign, but they'll only get you so far -- I had a couple of incredible conversations in hospitality suites during EIP last year, out of which nothing materialized. Make your presence noticed, and move on. It is NOT a second interview, but you can make it one in a bad way if you peg yourself as a bad personality fit for the firm. It turns out that this is probably a good thing for you to figure out in advance, but at the screener phase when you're trying to keep your options as open as possible, it can be difficult to keep this perspective.
Go to these. They're awesome. You get some drinks, eat some food, and talk to your friends. You make 100% sure to pick up your name tag if you have one. However, again, don't go overboard trying to become a networking machine. Hang out with your friends, meet a few people from the firm, and head out when you feel ready. I think the only mandatory gesture at these things is saying hello to your interviewer, because it will help them remember you. And, if you're remembered, you dramatically increase your chances at a callback. A couple of minutes of graceful conversation with your interviewer outside of the formal interview process can turn a mediocre interview into an almost-guaranteed callback. Again, don't go overboard. There is no pressure to stay in these conversations or events until you feel fried; in fact, that's probably a bad idea.
Your sanity during this week is of paramount importance. Remember, the point of an interview is to see whether or not you fit in to the firm. If your transcript/resume/writing sample aren't otherwise competitive, an interview likely won't make you. This can be sort of freeing, and if you're smart, you will let it free you. Also, remember that at a lot of places, being someone good to work with means being able to have interesting conversations that have nothing to do with law. Don't try to steer conversations back toward your resume or even toward law school and your legal aptitude if it strays elsewhere. Follow the natural flow of things and just TALK TO A PERSON. If you find yourself becoming an interviewing robot that does not seem like who you really are, step back. Cancel interviews if you have to. Leave the site and go far, far away. You do not grind through EIP week. You enjoy yourself, have interesting conversations when possible, and make good impressions. Your job is to prove yourself the person, not yourself the law student.
You are at Harvard. Just relax and be personable, and everything will be okay. Everyone here is capable of getting a firm job, just stay out of your own way and do your best to be comfortable. Don't forget that two sides will get choices during this process: they will choose you, and then you will choose them. Keep yourself open, but also don't ignore the signals that will let you know whether the firm will be a good fit for you. I basically told an interviewer last year at around the 12:00 mark that this just didn't seem like it was for me, and we spent the next 8 minutes talking about how too few students take the opportunity to inform themselves during interviews. Good luck to all of you and feel free to ask me any questions that you'd like.
Last edited by GeePee
on Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.