Comments about fit = boilerplate or criticism?

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Anonymous User
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Comments about fit = boilerplate or criticism?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:48 pm

At both screeners and callbacks, from both partners and associates, I've received comments to the effect that my credentials are good enough to "find a job," but that I will be choosing firms based on "fit." On the one hand, I realize this is boilerplate. Every firm says it to students they believe are qualified because it's a way of saying that the firm is a good place to work, and that a student should choose that firm even if s/he maybe believes that another firm has a stronger reputation/prestige. On the other hand, I've also received helpful/constructive comments from a partner that my liberal arts background made him/her skeptical when I said I wanted to do corporate work, or even work in BigLaw in general. I've also significantly underperformed my numbers.

This brings me to the question: Are these comments something that firms say to you even if they are giving you a CB/offer, or do they hint at something deeper -- i.e., is everyone "secretly" saying what this partner said to me bluntly. Note: I am not asking the "does this mean I got an offer or not?" question. I am asking whether this is something that I need to start taking as a criticism, and maybe start being a bit more confident/aggressive in interviews, or whether this is just meaningless boilerplate that can be ignored. It's usually framed in a way that makes it seem as if the firm is trying to woo me, but I wonder if it might be a subtle hint that *I* don't seem to be a fit.

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OneMoreLawHopeful
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Re: Comments about fit = boilerplate or criticism?

Postby OneMoreLawHopeful » Tue Sep 04, 2012 4:33 pm

I don't think it means anything beyond what it says: fit is important.

What you might want to think about is whether or not you are being prompted to explain WHY you fit in, rather than being told upfront that you don't fit. This is especially important if, as you say, some of your numbers are lacking.

As for the liberal arts background, I hardly think that matters unless by "corporate work" you are actually referring to something ultra-specific, like tax, where they might want to see a more specific background. That particular statement sounds like more of a brush off than a legit criticism. Half of all law students were english and lit majors, so a liberal arts background is hardly unusual. I understand that you may have developed rapport with the partner, but that could only make it harder for him to say something honest, rather than more easy.

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glitter178
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Re: Comments about fit = boilerplate or criticism?

Postby glitter178 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 4:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:At both screeners and callbacks, from both partners and associates, I've received comments to the effect that my credentials are good enough to "find a job," but that I will be choosing firms based on "fit." On the one hand, I realize this is boilerplate. Every firm says it to students they believe are qualified because it's a way of saying that the firm is a good place to work, and that a student should choose that firm even if s/he maybe believes that another firm has a stronger reputation/prestige. On the other hand, I've also received helpful/constructive comments from a partner that my liberal arts background made him/her skeptical when I said I wanted to do corporate work, or even work in BigLaw in general. I've also significantly underperformed my numbers.

This brings me to the question: Are these comments something that firms say to you even if they are giving you a CB/offer, or do they hint at something deeper -- i.e., is everyone "secretly" saying what this partner said to me bluntly. Note: I am not asking the "does this mean I got an offer or not?" question. I am asking whether this is something that I need to start taking as a criticism, and maybe start being a bit more confident/aggressive in interviews, or whether this is just meaningless boilerplate that can be ignored. It's usually framed in a way that makes it seem as if the firm is trying to woo me, but I wonder if it might be a subtle hint that *I* don't seem to be a fit.


i'm confused by your post. partners and attorneys told you at the screener/ CB stage that you need to find a firm based on fit? that seems so weird. why would you be talking about that? I thought the importance of "fit" is implicitly understood.

I second the above comment about the partner's skepticism about your background. I have plenty of friends with liberal arts degrees who indicated they wanted to do corporate work who got offers, and were not questioned about their lib. arts backgrounds.

bigredforlaw
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Re: Comments about fit = boilerplate or criticism?

Postby bigredforlaw » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:43 pm

I have also been told at least twice by a partner that I have a good resume and will probably get to pick based on "fit." One guy was a hiring partner at a V100. When he said this we had been talking about scheduling a second look since the office was empty (Friday afternoon in August) and one of my senior associate interviewers canceled with no replacement. I felt like he wanted me to spell out why I am a good fit and would choose their firm over others. I also do NOT have good grades (I am unranked but comfortably above median) and do not have "real" work experience so I though he must say this to everyone. I think this question helped me more than the firm because, while I was so focused on selling myself in the interview, I was forced to think like the buyer and describe what I wanted out of a job other than work in a particular practice area (which is my go-to/truthful answer). The other possibility is that the interviewer is just one of those people who likes to talk about themselves and give advice. During a screener a partner said I should be able to choose by fit and that he was fortunate enough to do this himself. He then walked me through how he chose his initial firm, how he chose to lateral into this firm, and how he got into his speciality. It's been 3 weeks and I haven't heard from this firm yet...so who knows!

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Re: Comments about fit = boilerplate or criticism?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:46 am

OP here.

Bigred, thanks for the helpful comments. I just wanted to make sure other people were hearing this. I don't know why glitter finds this so strange -- I thought it was something firms always said if you have strong credentials. By "underperforming my numbers," I meant doing worse with interviews than my school/GPA would suggest, not doing poorly academically.

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ilovesf
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Re: Comments about fit = boilerplate or criticism?

Postby ilovesf » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:49 am

glitter178 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:At both screeners and callbacks, from both partners and associates, I've received comments to the effect that my credentials are good enough to "find a job," but that I will be choosing firms based on "fit." On the one hand, I realize this is boilerplate. Every firm says it to students they believe are qualified because it's a way of saying that the firm is a good place to work, and that a student should choose that firm even if s/he maybe believes that another firm has a stronger reputation/prestige. On the other hand, I've also received helpful/constructive comments from a partner that my liberal arts background made him/her skeptical when I said I wanted to do corporate work, or even work in BigLaw in general. I've also significantly underperformed my numbers.

This brings me to the question: Are these comments something that firms say to you even if they are giving you a CB/offer, or do they hint at something deeper -- i.e., is everyone "secretly" saying what this partner said to me bluntly. Note: I am not asking the "does this mean I got an offer or not?" question. I am asking whether this is something that I need to start taking as a criticism, and maybe start being a bit more confident/aggressive in interviews, or whether this is just meaningless boilerplate that can be ignored. It's usually framed in a way that makes it seem as if the firm is trying to woo me, but I wonder if it might be a subtle hint that *I* don't seem to be a fit.


i'm confused by your post. partners and attorneys told you at the screener/ CB stage that you need to find a firm based on fit? that seems so weird. why would you be talking about that? I thought the importance of "fit" is implicitly understood.

I second the above comment about the partner's skepticism about your background. I have plenty of friends with liberal arts degrees who indicated they wanted to do corporate work who got offers, and were not questioned about their lib. arts backgrounds.

Fit has been brought up to me at almost every interview. Not necessarily those words, but about how much they like their co-workers, character of the firm, work atmosphere, etc. I don't know why you would think that would be weird.

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Re: Comments about fit = boilerplate or criticism?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:51 am

Also I should be clear -- the partner didn't frame it how I did, "liberal arts background," it was more about being a K-JD and whether I'd have the right level of commitment given my past experience.

-OP

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Re: Comments about fit = boilerplate or criticism?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:57 am

ilovesf wrote:
glitter178 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:At both screeners and callbacks, from both partners and associates, I've received comments to the effect that my credentials are good enough to "find a job," but that I will be choosing firms based on "fit." On the one hand, I realize this is boilerplate. Every firm says it to students they believe are qualified because it's a way of saying that the firm is a good place to work, and that a student should choose that firm even if s/he maybe believes that another firm has a stronger reputation/prestige. On the other hand, I've also received helpful/constructive comments from a partner that my liberal arts background made him/her skeptical when I said I wanted to do corporate work, or even work in BigLaw in general. I've also significantly underperformed my numbers.

This brings me to the question: Are these comments something that firms say to you even if they are giving you a CB/offer, or do they hint at something deeper -- i.e., is everyone "secretly" saying what this partner said to me bluntly. Note: I am not asking the "does this mean I got an offer or not?" question. I am asking whether this is something that I need to start taking as a criticism, and maybe start being a bit more confident/aggressive in interviews, or whether this is just meaningless boilerplate that can be ignored. It's usually framed in a way that makes it seem as if the firm is trying to woo me, but I wonder if it might be a subtle hint that *I* don't seem to be a fit.


i'm confused by your post. partners and attorneys told you at the screener/ CB stage that you need to find a firm based on fit? that seems so weird. why would you be talking about that? I thought the importance of "fit" is implicitly understood.

I second the above comment about the partner's skepticism about your background. I have plenty of friends with liberal arts degrees who indicated they wanted to do corporate work who got offers, and were not questioned about their lib. arts backgrounds.

Fit has been brought up to me at almost every interview. Not necessarily those words, but about how much they like their co-workers, character of the firm, work atmosphere, etc. I don't know why you would think that would be weird.



Yeah, exactly, "not necessarily those words," whereas the OP quoted the word "fit" specifically. More importantly, It was unclear to me why firms were consistently talking to OP about how he/ she would select between firms instead of focusing on the firm at hand, which is why I asked OP to clarify.

Anonymous User
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Re: Comments about fit = boilerplate or criticism?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:02 am

The word "fit" has been used. I guess that *is* unusual / bad news, then? IIRC it was mostly at screeners, and not at CBs. I don't know what you want me to clarify. A lot of my interviewers did talk about picking in general. We also talked about that particular firm. I really try to ask narrow/specific/thoughtful questions, and I've done the same research anyone else has, so if these are weird responses from interviewers, I don't know why I'm getting them. Guess I'm just wondering if it's specifically my initial theory in the OP, or more general poor interviewing.

-OP

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Re: Comments about fit = boilerplate or criticism?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Sep 05, 2012 2:18 am

Anonymous User wrote:The word "fit" has been used. I guess that *is* unusual / bad news, then? IIRC it was mostly at screener dings, and not at CBs. I don't know what you want me to clarify. A lot of my interviewers did talk about picking in general. We also talked about that particular firm. I really try to ask narrow/specific/thoughtful questions, and I've done all my research, so if these are weird responses from interviewers, I don't know why I'm getting them.

-OP


Yes, and I'm sorry if I'm not communicating effectively myself, I was just trying to pull a bit more information from you in order to try to (potentially?) offer advice. The problem is that there are so many firms and so many types of interviewers, interviewees, and other scenarios that it can be hard to determine from a few sentences/ paragraphs why (or if!) you're doing well or poorly. My original question was really just towards why they would be talking about fit at the screener/ CB stage when there is so much more to talk about at that point. For me, I didnt get the "fit" conversations until post-offer. However, there are excellent ways to spin this in your favor if you really want the gig: explain WHY you fit in X firm. "yes, I'm k-I'd, but I'm ready to start at the very bottom and to prove myself every step of the way." (your strength over those who are older and have more work experience?: that you're fresh and less jaded, ready to please and to start from the bottom and work up slowly.) acknowledge that you realize that nothing in you life to this point will be or has been as important to you or your career as an associate at X firm. And all the while, smile and nod. And make jokes, if you are known as funny. Otherwise, refrain.

Edited: please excuse typos. I'm typing from my iPad.

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gyarados
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Re: Comments about fit = boilerplate or criticism?

Postby gyarados » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:45 am

Anonymous User wrote:The word "fit" has been used. I guess that *is* unusual / bad news, then? IIRC it was mostly at screeners, and not at CBs. I don't know what you want me to clarify. A lot of my interviewers did talk about picking in general. We also talked about that particular firm. I really try to ask narrow/specific/thoughtful questions, and I've done the same research anyone else has, so if these are weird responses from interviewers, I don't know why I'm getting them. Guess I'm just wondering if it's specifically my initial theory in the OP, or more general poor interviewing.

-OP

It's not bad news. Interviewers are bored as shit and say all kinds of ridiculous shit. This isn't even on the meter as far as strange things I heard at OCI. Just be confident, explain why you think their firm would be a good fit (preempt the conversation), and you'll be fine.




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