What are Screeners Looking for?

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Anonymous User
Posts: 273376
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

What are Screeners Looking for?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:05 am

Okay, this is the least important part of this post, but I completely underperformed at OCI:

My stats: Top 10%, lower T14, secondary j., somewhat old, WE (nothing tremendous: sales, mktg, mgmt)
OCI performance:16-ish screeners, 3 CBs, ??? Offers (one rejection thus far)

The more important part: I have been given a do-over: a week full of in-office screeners. Obviously, I am trying to get another round of interviews, but what am I really trying to accomplish in these screeners?

Feedback has given me no clear solutions to whatever my interview problems are, but some have suggested:

1) I am too long-winded and need to give more concise answers.
2) I sound slightly too scripted, especially when I start enumerating (Well the first reason I like firm X). My answers for the more common questions are somewhat canned, how could they not be?
3) I over-answer, giving responses that reveal more than was asked for. Q: "Tell me about yourself." A: "Well, one thing that makes me different from my peers is..."
4) Relatedly, I'm trying too hard to "connect the dots." My career is all over the place, and I want to tell a coherent story, but it's tough. A lot of the deficiencies listed above might just be me trying to tell a coherent story. OCS suggested just assuming I have a coherent story, unless they start asking questions that really hint that they are thinking WTF is this guy about.

Some ideas from my own self-reflection:

1) Maybe I have emphasized my WE too much? Sales management and the related people skills and client-relation skills were one of my selling points, but that shit is not so impressive when all of my classmates have saved AIDS babies and TFA'd. I'm considering exclusively emphasizing my judicial internship, RA'ing, note, etc., instead, and going into my work experience only when asked.
2) In every interview, I talked about music. I used to front a semi-successful regional indie-rock band, and I almost always talked about this, because it's interesting and helps explain my scattered career a bit (see connecting the dots above). Gotten good feedback from my mock interviewers on this, but maybe that's just the difference between mock interviewers and real interviewers. Maybe I'm inadvertently giving the impression that I want to go back into music forever. Maybe they always look up my music and don't like it. Maybe law firms are conservative, and being in a rock band is just not. So maybe I won't talk about it at all? I have other hobbies. Or I'll say that I had a cover band (we did, sort of, to make $$$ by playing Journey and RHCP at frat parties).
3) At first I went with "relaxed and competent." When I started to get a feeling that OCI wasn't going extremely well, I switched to "ENTHUSIASM!!!" Hmmm.
4) I'm not sure how hard I should sell myself?


Anyways, this is sort of a self-answering question, but I would appreciate any advice/suggestions. What of the above sounds more important/damning? Any general advice from interviewing geniuses, especially someone with a similar background. I feel damned lucky to have some more screeners and don't wanna blow it!

Anonymous User
Posts: 273376
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What are Screeners Looking for?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:14 am

I think you are me. Except I am younger, and thought I was being rejected because people were questioning whether I could handle BigLaw. I come out of most interviews feeling like it was at least an "average" performance, and received no indications to the contrary. But like you, I've seriously underperformed. Wish it was more obvious what it was. The only things I've been aggressively questioned about are things I've had good, OCS-approved answers to.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273376
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What are Screeners Looking for?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:54 am

Seem like a real person. Talk to them like a friend or something. The stuff you talk about is great but it seems like you may come off as too scripted/boring/canned/longwinded. Also talk about unique things about their firm you like. Not just yourself.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273376
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What are Screeners Looking for?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:57 am

Anonymous User wrote:Okay, this is the least important part of this post, but I completely underperformed at OCI:

My stats: Top 10%, lower T14, secondary j., somewhat old, WE (nothing tremendous: sales, mktg, mgmt)
OCI performance:16-ish screeners, 3 CBs, ??? Offers (one rejection thus far)

The more important part: I have been given a do-over: a week full of in-office screeners. Obviously, I am trying to get another round of interviews, but what am I really trying to accomplish in these screeners?

Feedback has given me no clear solutions to whatever my interview problems are, but some have suggested:

1) I am too long-winded and need to give more concise answers.
2) I sound slightly too scripted, especially when I start enumerating (Well the first reason I like firm X). My answers for the more common questions are somewhat canned, how could they not be?
3) I over-answer, giving responses that reveal more than was asked for. Q: "Tell me about yourself." A: "Well, one thing that makes me different from my peers is..."
4) Relatedly, I'm trying too hard to "connect the dots." My career is all over the place, and I want to tell a coherent story, but it's tough. A lot of the deficiencies listed above might just be me trying to tell a coherent story. OCS suggested just assuming I have a coherent story, unless they start asking questions that really hint that they are thinking WTF is this guy about.

Some ideas from my own self-reflection:

1) Maybe I have emphasized my WE too much? Sales management and the related people skills and client-relation skills were one of my selling points, but that shit is not so impressive when all of my classmates have saved AIDS babies and TFA'd. I'm considering exclusively emphasizing my judicial internship, RA'ing, note, etc., instead, and going into my work experience only when asked.
2) In every interview, I talked about music. I used to front a semi-successful regional indie-rock band, and I almost always talked about this, because it's interesting and helps explain my scattered career a bit (see connecting the dots above). Gotten good feedback from my mock interviewers on this, but maybe that's just the difference between mock interviewers and real interviewers. Maybe I'm inadvertently giving the impression that I want to go back into music forever. Maybe they always look up my music and don't like it. Maybe law firms are conservative, and being in a rock band is just not. So maybe I won't talk about it at all? I have other hobbies. Or I'll say that I had a cover band (we did, sort of, to make $$$ by playing Journey and RHCP at frat parties).
3) At first I went with "relaxed and competent." When I started to get a feeling that OCI wasn't going extremely well, I switched to "ENTHUSIASM!!!" Hmmm.
4) I'm not sure how hard I should sell myself?


Anyways, this is sort of a self-answering question, but I would appreciate any advice/suggestions. What of the above sounds more important/damning? Any general advice from interviewing geniuses, especially someone with a similar background. I feel damned lucky to have some more screeners and don't wanna blow it!


FYI, I have a very similar WE background and also underpreformed relative to my classmates. I wish I knew what it was as well. I was questioned alot on why law, given ur succesful non-law background.

Watermelon Man
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:55 pm

Re: What are Screeners Looking for?

Postby Watermelon Man » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:27 am

Anonymous User wrote:Okay, this is the least important part of this post, but I completely underperformed at OCI:

My stats: Top 10%, lower T14, secondary j., somewhat old, WE (nothing tremendous: sales, mktg, mgmt)
OCI performance:16-ish screeners, 3 CBs, ??? Offers (one rejection thus far)

The more important part: I have been given a do-over: a week full of in-office screeners. Obviously, I am trying to get another round of interviews, but what am I really trying to accomplish in these screeners?

Feedback has given me no clear solutions to whatever my interview problems are, but some have suggested:

1) I am too long-winded and need to give more concise answers.
2) I sound slightly too scripted, especially when I start enumerating (Well the first reason I like firm X). My answers for the more common questions are somewhat canned, how could they not be?
3) I over-answer, giving responses that reveal more than was asked for. Q: "Tell me about yourself." A: "Well, one thing that makes me different from my peers is..."
4) Relatedly, I'm trying too hard to "connect the dots." My career is all over the place, and I want to tell a coherent story, but it's tough. A lot of the deficiencies listed above might just be me trying to tell a coherent story. OCS suggested just assuming I have a coherent story, unless they start asking questions that really hint that they are thinking WTF is this guy about.

Some ideas from my own self-reflection:

1) Maybe I have emphasized my WE too much? Sales management and the related people skills and client-relation skills were one of my selling points, but that shit is not so impressive when all of my classmates have saved AIDS babies and TFA'd. I'm considering exclusively emphasizing my judicial internship, RA'ing, note, etc., instead, and going into my work experience only when asked.
2) In every interview, I talked about music. I used to front a semi-successful regional indie-rock band, and I almost always talked about this, because it's interesting and helps explain my scattered career a bit (see connecting the dots above). Gotten good feedback from my mock interviewers on this, but maybe that's just the difference between mock interviewers and real interviewers. Maybe I'm inadvertently giving the impression that I want to go back into music forever. Maybe they always look up my music and don't like it. Maybe law firms are conservative, and being in a rock band is just not. So maybe I won't talk about it at all? I have other hobbies. Or I'll say that I had a cover band (we did, sort of, to make $$$ by playing Journey and RHCP at frat parties).
3) At first I went with "relaxed and competent." When I started to get a feeling that OCI wasn't going extremely well, I switched to "ENTHUSIASM!!!" Hmmm.
4) I'm not sure how hard I should sell myself?


Anyways, this is sort of a self-answering question, but I would appreciate any advice/suggestions. What of the above sounds more important/damning? Any general advice from interviewing geniuses, especially someone with a similar background. I feel damned lucky to have some more screeners and don't wanna blow it!


The substance of what you are saying sounds fine; maybe the way you talk about your background makes you appear insecure (and turns off interviewers).

Take your music example. First definitely talk about your successful (as opposed to semi-successful) band. Emphasize how you envisioned this career as a musician, so you immersed yourself in music; you dedicated 10 hours a day to writing, practicing, and performing with your band (all while working various full-time jobs on the side); you lived on the tour bus for X days (which was challenging, but you weren't afraid to make a sacrifice to achieve your goals, etc.).

Fast-forward to today: now, you bring this passion to law (evidenced by your grades, obviously, but think of something else to tell your interviewer).

Now, at this point in the conversation, do not drone on about why you went to law school. You did nothing wrong in attending law school, so you need not feel compelled to justify your decision (unless the interviewer specifically asks).

TLDR: Think of your musical background as a SELLING point rather than a JUSTIFICATION for the random jobs listed on your resume.

On the question "why do you want to work here" -- just tell the truth and try to tie in some point about you. You could say you are really interested in entertainment law, and you know this firm is the cream of the crop, represents John Mayer, the Foo Fighters, or whoever. (Obviously sell your rock music background here if you did not already). You could also say you want to work somewhere where you can work and learn as much as possible, and that the firm's free-market system would enable you to do that. Whatever you say, try to convey the message that this firm does exactly what you want to do -- or fosters exactly the type of environment you want -- and you will fit right in because of your background.

Keep in mind, throughout the interview, that you have done nothing wrong -- nothing wrong with pursuing music, nothing wrong with attending law school, nothing wrong with interviewing with this firm, etc.

Sell yourself, be confident, give off positive vibes, and I think you'll do great.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273376
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: What are Screeners Looking for?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:29 pm

Watermelon Man wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Okay, this is the least important part of this post, but I completely underperformed at OCI:

My stats: Top 10%, lower T14, secondary j., somewhat old, WE (nothing tremendous: sales, mktg, mgmt)
OCI performance:16-ish screeners, 3 CBs, ??? Offers (one rejection thus far)

The more important part: I have been given a do-over: a week full of in-office screeners. Obviously, I am trying to get another round of interviews, but what am I really trying to accomplish in these screeners?

Feedback has given me no clear solutions to whatever my interview problems are, but some have suggested:

1) I am too long-winded and need to give more concise answers.
2) I sound slightly too scripted, especially when I start enumerating (Well the first reason I like firm X). My answers for the more common questions are somewhat canned, how could they not be?
3) I over-answer, giving responses that reveal more than was asked for. Q: "Tell me about yourself." A: "Well, one thing that makes me different from my peers is..."
4) Relatedly, I'm trying too hard to "connect the dots." My career is all over the place, and I want to tell a coherent story, but it's tough. A lot of the deficiencies listed above might just be me trying to tell a coherent story. OCS suggested just assuming I have a coherent story, unless they start asking questions that really hint that they are thinking WTF is this guy about.

Some ideas from my own self-reflection:

1) Maybe I have emphasized my WE too much? Sales management and the related people skills and client-relation skills were one of my selling points, but that shit is not so impressive when all of my classmates have saved AIDS babies and TFA'd. I'm considering exclusively emphasizing my judicial internship, RA'ing, note, etc., instead, and going into my work experience only when asked.
2) In every interview, I talked about music. I used to front a semi-successful regional indie-rock band, and I almost always talked about this, because it's interesting and helps explain my scattered career a bit (see connecting the dots above). Gotten good feedback from my mock interviewers on this, but maybe that's just the difference between mock interviewers and real interviewers. Maybe I'm inadvertently giving the impression that I want to go back into music forever. Maybe they always look up my music and don't like it. Maybe law firms are conservative, and being in a rock band is just not. So maybe I won't talk about it at all? I have other hobbies. Or I'll say that I had a cover band (we did, sort of, to make $$$ by playing Journey and RHCP at frat parties).
3) At first I went with "relaxed and competent." When I started to get a feeling that OCI wasn't going extremely well, I switched to "ENTHUSIASM!!!" Hmmm.
4) I'm not sure how hard I should sell myself?


Anyways, this is sort of a self-answering question, but I would appreciate any advice/suggestions. What of the above sounds more important/damning? Any general advice from interviewing geniuses, especially someone with a similar background. I feel damned lucky to have some more screeners and don't wanna blow it!


The substance of what you are saying sounds fine; maybe the way you talk about your background makes you appear insecure (and turns off interviewers).

Take your music example. First definitely talk about your successful (as opposed to semi-successful) band. Emphasize how you envisioned this career as a musician, so you immersed yourself in music; you dedicated 10 hours a day to writing, practicing, and performing with your band (all while working various full-time jobs on the side); you lived on the tour bus for X days (which was challenging, but you weren't afraid to make a sacrifice to achieve your goals, etc.).

Fast-forward to today: now, you bring this passion to law (evidenced by your grades, obviously, but think of something else to tell your interviewer).

Now, at this point in the conversation, do not drone on about why you went to law school. You did nothing wrong in attending law school, so you need not feel compelled to justify your decision (unless the interviewer specifically asks).

TLDR: Think of your musical background as a SELLING point rather than a JUSTIFICATION for the random jobs listed on your resume.

On the question "why do you want to work here" -- just tell the truth and try to tie in some point about you. You could say you are really interested in entertainment law, and you know this firm is the cream of the crop, represents John Mayer, the Foo Fighters, or whoever. (Obviously sell your rock music background here if you did not already). You could also say you want to work somewhere where you can work and learn as much as possible, and that the firm's free-market system would enable you to do that. Whatever you say, try to convey the message that this firm does exactly what you want to do -- or fosters exactly the type of environment you want -- and you will fit right in because of your background.

Keep in mind, throughout the interview, that you have done nothing wrong -- nothing wrong with pursuing music, nothing wrong with attending law school, nothing wrong with interviewing with this firm, etc.

Sell yourself, be confident, give off positive vibes, and I think you'll do great.


Wow, this is probably the best advice I've received yet, and also got me pumped up and excited! Sometimes these boards can be negative, but this is both genuinely positive, and genuinely helpful. Thanks!




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