Interview questions you've been asked

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Pokemon
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby Pokemon » Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:38 pm

f0bolous wrote:Where are you from? What's your nationality? Are you an American citizen?


All three of them are not allowed. The only ones allowed would be 1) are you legally allowed to work in the US and 2) will you need sponsorship in order to work in the US?

I think overall biglaw interviewers are trained not to ask such questions.

Anonymous User
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:43 pm

Pokemon wrote:
f0bolous wrote:Where are you from? What's your nationality? Are you an American citizen?


All three of them are not allowed. The only ones allowed would be 1) are you legally allowed to work in the US and 2) will you need sponsorship in order to work in the US?

I think overall biglaw interviewers are trained not to ask such questions.


You would expect so, but they still ask them at times. I was asked in a BigLaw interview this month. It related to something else on my resume, but it was a clear question.

BostonLove
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby BostonLove » Sat Aug 10, 2013 4:48 pm

law321 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
law321 wrote:Biglaw OCI interviewer here. I read these boards occasionally and figured it may be helpful to answer questions/provide some insight.

When I interview people, I focus almost exclusively on personality and the candidate's ability to hold a casual, intelligent conversation. Oddball questions aren't really my style, but they do serve a purpose - the interviewer can evaluate your ability to handle uncomfortable questions, which happens often when counseling clients.

More generally, the worst candidate is one who takes himself too seriously, cannot comfortably hold a conversation, who comes across as entitled, who cannot talk about his resume comprehensively or answer the lay-up questions (e.g., why law school, why this firm, etc), and who does not seem interested enough to ask questions. The best candidate is kind, intelligent, confident (but NOT arrogant), has a sense of humor, knows his resume inside and out, answers the lay-up questions appropriately, and asks me plenty of questions.

If you have specific questions, fire away.


What would you expect to hear from someone who has corporate experience prior to law school? I am trying to find the balance between marketing myself as having a solid business background, but I want to make sure I am not crossing the line to make it seem like I want a shortcut. I realize that my career will be be setting up entities to start, but I want to provide that I have a solid foundation to build from, that will distinguish me from others.


One response (of many) that would be acceptable to me is that you have prior business experience, you enjoyed the [collaborative, interpersonal, constructive, etc] nature of business-related work, and you have some insight into how clients view transactional issues/needs. Taken together, those things suggest you'd be a natural fit.


Thank you for answering this - I also found it helpful in terms of other things to emphasize in an interview.

Is there anything you can say that really helps or hurts an interview? I'm talking about beyond coming off as arrogant. I am quiet and typically shy, so I am not sure how well I come across in interviews (I've done mock ones, which go well, but I don't know from the actual interviewer's perspective) and would like to know more. I don't think I come off as arrogant, but I am wondering if I come across as someone you'd like to work with on late nights and all that - because I don't tend to be joking and all until I know someone. Sorry, I know that is a very broad question and individual explanation.

Also, do you notice when people use their hands a lot during an interview? I have cut back so I barely use my hands for emphasis now, but I'm curious how much this actually matters.

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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:15 pm

Jimbo_Jones wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
law321 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
How in the world do you evaluate whether someone is kind in an interview?


I infer whether the person seems nice/kind/pleasant from our conversation and general demeanor. You'd be surprised...some people come across as very arrogant and confrontational right off the bat. Even with otherwise sterling credentials, I am not recommending that person receive a callback/offer.


How in the world can you tell if someone is arrogant? Who starts an interview with "well I am better than you so dance for me."?

But most important, what's the right way to sit if you're a man? Hands clasped in front of your groin? Hands resting on your lap? Legs open, arms on your legs, palms down (power position)? Legs crossed, knees locked? Legs crossed, knees unlocked? Back straight up against the chair? Leaning back, shoulders back? Leaning forward, shoulders back? Leaning forward, shoulders dropped?



You're incredulous about an interviewer's ability to pick up on certain personality traits based on a candidate's demeanor, yet you're concerned that an interviewer will notice whether you've chosen the "right way" to sit?


Yes.

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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:19 pm

I sat up straight with my legs uncrossed, leaned forward, and usually had my hands on the table. OCI just ended and I've received no CBs so far. Since my grades are good, I'm extroverted and social, and I smiled and had good conversations during most of my interviews, could the way I chose to sit been what torpedoed me?

Gorki
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby Gorki » Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:31 pm

"What was your least favorite class in law school?"

This Q comes up a lot, even as 3l. It is an oddball too... Some see it as an icebreaker to vent about LS... some expect a "make this negative a positive Q"

E.g.: "My least favorite class was crim. I had a great professor and it was enjoyable, but I do not want to practice crim so it just felt like a class I was taking because all 1Ls had to take it."

Other e.g.: "I hated bankruptcy b/c its taught by [insert notoriously hated prof from the school, knowing the interviewer went to your school] and it was just terrible"

... i hate that question

Anonymous User wrote:I sat up straight with my legs uncrossed, leaned forward, and usually had my hands on the table. OCI just ended and I've received no CBs so far. Since my grades are good, I'm extroverted and social, and I smiled and had good conversations during most of my interviews, could the way I chose to sit been what torpedoed me?


You are over thinking it. Biglaw is gradually moving to the point where we cannot say "still ITE" anymore; ITE is the new normal. The mannerisms you described might rub a specific subset of interviewers in some way... but there are many interviewers who would not care.

I would set up mock interviews if you have not already. See if there is something in your presentation that is off. Otherwise, just keep mass mailing. OCI is no longer a golden ticket to SA, even at a T14 (maybe even not good enough at a T6, but I don't know enuff)

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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I sat up straight with my legs uncrossed, leaned forward, and usually had my hands on the table. OCI just ended and I've received no CBs so far. Since my grades are good, I'm extroverted and social, and I smiled and had good conversations during most of my interviews, could the way I chose to sit been what torpedoed me?


What about if there is no table? How you sit is on full display.

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Danger Zone
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby Danger Zone » Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:52 pm

Are you people joking right now? If not, I've read that you should mimic your interviewer (if they are leaned on the table, you should too; sitting back? You should too).

But seriously, it's probably the least important thing, right down there with "I heard if you don't use any hair product you won't get an offer."

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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:31 pm

"What's your passion?"

Asked by a midlaw partner. It turns out the guy didn't care about my passion, he just wanted to tell me about his pro bono cases that he works on when he's not "winning in the courtroom for Fortune 1000 companies." I guess his advice was for me to pursue my passion in my spare time.

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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:51 pm

when I asked someone who interned with me at the same firm "do you like this place?" and he said " why would I stay here if I don't like it" instead of "yeah, I really like it," I know the person is confrontational.

Anonymous User wrote:
law321 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
law321 wrote:Biglaw OCI interviewer here. I read these boards occasionally and figured it may be helpful to answer questions/provide some insight.

When I interview people, I focus almost exclusively on personality and the candidate's ability to hold a casual, intelligent conversation. Oddball questions aren't really my style, but they do serve a purpose - the interviewer can evaluate your ability to handle uncomfortable questions, which happens often when counseling clients.

More generally, the worst candidate is one who takes himself too seriously, cannot comfortably hold a conversation, who comes across as entitled, who cannot talk about his resume comprehensively or answer the lay-up questions (e.g., why law school, why this firm, etc), and who does not seem interested enough to ask questions. The best candidate is kind, intelligent, confident (but NOT arrogant), has a sense of humor, knows his resume inside and out, answers the lay-up questions appropriately, and asks me plenty of questions.

If you have specific questions, fire away.


How in the world do you evaluate whether someone is kind in an interview?


I infer whether the person seems nice/kind/pleasant from our conversation and general demeanor. You'd be surprised...some people come across as very arrogant and confrontational right off the bat. Even with otherwise sterling credentials, I am not recommending that person receive a callback/offer.


How in the world can you tell if someone is arrogant? Who starts an interview with "well I am better than you so dance for me."?

But most important, what's the right way to sit if you're a man? Hands clasped in front of your groin? Hands resting on your lap? Legs open, arms on your legs, palms down (power position)? Legs crossed, knees locked? Legs crossed, knees unlocked? Back straight up against the chair? Leaning back, shoulders back? Leaning forward, shoulders back? Leaning forward, shoulders dropped?

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guano
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby guano » Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:02 pm

Danger Zone wrote:Are you people joking right now? If not, I've read that you should mimic your interviewer (if they are leaned on the table, you should too; sitting back? You should too).

But seriously, it's probably the least important thing, right down there with "I heard if you don't use any hair product you won't get an offer."

Mirror his every move, in sync

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moonman157
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby moonman157 » Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:04 pm

Ohiobumpkin wrote:Interviewer: "If you were a pencil trapped in a blender, how would you get out?"
Me: "Uhhh...."


Did you end up giving more of an answer than "uhhh" just out of curiosity because that is a really weird question and I have no idea how you could answer it to give the interviewer a better impression of you

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FlightoftheEarls
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:22 am

moonman157 wrote:
Ohiobumpkin wrote:Interviewer: "If you were a pencil trapped in a blender, how would you get out?"
Me: "Uhhh...."


Did you end up giving more of an answer than "uhhh" just out of curiosity because that is a really weird question and I have no idea how you could answer it to give the interviewer a better impression of you

I haven't interviewed candidates yet (and I certainly wouldn't ask a question like this), but I think the answer I'd be most impressed with would be a simple "I don't think I could, unfortunately." There are plenty of times in law where you want to give a miracle answer or provide an innovative interpretation that will save your client from some undesirable issue, but you just can't do it because you know it's simply too much of a stretch. It's an okay thing to recognize that, and perhaps that's what the interviewer wanted to hear because it's probably one of the hardest answers to give.

NYstate
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby NYstate » Sun Aug 11, 2013 8:18 am

FlightoftheEarls wrote:
moonman157 wrote:
Ohiobumpkin wrote:Interviewer: "If you were a pencil trapped in a blender, how would you get out?"
Me: "Uhhh...."


Did you end up giving more of an answer than "uhhh" just out of curiosity because that is a really weird question and I have no idea how you could answer it to give the interviewer a better impression of you

I haven't interviewed candidates yet (and I certainly wouldn't ask a question like this), but I think the answer I'd be most impressed with would be a simple "I don't think I could, unfortunately." There are plenty of times in law where you want to give a miracle answer or provide an innovative interpretation that will save your client from some undesirable issue, but you just can't do it because you know it's simply too much of a stretch. It's an okay thing to recognize that, and perhaps that's what the interviewer wanted to hear because it's probably one of the hardest answers to give.



This is the type of question asked by places like Microsoft to test problem solving skills and creativity. Most law firms don't ask these kinds of questions.

But the interviewer asked it wrong: the question is " if you were shrunk to the size of a pencil..." Not if you were a pencil. Pencils don't have brains or arms and legs. :roll:

After OCI, for fun you should look up the kind of questions asked by some tech companies. They vary between specific tests of knowledge and crazy problem solving skills.

law321
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby law321 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:38 am

BostonLove wrote:
law321 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
law321 wrote:Biglaw OCI interviewer here. I read these boards occasionally and figured it may be helpful to answer questions/provide some insight.

When I interview people, I focus almost exclusively on personality and the candidate's ability to hold a casual, intelligent conversation. Oddball questions aren't really my style, but they do serve a purpose - the interviewer can evaluate your ability to handle uncomfortable questions, which happens often when counseling clients.

More generally, the worst candidate is one who takes himself too seriously, cannot comfortably hold a conversation, who comes across as entitled, who cannot talk about his resume comprehensively or answer the lay-up questions (e.g., why law school, why this firm, etc), and who does not seem interested enough to ask questions. The best candidate is kind, intelligent, confident (but NOT arrogant), has a sense of humor, knows his resume inside and out, answers the lay-up questions appropriately, and asks me plenty of questions.

If you have specific questions, fire away.


What would you expect to hear from someone who has corporate experience prior to law school? I am trying to find the balance between marketing myself as having a solid business background, but I want to make sure I am not crossing the line to make it seem like I want a shortcut. I realize that my career will be be setting up entities to start, but I want to provide that I have a solid foundation to build from, that will distinguish me from others.


One response (of many) that would be acceptable to me is that you have prior business experience, you enjoyed the [collaborative, interpersonal, constructive, etc] nature of business-related work, and you have some insight into how clients view transactional issues/needs. Taken together, those things suggest you'd be a natural fit.


Thank you for answering this - I also found it helpful in terms of other things to emphasize in an interview.

Is there anything you can say that really helps or hurts an interview? I'm talking about beyond coming off as arrogant. I am quiet and typically shy, so I am not sure how well I come across in interviews (I've done mock ones, which go well, but I don't know from the actual interviewer's perspective) and would like to know more. I don't think I come off as arrogant, but I am wondering if I come across as someone you'd like to work with on late nights and all that - because I don't tend to be joking and all until I know someone. Sorry, I know that is a very broad question and individual explanation.

Also, do you notice when people use their hands a lot during an interview? I have cut back so I barely use my hands for emphasis now, but I'm curious how much this actually matters.


Fair question.

I (and likely the vast majority of other interviewers) fully understand that not everyone is an extrovert. I will not immediately ding an applicant who is a bit more shy/quiet. So, if that's your personality, just relax and be yourself.

From a general level, I think the biggest thing that helps an interview is the applicant's comfort level. By that I mean, you are able to control your nervousness (I of course realize everyone tends to be a bit nervous). Conversely, being so nervous/timid/quiet you do not give me substantive answers (i.e., short, terse answers to questions that are fairly general) is not a positive.

law321
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby law321 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:51 am

NYstate wrote:
FlightoftheEarls wrote:
moonman157 wrote:
Ohiobumpkin wrote:Interviewer: "If you were a pencil trapped in a blender, how would you get out?"
Me: "Uhhh...."


Did you end up giving more of an answer than "uhhh" just out of curiosity because that is a really weird question and I have no idea how you could answer it to give the interviewer a better impression of you

I haven't interviewed candidates yet (and I certainly wouldn't ask a question like this), but I think the answer I'd be most impressed with would be a simple "I don't think I could, unfortunately." There are plenty of times in law where you want to give a miracle answer or provide an innovative interpretation that will save your client from some undesirable issue, but you just can't do it because you know it's simply too much of a stretch. It's an okay thing to recognize that, and perhaps that's what the interviewer wanted to hear because it's probably one of the hardest answers to give.



This is the type of question asked by places like Microsoft to test problem solving skills and creativity. Most law firms don't ask these kinds of questions.

But the interviewer asked it wrong: the question is " if you were shrunk to the size of a pencil..." Not if you were a pencil. Pencils don't have brains or arms and legs. :roll:

After OCI, for fun you should look up the kind of questions asked by some tech companies. They vary between specific tests of knowledge and crazy problem solving skills.


If I asked this question (even in the incorrect form) I would expect you to verbalize your reasoning process and assumptions. For example, "assuming I am a pencil with arms, x. Assuming I have a brain and can speak, Y. Assuming neither is the case, Z. There is obviously no right answer. But, failing to "talk it out" would amount to a poor response.

Anonymous User
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:04 pm

Are biglaw interviewers good interviewers? Meaning, you're not human resources professionals trained in all the subtleties and mechanics of an interview. You're just lawyers, many really good lawyers, who have no particular qualification to judge an applicant's qualities from a 20 minute interview. Do you receive training? How do you know you're making the right decisions?

A different question: how often do you ding candidates you thought would work well at the firm? Is there any significant truth to the "we just had to choose; you were really good, but we didn't have room for you?"

Anonymous User
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:09 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Are biglaw interviewers good interviewers? Meaning, you're not human resources professionals trained in all the subtleties and mechanics of an interview. You're just lawyers, many really good lawyers, who have no particular qualification to judge an applicant's qualities from a 20 minute interview. Do you receive training? How do you know you're making the right decisions?

A different question: how often do you ding candidates you thought would work well at the firm? Is there any significant truth to the "we just had to choose; you were really good, but we didn't have room for you?"

ITE why would a firm hire more than they need?
In times past, top talent was scarce and firms had the income to hire talent they didn't need yet, if they could snap them up. Today, highly qualified law students are in abundance and there's no risk of not being able to fill a vacancy

Anonymous User
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Aug 11, 2013 5:47 pm

law321 wrote:If I asked this question (even in the incorrect form) I would expect you to verbalize your reasoning process and assumptions. For example, "assuming I am a pencil with arms, x. Assuming I have a brain and can speak, Y. Assuming neither is the case, Z. There is obviously no right answer. But, failing to "talk it out" would amount to a poor response.


"Well, I'd probably try to run up the side of the blender, but given that it's nearly a vertical surface, I'd really have to get the lead out."

Appropriate because it shows a sense of humor, or inappropriate because the interviewer might think you're treating the interview as a joke?

law321
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby law321 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:03 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Are biglaw interviewers good interviewers? Meaning, you're not human resources professionals trained in all the subtleties and mechanics of an interview. You're just lawyers, many really good lawyers, who have no particular qualification to judge an applicant's qualities from a 20 minute interview. Do you receive training? How do you know you're making the right decisions?

A different question: how often do you ding candidates you thought would work well at the firm? Is there any significant truth to the "we just had to choose; you were really good, but we didn't have room for you?"


I would like to think we do a good job. Personally, I don't think it's rocket science, and, like interviewing in any other field, decisions are ultimately made based on the impression left on the interviewer. The system is imperfect, but that's how it works.

We do receive some training. But, the best interviewer is naturally a "people person" who has very strong interpersonal skills and an ability to reasonably assess personality based on a short interaction.

law321
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby law321 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 6:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Are biglaw interviewers good interviewers? Meaning, you're not human resources professionals trained in all the subtleties and mechanics of an interview. You're just lawyers, many really good lawyers, who have no particular qualification to judge an applicant's qualities from a 20 minute interview. Do you receive training? How do you know you're making the right decisions?

A different question: how often do you ding candidates you thought would work well at the firm? Is there any significant truth to the "we just had to choose; you were really good, but we didn't have room for you?"



Sometimes the group of candidates is very strong. Under such circumstances, tough decisions need to be made and students who otherwise would have a strong shot at an offer in another hiring season may not receive a callback/offer.

law321
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Re: Interview questions you've been asked

Postby law321 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:42 pm

How in the world can you tell if someone is arrogant? Who starts an interview with "well I am better than you so dance for me."?

But most important, what's the right way to sit if you're a man? Hands clasped in front of your groin? Hands resting on your lap? Legs open, arms on your legs, palms down (power position)? Legs crossed, knees locked? Legs crossed, knees unlocked? Back straight up against the chair? Leaning back, shoulders back? Leaning forward, shoulders back? Leaning forward, shoulders dropped?[/quote][/quote]

Arrogance often sticks out like a sore thumb. It's easy to spot.

There is no right way to sit. There is only a wrong way to sit - sitting in a way where your body language indicates to me you are not interested in my firm. For instance, I would notice you leaning back, slumping in your chair and crossing your arms.

Add to that short, non-substantive responses to standard interview questions, a failure to make eye contact when answering questions, questions that indicate to me the applicant assumes I should be actively try to convince him to come on board (i.e., questions comparing my firm to another in a way that suggests my firm is inferior to the other firm in some regard)...this all suggests the applicant is not genuinely interested in my firm, wasted my time, and needlessly took up an interview spot (read: arrogant).




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