Interview Questions - Big Firm NYC

(On Campus Interviews, Summer Associate positions, Firm Reviews, Tips, ...)
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are revealing sensitive employment related information about a firm, job, etc. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned.
iago2010
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 10:07 pm

Interview Questions - Big Firm NYC

Postby iago2010 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:18 am

Hi all,

Looking to prepare for interviews. I've love to hear questions people received for large NYC firms, especially for Paul Weiss, Cravath, and Skadden. Of course I know the most obvious ones: "why this firm", "why NYC", "tell me more about X on your resume." I'm hoping to prepare for the unexpected questions (you can interpret this question broadly - unexpected may be because it was insightful, outside the scope of normal questions, offensive, etc.).

Thanks!

Hutz_and_Goodman
Posts: 1413
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:42 am

Re: Interview Questions - Big Firm NYC

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Sun Feb 16, 2014 12:11 pm

What interviews are you talking about: 1L summer?

User avatar
jbagelboy
Posts: 9651
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:57 pm

Re: Interview Questions - Big Firm NYC

Postby jbagelboy » Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:11 pm

1L Summer hiring is mostly over for these firms or at least in callback mode. But from my experience (anecdotal of course) I didn't receive any unexpected or off the wall questions. How well you can speak to any/every item on your resume and link it in a comprehensive narrative to your interest in practicing some area(s) of law will define your performance.

Others could tell you more about 2L OCI. Those interviews tend to be 20 min and besides talking about how you like law school, what type of law you are interested in and how the firm fits into that interest, 1L summer job and possibly pre-LS relevant employment, they may ask you about a legal issue or class topic (OCI interviewers have told me they like to ask about a "legal argument" you've had to make) and have a short, hopefully interesting convo about it. This is the one thing that didn't happen in any of my 1L interviews.

Also I can't see Cravath asking people "Why Cravath." Seems pretty self-explanatory.

User avatar
brotherdarkness
Posts: 3254
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:11 pm

Re: Interview Questions - Big Firm NYC

Postby brotherdarkness » Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:01 am

.
Last edited by brotherdarkness on Mon Jun 30, 2014 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
Posts: 273572
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Interview Questions - Big Firm NYC

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 17, 2014 8:25 am

brotherdarkness wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:1L Summer hiring is mostly over for these firms or at least in callback mode. But from my experience (anecdotal of course) I didn't receive any unexpected or off the wall questions. How well you can speak to any/every item on your resume and link it in a comprehensive narrative to your interest in practicing some area(s) of law will define your performance.


Re: 2L OCI. I rarely had questions about whether I was enjoying law school and only one firm asked me about a legal issue (that discussion turned into an argument and the interview went downhill very, very quickly). I was asked about my pre-LS employment, my 1L summer, and why I am interested in a particular area of law in every interview. That said, most of my interviews were fairly conversational and many were about things entirely unrelated to the law. I interviewed with the entire V10 (sans WLRK :cry: ) and every single firm asked "why us?" It may seem self-explanatory, but if your only answer concerns prestige, it's not going to be pretty.

Anyhow, as far as the non-football/food/etc. interview fodder is concerned, most of the V10 firms were very interested in why I was interested in transactional work. I don't have a finance background and law school pushes you towards litigation, so if you're like me you're going to want to have a solid narrative crafted.


This is very bad advice. When I interview applicants at my top tier firm, the best, by far, answer to the "why us" question is "because this firm has a preeminent transactional practice." No need for website cites - if I want to test whether you read Chambers, I will follow up to elicit that separately. Note that you don't need to be at Cravath to use this approach - it works at any firm good enough so that you don't sound like an idiot for saying it (i.e., works at Debevoise, works at Kirkland, etc.). It has the advantage of truth.

Similarly, you do not need a transactional narrative. It's a simple answer. "you were an art history major and worked before law school teaching second grade. Why transactional work?" "Because I'm interested in deal work. I could do either but transactional is what gets me excited."

Explaining yourself, rationalizing - these are all weak moments in the interview that should be minimized. Every second you spend explaining the backstory of why you switched from animal husbandry to M&A is a second you're not pitching yourself as an excellent candidate. I don't need a good rationale, I just need to look in your eyes and believe that this is what you want to do. You can convince anyone with a very short answer said with convinction.

As to what to expect - context matters. If your grades are way above our (informal) cutoff at a top school, I'm primarily checking to see if you're insane, then assuming you're not, I'm recruiting you. A 3.8 from NYU with social skills is going to get an offer regardless of how many cappuccinos they made during their post college career as a barista. My job is to get you to accept your offer, and the friendlier your interviews seem, the more likely that is.

Alternatively, you could be a marginal candidate - lower GPA from a feeder, or a top student at a second rate school. Now the interview is both a recruiting exercise and a test. And you test people, primarily, by stressing them; either emotionally, intellectually, or both. I will read your resume beforehand, ID the weak points, and drill like an oilman. McKinsey has a great thing they tell applicants before they interview - have multiple answers to key questions, because they're going to keep asking. "Why did you leave your first job so soon?" "I got an offer I couldn't pass up at this second place." "Why did you get that offer at that time?" (Long pause). "Um, I didn't get the offer in college and then they were short a couple of people and called me." In the end it was a fair response, but the long pause, the fidgety hands, the stammering - that guy got a mediocre review from me right then.

The whole point is that you can't prepare for every question, but you need to be prepared to be forced off script, to be made uncomfortable, and to be cool the whole time no matter what they throw at you. What's the best reason to hire one guy over the other, same (marginal) GPA, same school? It's not to take the nicest guy, because plenty of nice guys are shitty workers. It's to take the guy with adequate social skills who can eat up stress and come back from more.

That being said - adequate social skills is super important. If I can't stand being with you in a room for 30 min, how could I manage you for 3 months on a deal? But there are lots of way to skin that cat - I've worked with total nerds that are a breeze to manage, total bros, and everywhere in between. Frattiness or extroversion does not correlate that well with professional social graces.

iago2010
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 10:07 pm

Re: Interview Questions - Big Firm NYC

Postby iago2010 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:01 pm

Thank you everyone for your answers, and a special thanks to Anonymous for a glimpse into the mind of the interviewer. Your post is gold for me as I’m thinking about my interview prep. If you don’t mind, I have a follow-up question, which is: how do you go about identifying weak points in a resume? Is it just where a narrative doesn’t make sense? Is there a bias that you approach a resume with (for example, short-lived jobs or a degree in humanities)?

And one more question for everyone – how often have you had to demonstrate knowledge about current legal events or firm-specific events (e.g., representing a new big client in some matter)? Did you just simply reference the event, or did you talk in depth about it?

User avatar
Tiago Splitter
Posts: 15524
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:20 am

Re: Interview Questions - Big Firm NYC

Postby Tiago Splitter » Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:40 pm

iago2010 wrote:And one more question for everyone – how often have you had to demonstrate knowledge about current legal events or firm-specific events (e.g., representing a new big client in some matter)? Did you just simply reference the event, or did you talk in depth about it?

I was never once expected to know anything about the firm's clients or any ongoing representations.

Specific questions related to the law only came up regarding the work I had done over the summer. And out of dozens of interviews maybe only 2-3 really wanted to go in-depth about the substance of the research I had done.

UnderrateOverachieve
Posts: 412
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:34 pm

Re: Interview Questions - Big Firm NYC

Postby UnderrateOverachieve » Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:48 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:
iago2010 wrote:And one more question for everyone – how often have you had to demonstrate knowledge about current legal events or firm-specific events (e.g., representing a new big client in some matter)? Did you just simply reference the event, or did you talk in depth about it?

I was never once expected to know anything about the firm's clients or any ongoing representations.

Specific questions related to the law only came up regarding the work I had done over the summer. And out of dozens of interviews maybe only 2-3 really wanted to go in-depth about the substance of the research I had done.


Type in the law firm's name into google and hit news. If there is anything big enough that you should randomly know it, it will appear there.

User avatar
Gatriel
Posts: 2015
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:30 pm

Re: Interview Questions - Big Firm NYC

Postby Gatriel » Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:58 pm

My experience with big law;

If you have the grades and aren't a social retard, you have a better chance than most applying.




Return to “Legal Employment”

Who is online

The online users are hidden on this forum.