Anonymous User wrote:OCI Interviewer here, every year I have at least 25% of interviews (closer to 50% or over normally) instantly make my job easier by doing one of the following things, making the rest of the interview a formality.
1. Asking about pro bono- my firm does not even have it and many other firms have very limited opportunities. This is a great indication that you are here for a couple years until you can bounce for a PI position.
2. IMPORTANT: Stating you are interested in a practice area my firm does not have or has in a very limited capacity. Please look at NALP directory and only state interest in the practice groups which are in the top 3 or so in number of attorneys. Cannot tell you how many people express and interest in a practice area where (i) we have 4 or fewer attorneys in the office, or (ii) we have no attorneys in the office doing that work (sometimes even in the entire firm!).
3. Stating that you are looking at firms ranked much higher than us. This is a two way street, and we want to offer people who are going to accept. We know law students are in general prestige whores who are going to take the best ranked bid, and this is a great way for us to not waste our time by extending you an offer.
4. Stating that you are looking at firms in a different city than mine. This one boggles my mind when you can just simply say this is the only city you are looking at, how am I ever going to find out you are bs'ing me. I work in a regional city where people without strong ties or other interests tend to leave, and not showing total dedication tends to be a fatal error. I'd say you can ignore this advice for LA/SF/NY, do not ignore for Chicago, Miami, or any other regional cities.
5. Stating that you are looking to go into business/in-house as your ultimate goal. Great, we will go with the candidate who actually has an interest in staying after we train him or her.
6. You want to do real estate because of property law class, you want to corporate because of contracts class, you want to do litigation because you enjoyed civpro, this one always makes me cringe quite a bit.
V10 interviewer here. These represent my personal views, not those of my firm, so make of them what you will:
1: Sort of agree. I don't have any problem with someone being interested in pro bono work, and our firm has amazing pro bono opportunities if you want them, but if you're deciding between firms based on pro bono opps, what does that say about your commitment to doing paying work? If this comes up at all, it should be a very quick question, maybe folded into a question as to whether hours spent on pro bono or client development count towards targets.
2: Sort of agree, but sort of disagree. I think its totally fine to express interest in one of our smaller practice group - lord knows, the world needs another securities lawyer like it needs another polio epidemic - but you should at least be aware its a smaller group within our firm. Asking something like "I know your IP group is small but does some great work, can you tell me a bit about the IP practice here?" is completely reasonable, especially if its a segue from talking about IP generally (like the great IP class you took in the spring).
3: Couldn't care less if you talk about better firms or our peer firms - though you should be a little demure about it, sort of like if you're going out on dates you dont talk about all the other folks you're currently kicking the tires on.
4: Again, don't care - and here I think OP is mistaken, at least with respect to NYC. We know that a lot of applicants might be looking at NYC + a regional market in their hometown, and our job is to pitch them on the merits of working in NYC.
5: Agree, not because it suggests you'll leave after we train you, but because there's an undercurrent of "I want to work 9-6" in saying your ultimate goal is in house.
6: Meh. Y'all sound silly when you talk about wanting to do real estate because you liked Property, but so did I when I was in your shoes. I purposely avoid asking someone if they're more interested in corporate v. lit exactly because there's no way for a 1L to answer it without sounding stupid unless they're some sort of ex-banker or JD/MBA type.
What are my no-nos? I actually think more of "DOs", the things you do want to do, rather than the things you dont, because there are very few true "ding" topics or questions.
DO make clear that you are comfortable with long hours. Do it artfully if possible - I asked an interviewee what her best LS experience was, and she talked about an all-nighter group project. That was artful.
DO make clear that you have genuine enthusiasm for biglaw legal work. I'd rather work with someone whose 5% less competent but actually enjoys the work, than work with the majority of people, who treat work and time in the office like some sort of medieval torture.
DO demonstrate the ability to make small talk. You'll have to do it with clients one day, so we test for that at interviews.
DO show some familiarity with current business events, particularly if indicating any interest in transactional work. This goes to the point above; if you find business so boring that you can't spend 5 minutes glancing at the WSJ as a law student, you're going to hate it when it occupies 10 hours of your day every day.
DO focus on professional development questions rather than quality of life questions, if you need to have a couple of questions in the "hopper" for the "so, do you have any questions?". QoL questions are fine and reasonable, but should wait till you have an offer in hand because they carry a connotation of lack of commitment. Professional development questions show ambition, enthusiasm, an interest in working hard, etc.
DO feel comfortable responding to "do you have any questions?" with "no, this was a great conversation, thank you so much for speaking with me!" If we're 15 minutes in to a 30 minute question and I drop "do you have any questions?" it means i'm out of topics and I'm fishing for help and you should give me one of your prepared questions to run with. (Note, this isn't necessarily a bad thing - it may be that I think you're an amazing candidate and just want you to drive the conversation so that I can pitch you on the stuff that you're worried about!) If we're at minute 29, it means I'm just being polite and you only need to ask me a question if you really have one. Too many folks seem to think that "do you have any questions" demands at least one question in response; its all contextual.