Interviewing Pet Peeves

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enibs

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Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby enibs » Thu Aug 04, 2016 10:36 pm

I generally enjoy interviewing law students, most of whom are pretty interesting and engaging - if I didn't, I wouldn't do as much of it as I do. But I have some pet peeves that I thought I'd share with you so that, hopefully, you can avoid them.

1. Scripted answers. Yes, you should think generally in advance about how you want to answer common questions. But I don't want to be interviewing an actor giving me rehearsed lines. It's always obvious and never helpful.

2. Self-promotion. Don't try to turn every answer into an explanation of why you're great, how you were given opportunities no one else got, how impressive it is that you got into xyz program at your school or xyz position at your job. If what you've done is impressive, I'll notice. You don't have to tell me it's impressive.

3. Avoiding eye contact. There are a handful of people every year who look into the corner of the room, or out the window, when talking to me. Is it really that painful to look at me? Huge red flag.

4. Talking too fast. I get that you may be nervous, and when you're nervous, you may speed up the conversation. But it's really difficult to have a normal conversation when you're talking a mile a minute and I can't get a word in edgewise. I've never encountered an interviewee who spoke too slowly, so better to err in that direction.

5. Talking too loud. I'm not sure what the explanation for this one is, but every year I get a couple of people who think I'm hard of hearing and just blast the volume.

6. Verbal tics. Most of us have them, and I'm not bothered by the occasional "like", "sort of", "you know", etc. But it's hard to have a normal conversation when there's a verbal tic in every sentence. I'm like you know sort of put off by that.

7. Resume entries that you're not prepared to talk about. I think this one's obvious. If you don't remember something well enough, or are otherwise not prepared to discuss something, don't put it on the resume.

8. Humor. It's okay to display a sense of humor if you're really funny. Most people aren't. A job interview probably isn't the best place to test it.

Hope this is helpful to at least a few of you. And best of luck this interviewing season!

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kellyfrost

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby kellyfrost » Thu Aug 04, 2016 11:20 pm

enibs wrote:I generally enjoy interviewing law students, most of whom are pretty interesting and engaging - if I didn't, I wouldn't do as much of it as I do. But I have some pet peeves that I thought I'd share with you so that, hopefully, you can avoid them.

1. Scripted answers. Yes, you should think generally in advance about how you want to answer common questions. But I don't want to be interviewing an actor giving me rehearsed lines. It's always obvious and never helpful.

2. Self-promotion. Don't try to turn every answer into an explanation of why you're great, how you were given opportunities no one else got, how impressive it is that you got into xyz program at your school or xyz position at your job. If what you've done is impressive, I'll notice. You don't have to tell me it's impressive.

3. Avoiding eye contact. There are a handful of people every year who look into the corner of the room, or out the window, when talking to me. Is it really that painful to look at me? Huge red flag.

4. Talking too fast. I get that you may be nervous, and when you're nervous, you may speed up the conversation. But it's really difficult to have a normal conversation when you're talking a mile a minute and I can't get a word in edgewise. I've never encountered an interviewee who spoke too slowly, so better to err in that direction.

5. Talking too loud. I'm not sure what the explanation for this one is, but every year I get a couple of people who think I'm hard of hearing and just blast the volume.

6. Verbal tics. Most of us have them, and I'm not bothered by the occasional "like", "sort of", "you know", etc. But it's hard to have a normal conversation when there's a verbal tic in every sentence. I'm like you know sort of put off by that.

7. Resume entries that you're not prepared to talk about. I think this one's obvious. If you don't remember something well enough, or are otherwise not prepared to discuss something, don't put it on the resume.

8. Humor. It's okay to display a sense of humor if you're really funny. Most people aren't. A job interview probably isn't the best place to test it.

Hope this is helpful to at least a few of you. And best of luck this interviewing season!


Let me be the first to thank you for the unsolicited advice, OP.
Regards,
No One
Last edited by kellyfrost on Sat Jan 27, 2018 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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RSN

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby RSN » Thu Aug 04, 2016 11:30 pm

You seem like kind of a jerk

lavarman84

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby lavarman84 » Thu Aug 04, 2016 11:42 pm

enibs wrote:6. Verbal tics. Most of us have them, and I'm not bothered by the occasional "like", "sort of", "you know", etc. But it's hard to have a normal conversation when there's a verbal tic in every sentence. I'm like you know sort of put off by that.


I think it was good advice. I appreciate you posting it. But I do have to disagree with this. I understand this is your perception, but it's a bit unfair. Most people have verbal tics. You can reduce verbal tics by preparing an answer. But you just said it comes off as inauthentic.(and it does) So I'd say be a bit more patient with this. When you're asking people to improvise on the spot, it'll be hard to do it without the verbal tics. They're generally filler for when a person is trying to think about what they're saying. It's unconscious in nature.

I can understand it being noticeable if they keep doing it. But I don't think once a sentence is that bad. Often, you'll ask the question and then get the "Uhhhh..." as the person thinks about the answer.

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IsThisForReal

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby IsThisForReal » Thu Aug 04, 2016 11:56 pm

Once a sentence is awful. And you can easily get over it. Pick your most common tic and recruit a friend to slam their hand one the table every time you do it. After several long conversations with said friend you'll see a huge difference.
Last edited by IsThisForReal on Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

lavarman84

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby lavarman84 » Thu Aug 04, 2016 11:59 pm

IsThisForReal wrote:Once a sentence is awful. And you can easily get over it. Pick your most common tic and recruit a friend to slam their hand one the table every time you do it. After several long conversations with said friend you'll see a huge difference.


Or need a new friend because his hand is throbbing from slamming the table repeatedly.

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IsThisForReal

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby IsThisForReal » Fri Aug 05, 2016 12:02 am

lawman84 wrote:
IsThisForReal wrote:Once a sentence is awful. And you can easily get over it. Pick your most common tic and recruit a friend to slam their hand one the table every time you do it. After several long conversations with said friend you'll see a huge difference.


Or need a new friend because his hand is throbbing from slamming the table repeatedly.

It just has to be a noticeable sign. They could snap their fingers or press a button on their phone to make anoise go off. Anything you'll notice
Last edited by IsThisForReal on Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Aug 05, 2016 12:42 am

lawman84 wrote:
enibs wrote:6. Verbal tics. Most of us have them, and I'm not bothered by the occasional "like", "sort of", "you know", etc. But it's hard to have a normal conversation when there's a verbal tic in every sentence. I'm like you know sort of put off by that.


I think it was good advice. I appreciate you posting it. But I do have to disagree with this. I understand this is your perception, but it's a bit unfair. Most people have verbal tics. You can reduce verbal tics by preparing an answer. But you just said it comes off as inauthentic.(and it does) So I'd say be a bit more patient with this. When you're asking people to improvise on the spot, it'll be hard to do it without the verbal tics. They're generally filler for when a person is trying to think about what they're saying. It's unconscious in nature.

I can understand it being noticeable if they keep doing it. But I don't think once a sentence is that bad. Often, you'll ask the question and then get the "Uhhhh..." as the person thinks about the answer.

There's a lot of room between noticeable verbal tics and robot-like preparation. And you can just train yourself not to use them.

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby Ghostwritethewhip » Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:41 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
lawman84 wrote:
enibs wrote:6. Verbal tics. Most of us have them, and I'm not bothered by the occasional "like", "sort of", "you know", etc. But it's hard to have a normal conversation when there's a verbal tic in every sentence. I'm like you know sort of put off by that.


I think it was good advice. I appreciate you posting it. But I do have to disagree with this. I understand this is your perception, but it's a bit unfair. Most people have verbal tics. You can reduce verbal tics by preparing an answer. But you just said it comes off as inauthentic.(and it does) So I'd say be a bit more patient with this. When you're asking people to improvise on the spot, it'll be hard to do it without the verbal tics. They're generally filler for when a person is trying to think about what they're saying. It's unconscious in nature.

I can understand it being noticeable if they keep doing it. But I don't think once a sentence is that bad. Often, you'll ask the question and then get the "Uhhhh..." as the person thinks about the answer.

There's a lot of room between noticeable verbal tics and robot-like preparation. And you can just train yourself not to use them.


Second this. In conversations with close friends/family, I use more fillers than a Kardashian after spending an hour in the Valley (think: "um, like, so, yeah, or whatever"). However, I can almost count the total number of times I've said "um" or "like" in an interview because I force myself to be cognizant of what's coming out of my mouth in professional settings. Absent a speech condition of some sort, I think nearly everyone is capable of learning how to control most verbal tics.

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby wons » Fri Aug 05, 2016 5:51 am

.
Last edited by wons on Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby Genius » Fri Aug 05, 2016 1:43 pm

wons wrote:

Another perspective:

1 - Scripted answers. Disagree with above poster. I like and expect them for scripted questions; I.e., There are some questions so obvious that if you haven't prepared a script for them, I take it as a sign of lack of preparation. That being said, if you're too scripted, my next question will be "If you were a squirrel, where would you store your acorns?" or something like that. The art of it is knowing how to mix in unscripted conversation to not seem robotic with scripted responses with key points you want to convey.

2 - Self-promotion. Some self promotion is desirable and expected. If your resume jumps out, you can be coy - I don't need to be told why the Harvard Law Review is a good credential - but plenty of backgrounds are opaque to me. If your pre-law school job was at them say, premier graphic design firm in the world, tell me! Cause otherwise I won't notice.

3 - Eye contact. Don't care about this. I recognize its awkward for some folks to stare lovingly into my eyes for 20 minutes. I reckon you won't need to do it much as a lawyer. You have to demonstrate a near-autistic aversion before it's an issue.

4 - Talking too fast. This is as much regional speech patterns as anything else. A lot of partners at my firm talk at warp speed. Hell, there's a good argument that smart folks talk faster than dullards. I think it's insane to consider this.

5 - Talking too loud. See above. Barring loudness that is so out of place it suggests some sort of social dysfunction, why would I care?

6 - Verbal tics. This also makes no sense to me. Why would you ding someone for being nervous? Does nervousness in interview settings correlate with legal ability?

7 - Talking about your resume. 100% agree with OP. If it's on your resume, it's fair game. If you're not ready to speak about it, it is a fatal lack of preparation.

8 - Humor. Like loud talking, unless the jokes are outside of social norms for an interview, I don't care. You won't be hired for being funny, fwiw.

I don't think my answers or OPs answers are "right" or "wrong", but they evidence that there is no one way to skin the cat and no easy trick to please all your interviewers. So basically, be smart and prepared and recognize that some small fraction of folks who interview you simply won't like the cut of your jib and there's very little you can do to fix that.


Although I am not a partner I agree on all of these points, especially the nervous part. I never understood why sounding a little nervous had anything to do with... anything related to being an associate. If anything it makes her sound human and normal.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Aug 05, 2016 2:34 pm

I think there's also difference between sounding nervous, and using a zillion verbal tics, though. You may be more likely to "you know, like, I mean" when you're nervous, but they're still different things.

(To be clear, I don't hire anyone, and agree that this all shows that different things annoy different interviewers. But I do think people going into law benefit from training themselves out of using verbal tics in formal situations.)

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby ruski » Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:14 pm

another interviewer chiming in: I don't care for any of the above really. I mainly look for if they will be a good junior. are they a flight risk. do they actually want to be a corporate lawyer. will they bail on me on the weekends when I need them. I've dinged people for having a resume that screams public interest, for someone telling me they want to be a lawyer because their dad is one (but he's not a corporate lawyer which is why I was confused - so you want to be a corporate lawyer because your dad is an estates lawyer in long island?), I've even dinged someone for putting something political on a resume I disagreed with (not something generic like republican club, but an actual position I am personally against - why do people put sensitive topics on a resume? maybe its immature for me to ding them because of this, but hey I also consider it a form of bad judgment to put such things on a resume).

I don't care much for awkwardness, personal skills, etc. I think in a 20 minute, structured/fake environment like an interview you won't learn anything of value about the person. when I was interviewing there was one partner who was super friendly and nice, and we got along great. then after starting with the firm did a deal with him and he was literally insane - apparently has the worst reputation in the firm. but a super personal guy outside work. working with someone on a deal and having a casual conversation someone are two TOTALLY different things, and being good at the latter doesn't mean you will be at the former.

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby Rowinguy2009 » Fri Aug 05, 2016 3:17 pm

I think the OP is generally good advice, but I think it's worth noting that with both points 1 and 2 (scripted answers and self promotion), the goal is balance/moderation. Most good interviewers are going to have "go to" anecdotes/lines that they essentially repeat from one interview to the next (even if they have not consciously written out and memorized lines, which I personally have never done). This isn't bad as long as it's not the entire interview.

I also think it's possible, maybe even easy, for scripted lines to come across naturally if you put some effort into making those lines sound natural (don't speak too quickly, pause every now and then as if you're trying to come up with what to say next, even if you know exactly what you are going to say next, etc).

Obviously -- most interviews should contain a healthy serving of self-promotion, just don't respond to a question about your favorite sports team with "I like the Cowboys because they showcase the same strong work ethic that I strive to demonstrate everyday" or something equally awful.

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 05, 2016 10:48 pm

enibs wrote:I generally enjoy interviewing law students, most of whom are pretty interesting and engaging - if I didn't, I wouldn't do as much of it as I do. But I have some pet peeves that I thought I'd share with you so that, hopefully, you can avoid them.

1. Scripted answers. Yes, you should think generally in advance about how you want to answer common questions. But I don't want to be interviewing an actor giving me rehearsed lines. It's always obvious and never helpful.

2. Self-promotion. Don't try to turn every answer into an explanation of why you're great, how you were given opportunities no one else got, how impressive it is that you got into xyz program at your school or xyz position at your job. If what you've done is impressive, I'll notice. You don't have to tell me it's impressive.

3. Avoiding eye contact. There are a handful of people every year who look into the corner of the room, or out the window, when talking to me. Is it really that painful to look at me? Huge red flag.

4. Talking too fast. I get that you may be nervous, and when you're nervous, you may speed up the conversation. But it's really difficult to have a normal conversation when you're talking a mile a minute and I can't get a word in edgewise. I've never encountered an interviewee who spoke too slowly, so better to err in that direction.

5. Talking too loud. I'm not sure what the explanation for this one is, but every year I get a couple of people who think I'm hard of hearing and just blast the volume.

6. Verbal tics. Most of us have them, and I'm not bothered by the occasional "like", "sort of", "you know", etc. But it's hard to have a normal conversation when there's a verbal tic in every sentence. I'm like you know sort of put off by that.

7. Resume entries that you're not prepared to talk about. I think this one's obvious. If you don't remember something well enough, or are otherwise not prepared to discuss something, don't put it on the resume.

8. Humor. It's okay to display a sense of humor if you're really funny. Most people aren't. A job interview probably isn't the best place to test it.

Hope this is helpful to at least a few of you. And best of luck this interviewing season!


I'm interested to see who you hire because it doesn't seem like any of these things are actually related to being a good SA. Also, does anyone else think this is kind of a humble brag? "I'm so awesome that my firm sends me out to interview all the time."

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby Nebby » Fri Aug 05, 2016 10:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
enibs wrote:I generally enjoy interviewing law students, most of whom are pretty interesting and engaging - if I didn't, I wouldn't do as much of it as I do. But I have some pet peeves that I thought I'd share with you so that, hopefully, you can avoid them.

1. Scripted answers. Yes, you should think generally in advance about how you want to answer common questions. But I don't want to be interviewing an actor giving me rehearsed lines. It's always obvious and never helpful.

2. Self-promotion. Don't try to turn every answer into an explanation of why you're great, how you were given opportunities no one else got, how impressive it is that you got into xyz program at your school or xyz position at your job. If what you've done is impressive, I'll notice. You don't have to tell me it's impressive.

3. Avoiding eye contact. There are a handful of people every year who look into the corner of the room, or out the window, when talking to me. Is it really that painful to look at me? Huge red flag.

4. Talking too fast. I get that you may be nervous, and when you're nervous, you may speed up the conversation. But it's really difficult to have a normal conversation when you're talking a mile a minute and I can't get a word in edgewise. I've never encountered an interviewee who spoke too slowly, so better to err in that direction.

5. Talking too loud. I'm not sure what the explanation for this one is, but every year I get a couple of people who think I'm hard of hearing and just blast the volume.

6. Verbal tics. Most of us have them, and I'm not bothered by the occasional "like", "sort of", "you know", etc. But it's hard to have a normal conversation when there's a verbal tic in every sentence. I'm like you know sort of put off by that.

7. Resume entries that you're not prepared to talk about. I think this one's obvious. If you don't remember something well enough, or are otherwise not prepared to discuss something, don't put it on the resume.

8. Humor. It's okay to display a sense of humor if you're really funny. Most people aren't. A job interview probably isn't the best place to test it.

Hope this is helpful to at least a few of you. And best of luck this interviewing season!


I'm interested to see who you hire because it doesn't seem like any of these things are actually related to being a good SA. Also, does anyone else think this is kind of a humble brag? "I'm so awesome that my firm sends me out to interview all the time."

Who said they hire people based on whether they'll be good?

enibs

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Re: Interviewing Pet Peeves

Postby enibs » Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:41 pm

Quite a few assumptions being made in some of these responses. Really I was just trying to be helpful. Everything in my OP is addressable, and if you see yourself in any of them, I think you'll do better if you address them. If you don't care about any of them and/or think no one else will, that's fine too. Not trying to force anyone to change their behavior.

It also ought to go without saying that everything in the OP is a matter of degree. There's a difference between being prepared for questions/having "go-to" anecdotes and coming across like you're reading from a script. There's a difference between telling stories that put yourself in a good light and talking about how great you are. There's a difference between talking briskly and talking so fast that the interviewer has to struggle to find an opening to say anything. There's a difference between the occasional verbal tic and a non-stop barrage of them. At some point, the things I've listed can get in the way of effective communication. And if you don't communicate effectively, your interview will not go as well as it could. And if your interview doesn't go as well as it could, your chances of getting an offer will be reduced.

As for our hiring, we look for law students who we think will be good lawyers. Obviously we look at the whole picture, including your resume, your record, your work experience, your accomplishments, etc. If the rest of the picture is strong enough, it can overcome a weak interview. On the other hand, a good interview can sometimes compensate for some weaknesses in the rest of the picture. So I would have thought that most people would prefer to interview well than to interview poorly.



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