Interviewing tips for socially awkward

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Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:08 am

I'm a terrible interviewer. I don't do well in interviews.

TIPS please?

Yeezus Wept

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Yeezus Wept » Sat Aug 13, 2016 11:47 am

I'm going to tell you what i tell everyone. I'm assuming you're a dude. Learn about NFL football and put it on your interest section. Pick a team that makes sense for you and learn the basics of it. You now have a solid chance at getting a few "sports" interviews. These are incredibly easy and have saved my ass many times. If you are interviewing with someone who likes football, and like 85% of American men do, being able to bullshit about the Giant's revamped defense or exactly how much of a shit show Chip Kelly's tenure in San Francisco is going to be is an incredibly easy way to have a conversational, relaxed aspect of your interview. If you then nail you questions and know your resume front to back, you are in good shape.

Also, interest in sports is an indicator to many folks that you are "normal". I assume from the fact that you are asking this question on TLS that you are not only socially awkward, you are probably unattractive and somewhere on the spectrum. Being a football fan is a signal that despite outward appearances, you are actually someone your interviewing may enjoy getting a beer with.

I am constantly bemused by the legions of awkward law students I know that are aware of their social shortcomings and do nothing about it. There is no magic formula to be charismatic, you aren't going to wake up one day and be charming/attractive. But developing an interest in something that a large number of people you are interviewing with are interested in is a concrete, affirmative way to try and mitigate your weakness. So yeah, if you just went through OCI this is probably too late for you, but for all the 0L lurkers here you might want to heed my advice.

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checkers

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby checkers » Sat Aug 13, 2016 12:08 pm

Yeezus Wept wrote:I'm going to tell you what i tell everyone. I'm assuming you're a dude. Learn about NFL football and put it on your interest section. Pick a team that makes sense for you and learn the basics of it. You now have a solid chance at getting a few "sports" interviews. These are incredibly easy and have saved my ass many times. If you are interviewing with someone who likes football, and like 85% of American men do, being able to bullshit about the Giant's revamped defense or exactly how much of a shit show Chip Kelly's tenure in San Francisco is going to be is an incredibly easy way to have a conversational, relaxed aspect of your interview. If you then nail you questions and know your resume front to back, you are in good shape.

Also, interest in sports is an indicator to many folks that you are "normal". I assume from the fact that you are asking this question on TLS that you are not only socially awkward, you are probably unattractive and somewhere on the spectrum. Being a football fan is a signal that despite outward appearances, you are actually someone your interviewing may enjoy getting a beer with.

I am constantly bemused by the legions of awkward law students I know that are aware of their social shortcomings and do nothing about it. There is no magic formula to be charismatic, you aren't going to wake up one day and be charming/attractive. But developing an interest in something that a large number of people you are interviewing with are interested in is a concrete, affirmative way to try and mitigate your weakness. So yeah, if you just went through OCI this is probably too late for you, but for all the 0L lurkers here you might want to heed my advice.

The above is terrible advice. You cannot pickup football well enough to discuss "the Giant's [sic] revamped defense" in time for upcoming interviews. That takes years, in which time you could instead find a hobby that you actually enjoy and can talk about. A good conversation doesn't require both participants to be well-versed in the subject. If you have something that you are genuinely interested in and can convey that so that your interviewer is likewise engaged, you just checked at least three boxes for them: [x] can carry on a conversation, [x] has a life outside of school, [x] could see myself working with this person. Trying to cultivate an interest that isn't genuinely felt is a recipe for disaster, especially when it concerns an interest that "85% of American men" have. You would quickly be found out as a fraud, which is much worse than simply being a little awkward. Just try to better yourself by being interested in something, and the side effect will be that you'll be a better interviewer.

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Kratos » Sat Aug 13, 2016 12:17 pm

try to do as many practice interviews as you can

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 13, 2016 12:24 pm

checkers wrote:
Yeezus Wept wrote:I'm going to tell you what i tell everyone. I'm assuming you're a dude. Learn about NFL football and put it on your interest section. Pick a team that makes sense for you and learn the basics of it. You now have a solid chance at getting a few "sports" interviews. These are incredibly easy and have saved my ass many times. If you are interviewing with someone who likes football, and like 85% of American men do, being able to bullshit about the Giant's revamped defense or exactly how much of a shit show Chip Kelly's tenure in San Francisco is going to be is an incredibly easy way to have a conversational, relaxed aspect of your interview. If you then nail you questions and know your resume front to back, you are in good shape.

Also, interest in sports is an indicator to many folks that you are "normal". I assume from the fact that you are asking this question on TLS that you are not only socially awkward, you are probably unattractive and somewhere on the spectrum. Being a football fan is a signal that despite outward appearances, you are actually someone your interviewing may enjoy getting a beer with.

I am constantly bemused by the legions of awkward law students I know that are aware of their social shortcomings and do nothing about it. There is no magic formula to be charismatic, you aren't going to wake up one day and be charming/attractive. But developing an interest in something that a large number of people you are interviewing with are interested in is a concrete, affirmative way to try and mitigate your weakness. So yeah, if you just went through OCI this is probably too late for you, but for all the 0L lurkers here you might want to heed my advice.

The above is terrible advice. You cannot pickup football well enough to discuss "the Giant's [sic] revamped defense" in time for upcoming interviews. That takes years, in which time you could instead find a hobby that you actually enjoy and can talk about. A good conversation doesn't require both participants to be well-versed in the subject. If you have something that you are genuinely interested in and can convey that so that your interviewer is likewise engaged, you just checked at least three boxes for them: [x] can carry on a conversation, [x] has a life outside of school, [x] could see myself working with this person. Trying to cultivate an interest that isn't genuinely felt is a recipe for disaster, especially when it concerns an interest that "85% of American men" have. You would quickly be found out as a fraud, which is much worse than simply being a little awkward. Just try to better yourself by being interested in something, and the side effect will be that you'll be a better interviewer.

Agreed. That advice is not good. I go to a school in the South and just went through OCI and was pretty successful in getting CBs. I'm not the most outgoing person and have never followed football, but rather a less popular sport here in the states. Football was rarely a topic of conversation in my interviews and if it came up, I was honest about what I know about it (basically nothing). Be genuine.

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Yeezus Wept » Sat Aug 13, 2016 12:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
checkers wrote:
Yeezus Wept wrote:I'm going to tell you what i tell everyone. I'm assuming you're a dude. Learn about NFL football and put it on your interest section. Pick a team that makes sense for you and learn the basics of it. You now have a solid chance at getting a few "sports" interviews. These are incredibly easy and have saved my ass many times. If you are interviewing with someone who likes football, and like 85% of American men do, being able to bullshit about the Giant's revamped defense or exactly how much of a shit show Chip Kelly's tenure in San Francisco is going to be is an incredibly easy way to have a conversational, relaxed aspect of your interview. If you then nail you questions and know your resume front to back, you are in good shape.

Also, interest in sports is an indicator to many folks that you are "normal". I assume from the fact that you are asking this question on TLS that you are not only socially awkward, you are probably unattractive and somewhere on the spectrum. Being a football fan is a signal that despite outward appearances, you are actually someone your interviewing may enjoy getting a beer with.

I am constantly bemused by the legions of awkward law students I know that are aware of their social shortcomings and do nothing about it. There is no magic formula to be charismatic, you aren't going to wake up one day and be charming/attractive. But developing an interest in something that a large number of people you are interviewing with are interested in is a concrete, affirmative way to try and mitigate your weakness. So yeah, if you just went through OCI this is probably too late for you, but for all the 0L lurkers here you might want to heed my advice.

The above is terrible advice. You cannot pickup football well enough to discuss "the Giant's [sic] revamped defense" in time for upcoming interviews. That takes years, in which time you could instead find a hobby that you actually enjoy and can talk about. A good conversation doesn't require both participants to be well-versed in the subject. If you have something that you are genuinely interested in and can convey that so that your interviewer is likewise engaged, you just checked at least three boxes for them: [x] can carry on a conversation, [x] has a life outside of school, [x] could see myself working with this person. Trying to cultivate an interest that isn't genuinely felt is a recipe for disaster, especially when it concerns an interest that "85% of American men" have. You would quickly be found out as a fraud, which is much worse than simply being a little awkward. Just try to better yourself by being interested in something, and the side effect will be that you'll be a better interviewer.

Agreed. That advice is not good. I go to a school in the South and just went through OCI and was pretty successful in getting CBs. I'm not the most outgoing person and have never followed football, but rather a less popular sport here in the states. Football was rarely a topic of conversation in my interviews and if it came up, I was honest about what I know about it (basically nothing). Be genuine.


Whatever. You can sit there in your drum circle and tell OP to be a better interviewer through the power of magical thinking, but that isn't going to help him at all. I find it hard to believe that a T14 law student can't pick up a football preview and learn enough about the Jets to fake it for five minutes, and for reasons above if OP was able to do this it would be very beneficial for him.

Telling someone to be "genuine" and their true self when their true self is a weirdo is ridiculous, especially when they need a job to pay off the 200k Sword of Damocles hanging over their head.

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Aug 13, 2016 12:42 pm

I mean, if their true self is such a weirdo as you're presuming, they're not going to be able to pull off talking about a sport they don't know much about in any helpful fashion. Awkwardly shoehorning memorized football tidbits into conversation isn't any better than any other kind of awkward conversation.

To the extent the point is to be able to have an interesting conversation about non-law, social stuff, that makes sense, but easier said than done sometimes - an interview is a completely artificial setting.

(This is of course leaving aside the assumptions that the OP is a dude, that the advice doesn't apply if you're not a dude(?), and that your interviewer is going to be a dude who wants to talk about football.)

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby zot1 » Sat Aug 13, 2016 12:49 pm

Be yourself.

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:01 pm

I realize that this is easier said than done, but be confident in yourself (without being cocky). I was a shitty as hell awkward interviewer when I came out of undergrad and barely managed to get a job. It was mostly because I wasn't confident about my abilities and myself and came off hella nervous.

At some point I figured out the insecurity thing, got a lot more confident about talking about myself, and now I rarely get nervous in interviews. I realize that it's hard to tell someone how to do that, but one suggestion that's worked for me is to treat your interviewer like a peer, rather than like a superior with the power to give you a job. After you shake hands and are going to sit down, ask them how their day is going before they have a chance to ask you. That starts the small talk and usually sets the tone for a more collegial conversation rather than an interrogation about your resume. When they ask you about stuff on your resume, don't try too hard to pitch and sell yourself, tell them about your jobs like you would tell your mom if she was a lawyer and asked about them.

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Yeezus Wept » Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:18 pm

While i think the criticisms of my strategy are valid, no one here has given OP any concrete advice, besides the suggestion to do as many practice interviews as possible which is great advice. "Just be confident" is entirely useless.

Instead OP, i would imagine yourself as your ideal you - I like to spend half an hour before every interviewing pretending that I am Achilles or a young Tom Cruise. This involves lying in a dark room with my eyes closed and the soundtrack to either Troy or Top Gun playing in the background depending on my mood, while I imagine slaughtering Trojans in the Aegean surf or playing beach volleyball with Goose. By the end of this ritual, I look and feel like a Greek demi-god or - sometimes and - Maverick.

I then don my suit and make sure I get to my interview before the effects wear off. By the time I sit down at that awkward hotel table, i've already won.

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:37 pm

OP here, I'm actually a she.

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:58 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a terrible interviewer. I don't do well in interviews.

TIPS please?


Why don't you do well, specifically?

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Frayed Knot » Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:58 pm

I agree with the above advice to be/appear confident. And I agree that saying "be confident," without more, doesn't get you very far—it's hard to will yourself into confidence.

I think the solution is to find something that make you confident, whatever that is. It that happens to be listening to the Top Gun soundtrack (?), then by all means do that. That wouldn't do anything for me, but if it works for you, great.

A couple of things that have worked for me:

Power posing, as explained by this Ted Talk. The idea is that by standing in a posture that is associated with power (basically, anything that takes up more space, like a wide stance and having your hands on your hips), you'll actually trigger hormonal changes that lead to more confidence—a bit like how forcing yourself to smile can make you happier. The science on power posing isn't unequivocal, but it works for a lot of people, and many studies have found a significant effect.

The other thing that worked for me is adopting what the book Quiet calls the hail-fellow-and-well-met tone: basically, pumping up the volume/energy level of my natural conversation a level or two. This can definitely be overdone, but it can absolutely help. Basically, the goal is to come across as being as excited/positive as you can without sounding fake.

Finally, an unrelated tip: make sure your clothes fit as well as possible; get them tailored if necessary. It sucks, and I wish interviews weren't this superficial, but the reality is that it's much harder to appear confident (even if you feel that way) in clothes that are too big.

I hope this is helpful. Interview suck—all the evidence shows that they don't do a great job of selecting good employees. If you're bad at interviewing, it doesn't mean you'd be bad at anything else; it just means that biglaw uses a crummy selection process. That said, there are steps you can take to get better at it. Good luck!

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:59 pm

I am also a socially awkward aspie girl, how should I overcome that in interviews?

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:20 pm

This is probably a trite response, but as a socially awkward person myself, I have found that the best way to get around awkwardness is to go in to an interview feeling totally prepared.

It's hard to do an interview with a sudden magical change in self-perception, especially since I assume you are looking for a more immediate solution, rather than something that would require a long process of introspection, etc. It's a lot easier to feel confident about the things you can control - knowledge about your skills/experience, the firm, and how you can contribute value to the employer. This won't change your personality or social skills, but there is a lot less room to answer questions awkwardly / be awkward when most of what you're doing in an interview is talking about a message you're focused on delivering. I think this will also help everything else fall into place. If you feel inwardly confident about your preparation for the interview, it can translate outwardly as you being confident in yourself. (I don't mean you should memorize or rehearse answers. Just know very well going in what you like about the firm and find something to be excited about. Feeling "prepared" can mean different things to different people. It may mean you do an inordinate amount of research on the firm, or read your own resume 1000x to prepare for answers. The important thing is that you feel personally like you have a strong grasp on what you'd like to convey to the interviewer.)

I've also noticed that spending time between interviews doing last-minute interview prep is more detrimental than helpful. For me, spending that time before interviews just talking and laughing with friends helped me feel more relaxed and at ease during the interview itself. So do your interview prep beforehand and don't save it for just before an interview lol. Write a small summary on a notecard to jog your memory just before you go in.

Also, write down on every notecard that the first thing you should think about when you walk into an interview is the way you're seated. I don't know how interviewers view sitting position or whatever. But just for me, I noticed that consciously changing the way I sit to a more comfortable position helped me feel... more comfortable - not just physically, but mentally as well. It's kind of like how smiling makes people feel happier - the brain pays attention to what your body is doing! Worked for me at least ;)

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby El Pollito » Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:This is probably a trite response, but as a socially awkward person myself, I have found that the best way to get around awkwardness is to go in to an interview feeling totally prepared.

came to post this

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby nick417 » Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:42 pm

Yeezus Wept wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
checkers wrote:
Yeezus Wept wrote:I'm going to tell you what i tell everyone. I'm assuming you're a dude. Learn about NFL football and put it on your interest section. Pick a team that makes sense for you and learn the basics of it. You now have a solid chance at getting a few "sports" interviews. These are incredibly easy and have saved my ass many times. If you are interviewing with someone who likes football, and like 85% of American men do, being able to bullshit about the Giant's revamped defense or exactly how much of a shit show Chip Kelly's tenure in San Francisco is going to be is an incredibly easy way to have a conversational, relaxed aspect of your interview. If you then nail you questions and know your resume front to back, you are in good shape.

Also, interest in sports is an indicator to many folks that you are "normal". I assume from the fact that you are asking this question on TLS that you are not only socially awkward, you are probably unattractive and somewhere on the spectrum. Being a football fan is a signal that despite outward appearances, you are actually someone your interviewing may enjoy getting a beer with.

I am constantly bemused by the legions of awkward law students I know that are aware of their social shortcomings and do nothing about it. There is no magic formula to be charismatic, you aren't going to wake up one day and be charming/attractive. But developing an interest in something that a large number of people you are interviewing with are interested in is a concrete, affirmative way to try and mitigate your weakness. So yeah, if you just went through OCI this is probably too late for you, but for all the 0L lurkers here you might want to heed my advice.

The above is terrible advice. You cannot pickup football well enough to discuss "the Giant's [sic] revamped defense" in time for upcoming interviews. That takes years, in which time you could instead find a hobby that you actually enjoy and can talk about. A good conversation doesn't require both participants to be well-versed in the subject. If you have something that you are genuinely interested in and can convey that so that your interviewer is likewise engaged, you just checked at least three boxes for them: [x] can carry on a conversation, [x] has a life outside of school, [x] could see myself working with this person. Trying to cultivate an interest that isn't genuinely felt is a recipe for disaster, especially when it concerns an interest that "85% of American men" have. You would quickly be found out as a fraud, which is much worse than simply being a little awkward. Just try to better yourself by being interested in something, and the side effect will be that you'll be a better interviewer.

Agreed. That advice is not good. I go to a school in the South and just went through OCI and was pretty successful in getting CBs. I'm not the most outgoing person and have never followed football, but rather a less popular sport here in the states. Football was rarely a topic of conversation in my interviews and if it came up, I was honest about what I know about it (basically nothing). Be genuine.


Whatever. You can sit there in your drum circle and tell OP to be a better interviewer through the power of magical thinking, but that isn't going to help him at all. I find it hard to believe that a T14 law student can't pick up a football preview and learn enough about the Jets to fake it for five minutes, and for reasons above if OP was able to do this it would be very beneficial for him.

Telling someone to be "genuine" and their true self when their true self is a weirdo is ridiculous, especially when they need a job to pay off the 200k Sword of Damocles hanging over their head.


Your advice fails the moment you interview with a non-sports fan. Moreover, I did a decent amount of CBs and interviewed with a variety of attorneys, football or professional sports rarely ever came up (Note: one of my interests was the local sports team). The only time sports was discussed was in regard to my undergrad university which is a big sports school.

The only advice to give you this close to CB season is to learn as much as you can about the firm you are interviewing at. Read their website for interesting news about the firm and the cases they are working on. And then prepare 2 or 3 sold stock questions to ask about the firm's summer program. 20-30 mins goes by fast. If you have 2 to 3 stock questions that are good, you should be able to fill the time.

If you made it CBs, all you want to seem is normal. Being a stellar interviewer takes practice which you don't have time to perfect at this point. If you appear genuine and interested in the firm you are interviewing at, then you are on the right path. But don't come across phony by pretending to be interested in something you are not.

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Bluem_11 » Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:46 pm

Lol @ the sports comment, not to mention it was sexist.

(FWIW I'm a former undergrad athlete for a decent program, was on my resume, and it only came up in like 25% of the interviews).

To the actual OP: I've worked in offices with some very socially awkward people. There is no way they magically became Anne Hathaway during their interviews. Be honest, and sell your strengths. It may even be helpful to say 'Look I'm not the best public speaker and I'm a little nervous, but I work my ass off like nobody else and my work product is the shit' or something along those lines.

In my firm life we sometimes categorize people into schmoozers or grinders. Not everyone is built to be a recruiter, or wine and dine clients, or go to conferences. Some lawyers are introverted research & writing office grinders. Make yourself seem like a great fit for the latter!

I'm not saying it's the perfect strategy, but it would be persuasive to me as an interviewer.

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Frayed Knot » Sat Aug 13, 2016 2:58 pm

Bluem_11 wrote: Be honest, and sell your strengths. It may even be helpful to say 'Look I'm not the best public speaker and I'm a little nervous, but I work my ass off like nobody else and my work product is the shit' or something along those lines.

In my firm life we sometimes categorize people into schmoozers or grinders. Not everyone is built to be a recruiter, or wine and dine clients, or go to conferences. Some lawyers are introverted research & writing office grinders. Make yourself seem like a great fit for the latter!

I'm not saying it's the perfect strategy, but it would be persuasive to me as an interviewer.


I would advise against this strategy. I agree that it might work, with the right interviewer. However, a lot of interviewers have a norm against admitting weaknesses that openly. Plus, if you're struggling to appear confident, spending time discussing weaknesses isn't likely to help. Better, in my view, to keep focused on your strengths without the "I may not be the best at X, but" disclaimer.

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 13, 2016 3:00 pm

As a general tip.

The less you talk during the interview, the better your chances. Let the interviewer do most of the talking.

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 13, 2016 3:09 pm

Also this doesn't help you right now, but in case any 0Ls are trolling this like I did as a 0L, find something unique and interesting (probably non-law related) that you can put on your resume. A job would be best, but unique interests could work too. I can't tell you how many interviews I walked into where the interviewer said "yours is the most interesting resume that I've seen all day." At that point it becomes easy because you can spend 3/4 of the interview shooting the breeze about something that you know really well, and the interviewer is genuinely interested in

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 13, 2016 4:14 pm

I hate interviewing and get super nervous/awkward too. What I have found helpful is this: writing down some of the most common interview questions and practicing out loud (even by myself) what I would answer. I even printed a few bullet points under the questions to look over several times. At this stage, in my opinion, it is important to not worry about what you will say word for word. Instead, have a few bullet points in your head about what you want to include in an answer. For example, if you hear "Tell me about yourself" in your mind have a few trigger words like "came from X background," "studied X because...," or "I came to law school because..." and try to be as conversational as possible. Keep in mind that interviewers usually want you to do well, and even if some of them don't try to believe that they do. If you also have a few behavioral situations in your head that you can explain you should feel pretty prepared. In my experience, it seems that I can shape the same few scenarios I have ready to talk about into whatever the interviewer asks me about whether it's my team working skills, how I overcome a challenge, etc.

Another awkward part of interviews, for me, is when you are asked "What questions do you have for me?" because it can feel difficult to make yourself sound genuine and not robotic. For this portion, again, I have key words stored in my head on questions I can ask. For example, if I want to ask what the interviewer finds most challenging about his or her job, and how he or she would describe the culture I would have "challenging" and "culture" ready in my head for when I am supposed to ask questions. It helps to try and remember a few words rather than lengthy questions/answers. If you can, try asking a follow-up question to an answer the interviewer has to make yourself seem like you're genuinely interested/listening. A good transition when you're asked this is "I am wondering about..." or something along those lines.

My last part of advice seems a little odd but it has worked for me. I try to pick the latest interview slot I can if what I'm doing is an OCI because somehow it's less intimidating to interview with a person after you know he or she has seen 15 people before you. Before an interview I try to step into my "confident and qualified" persona. Sounds weird, but it works for me. Even if you don't always feel 100% confident, do your best to act like you do. The interviewer doesn't know whether or not you're actually confident. Again, I realize it's easier said than done but give it a real try. Go into the building ready and confident. Keep telling yourself over and over that you deserve the job just as much as anybody else. Also, try walking around a bit right before your interview to burn off some nervous energy. Drink some water before too if you're likely to have a dry mouth. Before interviews, I always walk around a bit and drink water a minute or so before I go in so I'm feeling cool and collected.

Good luck!

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 13, 2016 5:19 pm

Anonymous User wrote:As a general tip.

The less you talk during the interview, the better your chances. Let the interviewer do most of the talking.


Yeah, this. Learning how to turn a question into a question that gets the interviewer talking more than you is an art unto itself, but it's a very good way to both give the interviewer at least a slight warm and fuzzy feeling as they have some fun talking about their job, while reducing the amount of time you have to spend talking about yourself/trying to sound interesting. If you do it literally after every question the interviewer is going to immediately see what you're doing and will probably ding you, but if you can practice to a point where you can make someone feel like they're having a conversation, rather than being conned into interviewing themselves, it helps a lot.

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 13, 2016 6:19 pm

I have the same problem in reverse (I am socially awkward, but in the sense that I'm overly outgoing/confident and don't have a right to be), but I have some tips that should be applicable anyway. (FWIW, I give great twenty minute interviews, but things start to go horribly wrong around the 22 minute mark. So this advice is specifically tailored to screeners.)

The first rule of a good interview is to recognize that people like themselves and they like people like themselves.

So, first, become a mirror. The hokey version of this is "body language mirroring," but it does help (if only for your own psychological comfort). If the interviewer is sitting formally with your papers spread out before them, sit neatly with your hands folded in front of you or placed on your lap, and keep talking with your hands to a minimum. If they're lounging back in their chair and tipping it onto the back legs, then loosen up, maybe cross a knee, and use your hands more. Even if it doesn't work on them, it will give you more confidence that you're acting like a humanoid lifeform. (I saw that you are also a woman, so protip, keep your hands out of your hair.)

The less hokey version is to mirror their conversation, too. If they keep trying to talk about interests or tell stories, then add tangential funny/endearing stories to your canned answers, and don't try to steer the interests into "but back to my resume" territory. On the other hand, if they're going through your resume point-by-point, don't try to tie in your interests throughout. They set the tone, you mirror it. (This goes for diction, too-- if they are swearing, making inside jokes to the other interviewer, and just generally being colloquial, keep the legalese and "interview words" to a minimum.)

I started mirroring questions stems about halfway through OCI, and it can be really helpful. Specifically, it's helpful if you sometimes ramble endlessly or if there's an awkward pause between when you finish an answer and when the interviewer moves on to the next. It gives you time to plot an answer and indicates when you've concluded an answer. For example, if the interviewer asks "What was the most challenging thing you experienced during 1L?", you can either buy time by saying "Hmm, the most challenging thing I experienced during 1L..." and pausing before answering, or you can say "The most challenging thing was [probably/definitely] [challenging thing]." Then, after you're done describing it, you can signal that by saying something like "So learning to [address/get past/master] [challenging thing] was the biggest challenge I faced during 1L."

I feel like I'm writing an instruction manual for aliens, lol.

The second thing is to make yourself some life preservers. These are just short stories, jokes, sentences, whatever, that you can toss in whenever you need filler or need to collect yourself. For example, I used "which, incidentally, is one of the reasons I'm really glad I picked [my school]." It fit well largely because of my school's culture, but it could be tossed in anywhere. "The most challenging thing was un-learning academic writing and replacing it with legal writing. And actually, even though I struggled a lot with it, it also made me really glad I chose [my school], because there was so much willingness to help on the part of both students and faculty. My first memo came back with the criticism that I write too much as though I'm writing a narrative, and that it got in the way of clarity, so [answer continues]."

Other life preservers are canned jokes about your interests, or short funny stories about your work experience, or whatever. SHORT, as in two sentences or less, but if you run them by friends and career counselors and they say they're not weird, then you have a few sentences you can rely on, which should cut the fear a bit. Practice will show you where they can be inserted and removed from your narrative. You can make a life preserver for when you first sit down ("Gosh, I'm sorry you're stuck in one of the windowless rooms!" for a joke, or just a formal speech for handing over the documents: "So, here's another stack of paper for your file. The top page is my resume [with updated GPA/journal/etc.] and the second is an unofficial transcript. [If no immediate response] Let me know if you would like a reference sheet or writing sample, as well."). It sounds silly to script it out, but having that go-to script is deeply comforting during the most awkward part of the interview (the shuffle-and-settle part).

It can be totally random and manufactured, if you want-- fake a cough and say excuse me, glance worriedly towards the door and say "I'm sorry, I thought I heard a knock and panicked for a second!", whatever. These aren't designed to be used in every interview, they're just things you know you can do at any time so you don't have the creeping sense of dread that you'll completely freeze up and start floundering.

The third (by no means last, so let me know if these help or if you have specific things you want help with) thing is to really just... own who you are. You don't really have to accept it, but you do have to own it, you know?

I was an LSAT instructor with Blueprint, and this was probably the best thing that came out of it, for me. In training, they basically selected the thing that's funniest/coolest/oddest/neatest about you and told you/made you dial it up to 11. For me, that's that I am far too loud, far too hyper, talk far too quickly, and am just, in general, very tiring. That's also the thing I hate most about myself, you know? I don't think that's unusual. But that's the thing that makes me most unique, so I had to become even more irreverent, even more foul-mouthed, even more exuberant. And it made me really own it. (Getting too deep here, but I think that's because if you're acting MORE that way than you actually are, then you have the ability to exert control over it, and the shame-inducing part of being that way is NOT being able to control it. So if you go into your interview being 110% weird and it works for those people, great. And if it doesn't, then you can just dial it back to 100% weird, and they'll see that as you being *more normal* instead of *less weird*. It shifts the Overton window.)

I'm also reminded of some internet person once responding to a comment on her body by saying, half-jokingly, "excuse me, I *live* here." Because, right? You're awkward 100% of the time, 24/7. This is who you are. You can't, and shouldn't, expect to just shed that like a snake's skin for interviews. Especially since you'll be working with these people for a long time, and they're bound to find out eventually. I'm 100% positive that every. single. interview. ended with the interviewer thinking, or the interviewers saying to each other, "she's a bit odd." It's just that the interviews where I got callbacks, they thought/said, "She's a bit odd-- I like her." So you shouldn't see it as trying *not* to be awkward, but as being awkward in a way that isn't discomfiting to interviewers. The goal is to be the same amount of odd, but to channel it in ways that make you seem endearing instead of off-putting.

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Re: Interviewing tips for socially awkward

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Aug 13, 2016 6:26 pm

Frayed Knot wrote:
Bluem_11 wrote: Be honest, and sell your strengths. It may even be helpful to say 'Look I'm not the best public speaker and I'm a little nervous, but I work my ass off like nobody else and my work product is the shit' or something along those lines.

In my firm life we sometimes categorize people into schmoozers or grinders. Not everyone is built to be a recruiter, or wine and dine clients, or go to conferences. Some lawyers are introverted research & writing office grinders. Make yourself seem like a great fit for the latter!

I'm not saying it's the perfect strategy, but it would be persuasive to me as an interviewer.


I would advise against this strategy. I agree that it might work, with the right interviewer. However, a lot of interviewers have a norm against admitting weaknesses that openly. Plus, if you're struggling to appear confident, spending time discussing weaknesses isn't likely to help. Better, in my view, to keep focused on your strengths without the "I may not be the best at X, but" disclaimer.

I agree with this, generally. I do think that if you get flustered/tongue-twisted over something, it can be worth saying something like, "I'm sorry, I'm a little nervous, let me try that again." Acknowledging awkwardness can make everyone feel better about it. But don't couch it as a kind of general weakness.



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