Ways to set yourself apart during a law firm interview

Harrison Barnes

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Attending a Law Firm Interview? Here’s How to Leave a Lasting Positive Impression

Landing a law firm interview is a feat unto itself with the legal industry being such a competitive market. So, when you get the interview as a lawyer, paralegal, or legal support staff, how can you leave a lasting positive impression for the rest of the legal hiring process? In this article, you’ll learn 4 ways to position your legal skills in a way that shows the law firm that you are the natural choice for their legal job opening.

Research the Law Firm Before Your Interview

During the legal hiring process, the law firm is looking to identify legal candidates who are a good fit. They want lawyers, legal assistants, and support staff who want to work for them. One of the best and simplest ways that you can leave a lasting positive impression during your law firm interview is to research the firm beforehand. You can easily do this by harnessing the power of the Internet.

You can:

Visit the law firm’s website.

Read their “About” page, their “Mission” page (if they have one), the profile page of key lawyers for larger law firms (such as hiring partners and the managing partner for the practice area for which you’re interviewing), and some of their recent blog posts or recent news pieces posted on their website.

Look for a law firm profile on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn allows businesses to create profiles. A LinkedIn profile can be a great way to learn about recent happenings at the law firm and learning about new job openings for lawyers, paralegals, legal support staff. While you’re on LinkedIn, take the information you learned from their website about the hiring manager and managing partner and put it too good use. Look them up by name. You need not send them an invitation to connect. It’s just another opportunity to learn a little more about them as professionals. If they regularly use LinkedIn or use LinkedIn Pro, they’ll know that you viewed their profile. This will show them before the interview that you’re doing your research to learn more about the firm.

Look for the law firm on Twitter, Facebook, and Google My Business.

We say this with a word of caution. You may find some unfavorable reviews about the law firm. Not all negative reviews are true. There are scams involving an attempted blackmail of businesses: if the business contacted refuses the demands of the scammer, the scammer leaves negative reviews that still fall within the review policy for whatever platform they leave the review on. There’s very little the business can do about it aside from responding and flagging the review.

If you see negative reviews that seem odd or out of place, take them with a grain of salt. Remember that you’re on a fact-finding mission. You aren’t interested in accepting legal work from a law firm that has a history of angering their clients or a history of ethical problems with the bar. You’re also not interested in taking false negative claims as fact. Put your legal skills to good use and weigh what you find.

Be Ready for the Screening Interview & Avoid Sensitive Topics

Some law firms invite legal candidates to take part in a screening interview before they schedule a candidate to attend an actual interview for the legal position. A screening interview is crucial. It determines whether the law firm will select you to continue in the legal hiring process. You must make a positive impression. The best way to do this is to be enthusiastic, be easy to get along with, leave the impression that you know what you’re doing and have a great work ethic, and to avoid sensitive topics.

Engage in the screening interview in an area that is quiet and private.

Ensure that your spouse, your children, your pets, or your colleagues will not interrupt you. If you must schedule it during your lunch hour and sit in your car, do it. This will show the law firm you’re prepared.

Do not talk about your personal life. This is a screening interview for a legal position. A screening interview may be relatively short. So, unless they specifically ask you about your hobbies, don’t volunteer that information. And even if you’re asked, keep it short.

Do not work on other projects during the screening interview.

Turn your full attention to speaking with the interviewer. Your goal is to get to the next step in the legal hiring process. Be mindful of what’s being said and engage with the person to whom you are speaking. Don’t work on other projects. Don’t think about what your answer will be to the next question. Use active listening and be present.

Do not talk about salary.

Salary is a sensitive topic that you should not discuss during a screening interview. Most likely they will not mention it and you should not bring it up. You will discuss salary at the end of the legal hiring process if you are being considered for the job offer.

Do not put the interviewer on hold.

If you do, then you will not get the law firm job. This shows the interviewer that the law firm position is not as important as whatever you’re doing. If you think you’ll have an important situation to take care of, you need to schedule the screening call for another day and time.

Be on time.

One of the best ways to leave a lasting positive impression is a good old-fashioned common courtesy: be on time. Answer your phone at the time the interviewer calls you. This is especially important if the law firm asks you to call them instead of them calling you. You may find that many law firms do this. It’s because they want to see if you know how to be on time.

Never talk over the other person.

Again, use common courtesy. Let them finish their question or comment. Good manners show that you’re a team player and leave a positive impression that can help you get scheduled for a law firm interview.

Be Enthusiastic for Your Law Firm Interview (But Don’t Be Over the Top)

When your big day arrives, be enthusiastic. Greet the receptionist and be friendly. Don’t be insincere and don’t be over the top. Once your law firm interview is over, someone will ask the receptionist if you were friendly and said hello. If you are rude to or ignore the receptionist, they probably won’t choose you as the newest member of the legal team. The law firm gatekeeper is more important than many people realize.

When you meet the hiring partner or the group of interviewers, again, be enthusipuastic but do not be over the top. A hearty handshake is fine, but no one needs or wants a death grip. Be positive and be mindful of your body language. Sit up as straight as you can, but without appearing rigid or nervous. Do your best not to fidget, but make sure you talk with your hands and make eye contact with everyone as you answer so you include each person who is part of the interview in the conversation.

Portray Your Strength as Solutions to the Law Firm’s Needs Before you attend your interview, review the job description, your resume, and your legal skills. Consider how your legal skills precisely solve the law firm’s needs. Consider the probable legal interview questions they might ask you and the answers you could provide that highlight your legal skills and how you are the ideal candidate for the position. You can highlight your legal experience in the relevant practice areas, specific legal skills, or even the amount of legal experience you have.

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