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What You Missed Last Week – Interviewing Skills Workshop and Dress to Impress

March 3, 2014

We had two fantastic programs last week focused on interviewing skills and how to dress professionally; this post will focus on the interviewing program. If you were in attendance this will be something of a summary, but I’ll also include my own thoughts. So, keep reading!

The interview program consisted of an actual mock interview, conducted by special guest attorneys Mary Dietz (Cox Smith), Karen Burgess (Richardson + Burgess) and Josh White (Haley & Olson). They interviewed two brave students, Brian Aslin and Aynsley Young.

Ms. Dietz and Ms. Burgess interviewed Brian from more of a big firm perspective, and Mr. White interviewed Aynsley from more of a small/mid-size/local firm perspective.

Here are my thoughts from the interview and the discussion afterward:

  1. Each interviewer mentioned eye contact and posture, something that is very important and helps create a good first impression (or can hurt you by creating a bad impression).
  2. It is important to think deeper about the type of law you think you might like to practice, particularly if you’re interested in litigation. Ms. Dietz drilled down on Brian quite a bit to get him to talk about what type of litigation in which he was interested. He discussed oil & gas and a few others. This is an issue that was raised from several employers during last fall’s OCI, and it’s something you should think about before you interview. I would add for many mid/large firms, a litigation associate is not going to be taking depositions or going into the courtroom any time soon, so a candidate wanting to be in the courtroom should keep that in mind when answering these questions. The employer needs to know you won’t become discouraged or unhappy if you’re not in the courtroom in the first year, two or three.
  3. Have everything with you in the interview. Ms. Burgess asked Brian for a writing sample during the mock interview. Even if the employer didn’t ask for it in the posting, bring with you a resume, transcript and writing sample. You may not need any of them, but how prepared will you look if they ask you for one of those and you’re able to hand it right over.
  4. Keep geography in mind. Mr. White asked several subtle and not-so-subtle questions trying to get at whether Aynsley would be a good fit in Waco, and would she be happy there. Employers generally don’t want to hear you’re “open” when it comes to geography. You need to make an affirmative case as to why you’re interested in the city the employer is located. If a firm is interviewing for multiple locations, you can say you would like to be considered for more than one location, but still need to give reasons why you’d be interested in each location.
  5. Be sure to have intelligent questions to ask the employer. Each employer in the mock interview asked whether the candidate had any questions for them, and each said afterwards that is a critical component of the interview. Mr. White told a story of a candidate who when asked if he had any questions said no, and that was the end of the interview. Employers want to see you have an interest in them, have done some basic research on them, and are curious about what it’s like to work with them.
  6. Give a lot of thought to the “weakness” question. There was some discussion after the mock interview about how best to answer this, and there wasn’t a consensus even among the panel. My advice falls most in line with what Ms. Burgess called “weakness-lite.” It needs to be a true weakness, but not something that is cause for great concern. You also need to follow it up with what you have done or are doing to address the weakness, and provide examples of how that has helped.

If you were at the event, what did you take away from it? What questions do you have?

Remember that I offer mock interviews every Monday afternoon (or any other day/time as necessary) where we can work out these and other issues. You can make an appointment through Symplicity.

To those who were there we appreciate your attendance, and for those who weren’t I hope this gives you some insight into what you missed. We look forward to seeing you at our next program on March 25, the first program in our Summer Survival Series: Business Etiquette Dinner.

Connect with Daniel and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week's job is: 2014 Summer Judicial Internship Program with the Thirteenth District Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi (1L, 2L, 3L) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

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