How Law Students Can Ace the Dreaded On-Campus Interview Process

This process is critical to your future as a lawyer

In August, we can push some worries off until after Labor Day—unless that is, you’re a second-year law student.

In August, many law students take part in on-campus interviews, a critical step toward post-graduation employment. In fact, these interviews can significantly impact the trajectory of a student’s career.

(Image: iStock/AndreyPopov)

 

 

Why On-Campus Interviews Are So Important for Law Students

 

Law school typically takes three years to complete. However, for many students, the search for a post-graduation job begins long before their third year.

In August, many employers come to campus to interview students for summer apprenticeships which often culminate into full-time, post-graduation, permanent employment.

The on-campus interview process can be stressful. It’s not uncommon for students to interview with dozens of employers in the span of as little as two weeks. Also, the prized “callback interviews,” which are conducted off-campus in an employer’s office, do not always come quickly. Some firms keep students twisting in the wind for a while. Then, of course, there’s rejection.

Yet, there’s no need to despair. As long as a student prepares thoroughly and strategically, he or she is likely to secure a summer job. Here are some tips for acing on-campus interviews:

Be thoughtful and strategic in selecting the firms you interview with

 

Law students are given a list of the employers coming to campus. Students select employers with whom they want to interview. At minimum, research the firm’s office locations, office sizes, reputation, practice areas, etc.

For instance, if you know that you want to be in New York and practice litigation, interviewing with multiple firms with tiny New York offices that mostly do transactional work is probably not advisable. Or, if you struggled academically in your first year, you probably should not fill your plate with firms that heavily emphasize grades when hiring.

 

Figure out what’s unique about each employer you’ve selected

 

Inevitably, one of your interviewers will ask, “So, why are you interested in [their law firm’s name]?” Don’t simply rely on a generic response such as “the firm’s culture,” unless you can point to specific, concrete examples that distinguish that firm’s culture. A compelling answer as to why Firm X is a good fit for you will undoubtedly help you stand out in a positive way.

Research the interviewer’s background to find commonality with your own

 

Perhaps from the person’s LinkedIn page you can find that although you don’t volunteer for any of the same organizations, you both enjoy volunteering.  That can be a good nugget to weave into your personal narrative and subtly show that you did your research on your interviewer. Or, perhaps the interviewer once wrote an article about something of interest to you that you can refer to during the interview. I have always found that being able to identify things in common—however minute—can help build a rapport.