Law Student Interview Guide
Before the on-campus interview
Think about your career path. Work with Career Services to identify firms that match your goals. Things to consider: type of law, firm size, location and boutique vs. full-service firm.
Do your research. Once you receive your schedule, get to know each of the firms with which you are interviewing. A cheat sheet might be helpful for pre-interview prep and as a quick reference between meetings.
Know why you are interested in the firm. In doing your research, identify what draws you most to the firm and be prepared to talk about your interests with the on-campus interviewer.
Know your interviewer. You will find yourself much more relaxed if you know a little bit about the person across the table.
Know your resume. Interviewers will review your resume beforehand and everything listed is fair game—including the thesis you wrote 5 years ago. Your resume should be pristine. Proofread for formatting errors and typos, skip the fancy font, and aim to fit everything onto one page.
Be proactive. Most firms welcome and encourage write-in applications if they are not scheduled to visit your school.
Don’t be afraid to knock on the interview room door at your scheduled interview time. Interviewers appreciate knowing it’s time to transition.
The on-campus interview
Stay calm. Do not worry if your interview runs long or is cut short. There are many reasons schedules get off track, most of which have nothing to do with you.
Ask candid questions about what is important to you. You should use the on-campus interview to arm yourself with information about the firms you are considering.
Show enthusiasm. Firms are interested in people who demonstrate initiative and a positive attitude. Actively participate in the interview. It should be a conversation, not an interrogation.
Sign up with career services for the next mock interview program. You may be matched up with a Cooley attorney for a practice run.
After the on-campus interview
Make notes. After each on-campus interview, make notes to help you distinguish the firms. This will be helpful as you receive callback invitations.
Get answers. If members of the recruiting staff are on-campus, take time to chat with them. They will be able to answer questions about the firm, interview process, timing, etc.
Scheduling callback interviews
Acknowledge or decline callback invitations immediately. If you receive a callback you are interested in pursuing, respond to the invitation right away. If you have determined from the on-campus interview that you are no longer interested in pursuing the firm, politely decline the callback invitation.
Be as flexible with your time as possible. Give firms a couple of date options for your callback interviews.
Know your host firm. When you are interviewing with several firms in one geographic location it is typically the case that firms will share the cost of your travel-related expenses. You will hear the term "host firm," which is the firm that is initially incurring the expenses for your travel. Work with your host firm when making travel arrangements and seeking reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs, and be sure to request a copy of the host firm's travel policy if it is not provided to you in advance of your trip.
Be considerate. Try to give as much advanced notice as possible if you are running late or plan to cancel a callback interview.
NALP timing guidelines
Remember to reaffirm your interest in the offers you receive within 14 days of the date of the offer letter, or employers could retract the offer.
The callback interview
Know the firm and the office in which you are interviewing. Identify what draws you most to the firm and be prepared to talk about your interests with your interviewers. Request a copy of your schedule the day before the interview and research your interviewers by looking them up on the website or on LinkedIn. Other helpful online resources include nalpdirectory.com, vault.com, chambers-associate.com
Read up on different interviewing techniques. Firms use many styles, but behavioral interviewing is gaining popularity.
Arrive early (but not too early). Often firms will have materials for you to look over as you prepare for the interview. Arriving 15 minutes early is ideal.
Prepare your questions in advance and be ready to discuss the following:
- Personal background: Your previous employment history, notable accomplishments and why you decided to attend law school.
- Educational background: The courses you have enjoyed most and least and why, how those courses led to your interest in the firm, your participation in journals or organizations, and how your education has prepared you to work in a law firm environment.
- Career objectives: Factors which are of most importance to you as you evaluate firms and why you have chosen private practice or a specific type of law.
Weighing your options
Be transparent. Let the recruiting staff know which factors are playing into your offer decision so they can offer assistance as you gather the information you need to help make your decision. If you did not have a chance to meet with someone you wanted to meet with—for example a junior attorney or someone in a particular practice group—now is the time to ask!
Connect with former summer associates and alums. Get to know students who recently summered at the firm. The recruiting staff can help initiate that contact if you ask. Another great resource when considering multiple offers are law school alumni.
Write it down. Determine what is important to you and make a list noting how each firm fairs in each area. Things to consider may include: practice area offerings, industry expertise, training, pro bono, diversity, firm culture, location, summer program experience, etc.
Keep the lines of communication open. Do not let your offer expire without informing the firm of your decision.