With OCI, or On-Campus Interviews, coming up soon, law firms are preparing for their trips to schools to fill their summer associate positions.
If all goes well, this initial interview will snag you a callback and eventually an offer at one of your top choices. While going through the interview process, here are a few things to avoid and to keep in mind.
“I’m fine waiting”
Don’t: Get to your interview too early and sit in the waiting room
Recruiters are busy, especially during interview season. So on the day of your interview, don’t get to the interview an hour early, pull out a book, and insist that you’re fine waiting for your turn. Not only is this awkward for everyone in the room, but it’s also easily preventable.
Do: Budget in time for transportation mishaps
While being too early is not a good thing, arriving right on time—or late—is just as bad, if not worse. Instead, make sure to leave early enough to have some wiggle room in case you have trouble finding parking, you get lost, or public transportation breaks down. If you arrive any more than 10 minutes early, try to find a place nearby to sit and wait.
“I’d love to go to your office in Prague”
Don’t: Go into the interview without doing your research
Every year there are a few students who clearly haven’t done much research about the firms they’re meeting with. There are countless stories of aspiring summer associates who say that they’d love to work in a location where the firm doesn’t exist, want to practice a field of law that the firm doesn’t practice, or even get the pronunciation of the firm’s name wrong. Nothing is more embarrassing than pronouncing the firm’s name incorrectly and having to be corrected by the interviewer. And expressing your interest in their office in Prague or practicing Sports and Entertainment law, when the firm has neither to offer you, will automatically relegate you to the “no” pile.
Do: Research who you’re meeting with
Instead of going into the interview blind, make sure to do some digging into the firm and the person or people you’ll be meeting, if you’re able to get that information. Be sure you know the basics, like what areas of law the firm practices, and where their offices are (and are not!). If you mention in your interview that you’re open to a few of their other office locations, and not necessarily only where you’re currently interviewing, or some specific aspects of the work that they do with Intellectual Property law, it shows that you’re not only professional and prepared, but also that you understand and have a real interest in what they do.
Don’t: Answer your phone in too casual a manner
This may seem like an odd suggestion, but think about the way you might sometimes answer your phone when you think it’s one of your friends calling. Don’t be the person who answers the phone call for a second interview with a casual “what’s up?” or anything that can be considered rude.
Do: Let voicemail pick it up
These days, many of us tend to ignore unknown numbers or answer with suspicion in our voices. If you don’t recognize the phone number calling you, let it go to voicemail. Not answering the phone has no negative consequences. Just make sure your voicemail message sounds professional.
“I’ll have another, thanks.”
Don’t: Get too comfortable
During the callback process, many law firms will hold lunches or receptions where interviewees can mingle with associates. Although these meetings have a more “laid-back vibe, don’t drink more than you would at any business lunch meeting, and speak as you would during an interview. Prospective summer associates who get tipsy or act unprofessionally ruin their chances of getting an offer. While the atmosphere or the associates you’re meeting with may seem easy-going, remember that this isn’t just any lunch, and it shouldn’t be treated as such—consider it a long interview.
Do: Get to know the associates in a less stressful environment
You can still have a good time while remaining polished. Since the lunch or reception is much more casual than your OCI interview, it can give you a better chance to hear about the firm and try to connect with its employees. This less intense setting can help you get a better feel for the firm’s culture and help the firm see how you’ll fit.
“I just said that date doesn’t work for me.”
Don’t: Be rude to whomever is scheduling your callback
Although the callback process can be stressful, never let your nerves get the best of you. You could be the perfect candidate—top-tier law school, bilingual, and top of your class—but if you’re rude to anyone during this process, you will not get an offer.
Do: Be polite and mind your manners
Be respectful and nice to everyone—partners, associates, receptionists, security guards. You never know who has a say in whether you get an offer or who will have your interviewer’s ear about the smallest interaction. No matter how irritated you may be, the people scheduling and organizing the entire process deserve respect and courtesy at all times.