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Career Services


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Contact Us

Law Office of Professional Development

Office Address:

Law Center
1825 W. Rocket Dr., Ste. 1030
Mailing Address:
2801 W. Bancroft, MS 507
Toledo, OH 43606
419.530.2851

OPD@utoledo.edu

Interviewing

PREPARING FOR INTERVIEWS

You must adequately prepare for every interview.  Interviewers can tell when you have not taken the time to prepare.  Adequate preparation may also help to alleviate some of the initial nervousness that some people feel when interviewing.  The interview is your first opportunity to show how well you respond under pressure. 

  • Remember to take extra copies of your resume, writing sample, transcript, and list of references to every interview
  • Participate in a mock interview with the Office of Professional Development.  To schedule a mock interview, please contact a counselor directly, or send a request to opd@utoledo.edu.
  • Know your resume!  Often a prospective employer may ask a question about an item on your resume, such as an organization with which you were associated in college or a previous work experience.  Be prepared to discuss how you were involved and other details.
  • Know your writing sample!  Some employers will ask you about it and expect you to know your key arguments or other facts about cases cited.
  • Review common interview questions and think about your responses. 
  • Research the prospective employer and prepare questions you will ask during the interview.  Do not ask questions about the employer that you can easily find on their website.  Think of intelligent follow up questions to ask the employer to show that you have done your homework. 

First Impressions and Professional Attire

Part of the overall first impression will be your approach to employers.  A steady handshake, good eye contact and an enthusiastic greeting will get the interview off to a good start. 

Like it or not, how you look influences people when they first meet you.  If you tend to be sloppy, the interviewer may think you don't care much about yourself or them.  The small details (such as polished shoes) will imply you pay careful attention to the details, an important trait for attorneys. 

Does attire really make a difference?  Yes.  Your appearance should be both conservative and professional.  Click herefor a handout with details about professional dress for men and women.

INTERVIEW “DOs” AND “DON’Ts”

DON’T

  • Be late – be there 10-15 minutes early
  • Chew gum during or smoke before an interview
  • Fidget – No tapping, clicking your pen, scratching, adjusting clothes, etc.
  • Call people by their first name (unless asked to do so)
  • Swear / Use slang
  • Try to be funny/ Be overly casual
  • Give one to two word answers, or overly long and unfocused answers
  • Lie or inflate your qualifications
  • Get angry/irritated or talk negatively about anyone (including former employers)
  • Talk about salary (unless the employer brings it up)

DO

  • Research the employer and interviewers – be familiar with the information on their website, learn about key practice areas, and be aware of major clients or cases
  • Turn off/silence any electronic devices you have with you before the interview
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before
  • Maintain good eye contact with your interviewer
  • Sit up straight
  • Wear clothing that conceals any tattoos/piercings that you may have
  • Know how to correctly pronounce the interviewer and firm’s name
  • Be pleasant, but professional
  • Put a positive spin on your responses – no one likes a killjoy!
  • Ask for business cards from the people you meet
  • Ask when you’ll hear back from the firm/organization
  • Be aware of current events – You may be asked a question involving them

QUESTIONS FREQUENTLY ASKED BY LEGAL EMPLOYERS

Every interview and interviewer will be different.  You need to be prepared to adapt to the situation as needed.  Some interviewers are very conversational and let the interview flow naturally, while others may be very “by the book” and ask the same questions of each candidate.

Click here for a list of sample interview questions. 

Three of the Most Common Questions:

1)     A very common question will be, "Tell me about yourself."  If you are ready for this question, you have an excellent opportunity to sell your strongest attributes and skills.  You might begin with your background such as where you are from and what undergraduate institution you attended.  Some people move on to work experience or explanation of why they chose a legal career.  Interviewers are expecting some details, but are not interested in hearing you go into a lot of personal information or run through your entire resume.

2)     Employers want to know if you have a legitimate interest in their community.  They frequently ask, "Why are you interested in practicing in our city?"  Do your homework so you are capable of commenting on the positive aspects of the employer's city.  If you can tie in your experiences from a visit and/or have family in the area, your response will be stronger. 

3)     "Why are you interested in our firm?" is a key question.  Your response to this question is important.  Employers listen for responses that indicate knowledge of the firm and that focus on why the nature of the firm's practice appeals to you. 

QUESTIONS STUDENTS MAY ASK LEGAL EMPLOYERS

Making a strong final impression during an interview can be as important as making a good first impression. The goal is to ask a few intelligent questions that show you have done your research about the employer/position and that you were paying attention during the interview. While you may ask questions throughout the interview, you should ask the interviewer a couple of questions toward the end. Remember that interviewers may draw conclusions based on the questions you do or do not ask.

Click here for a list of sample questions you might ask a prospective employer.

CALL-BACK INTERVIEWS

When you receive a call-back invitation, respond as quickly as possible to the employer by scheduling the interview or declining the invitation.  It is usually best to accept the first date offered to you.  If you have accepted another position or decide you are not interested in the employer, help the employer (and your fellow students) by declining the invitation promptly. 

Large and mid-size firms may pay your expenses involved with the interview process.  Ask the recruiting coordinator or hiring administrator how you should handle transportation, hotel and meals.  Small firms, judges, legal aid organizations, and government agencies generally do not reimburse interview expenses. 

Many times, call-back interviews include a set of consecutive interviews with different individuals or a longer panel interview with a number of attorneys.  It may take place throughout the morning and afternoon.  Each person with whom you interview will be providing you with different information and looking for different skills and personality traits.  Even though you may be asked the same question by multiple people and you may have interviews over the course of several hours, be sure you maintain your enthusiasm and respond to the questions asked.  Each person needs to see you at your best.  Also, be prepared for an interview situation where you are expected to ask most of the questions. 

On a call-back interview, there is more often than not a meal involved.  Hiring members want to interact with you to ascertain your social skills and make sure you are a good “fit” with the firm.  You want them to see that you can be trusted to interact well with clients and other employees!  Be mindful of dining etiquette.  Even during meals and in between sessions, you are being evaluated.

A Sample Employer Evaluation Form—How will you rate?

Please answer the following questions by circling a number on the scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent):

                                                                                                       poor      excellent

1.    Student's preparation for the interview:

Student had researched and was familiar with our practice and office                      1   2   3   4   5

Student demonstrated an interest in our office and practice                                     1   2   3   4   5

Student asked informed questions about our office                                                  1   2   3   4   5

Comments:

 

2.    Professional demeanor:

Student shows career direction and focus                                                                  1   2   3   4   5

Student was responsive to questions                                                                          1   2   3   4   5

Student demonstrated good oral communication skills                                               1   2   3   4   5

Student possesses self-confidence                                                                             1   2   3   4   5

Student demonstrated good analytical ability                                                              1   2   3   4   5

Student was well-groomed and wore appropriate business attire                                1   2   3   4   5

Overall first impression of student                                                                              1   2   3   4   5

Comments:

 

3.    Student's application materials:

Resume layout and appearance                                                                                  1   2   3   4   5      

Key points of resume stand out                                                                                  1   2   3   4   5

Resume is detailed and action-oriented                                                                      1   2   3   4   5

Cover letter was clear and concise                                                                              1   2   3   4   5

Writing sample demonstrates good legal writing ability                                              1   2   3   4   5

Last Updated: 6/9/16