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An estimated 4-minute read

Modern Bob's Guide to Happy Interviewing

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“Never give advice, unless asked for it thrice”- Old Chinese proverb



Since the recruitment season has started at many of the law schools, I thought I’d blog about something topical for a change (instead of the usual nonsense about life in a City law firm).

So, you’ve taken the first step after following Legal Poet’s 15 CV TIPS: Make RECRUITERS pounce on you lik.... You’ve been called for the interview.  Now what?

While I’m sure most of you are thinking that you already know all this stuff, interviews can be a frightening proposition for some people since almost everything they’ve done in law school boils down to that one hour. 

So here’s Modern Bob’s (unsolicited) short guide to breezing through your interviews: 

  1. If your interview is in the morning, make sure your alarm clock is working. If it’s in the afternoon/evening, account for traffic on the way. Being late for an interview probably means you’ll be late for work. Naturally, this doesn’t go down well with interviewers.
  2. On appearances:
    • They do matter. Polish your shoes, button your coat (in a three button suit, only the top two are ever buttoned without running the risk of being confused with a waiter- the rule being sometimes, always, never).
    • Wear a BLACK suit. I cannot emphasize this enough. Not brown, not dark blue, not gray (no matter how smart these may look on you). Also, please get used to the fact that your life is going to be dominated by this colour in many, many ways.
    • Since interviewers are looking for a lawyer, not the next big Tollywood star, try and avoid goatees/shoulder length hair (for guys).
    • Flashy ties/shirts are out- an ironed white shirt with a solid coloured (dark blue/maroon) tie should be perfectly acceptable.
    • Plunging necklines are very attractive on ladies in clubs and bars but do not convey the message of being particularly professional.
    • Make-up should be used with utmost discretion (this applies to both sexes).
  3. Go head and use their first names with foreign interviewers- they will not mind at all. With Indian firms, you’re better sticking to the standard Sir and Ma’am.
  4. Read up on the firm. At a minimum, you should know the firm’s strong practice groups and its most recent deals/awards. LI and  www.legal500.com are good places to start for Indian firms. Short profiles for the foreign law firms are available on www.legal500.com and www.legalweek.com. In a nutshell, if a firm is focussed on banking, you don’t want to be telling them about your fascination with real estate.
  5. On answering questions:
    • The Golden Rule is to lie as little as practically possible because if you get caught, the interview is over. If you don’t know the answer to a question, the best thing to do is just give the interviewer a self-deprecating smile and say so. Contrary to popular belief, honesty is appreciated.
    • Listen to what is being asked and take a minute before you answer. This shows the interviewer you are processing what has been said and are giving them a considered answer.
    • Wherever possible, substantiate your answers with illustrations from your past achievements.
    • If there’s a commercial awareness exercise involved (usually the case with foreign firms), do not be afraid to admit your view on things could be wrong. Interviewers will usually try and gently lead you the correct answer. Browbeating the interviewer into submission using your amazing mooting skills will get you no where.
  6. On asking questions:
    • If it’s possible, find out beforehand who is going to interview you. If you do find out, do a bit of research of them so you can ask them questions about their experiences at the firm. This allows them to speak, taking some of the pressure off you. I think you’ll find that the personal touch is appreciated.
    • Do not bring up salaries/bonuses in any context. It makes you sound silly, desperate and a bit premature considering you haven’t got the job as yet.
  7. Use any leverage you may have carefully. If you have offers from other firms, there is no harm in letting the interviewer know about these since this definitely makes you more attractive to them as a prospective employee. Don’t flaunt these offers in the faces of interviewers though. Most lawyers have very long memories.
  8. Flirting with the interviewer is not recommended as this is successful only in very rare and exceptional cases (for further details see The Recruit: Part 2).

Happy interviewing!

Until next time,

Modern Bob

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