LSAT Kung Fu Blog / Semester 2, Week 9: Interviews, Part One
Semester 2, Week 9: Interviews, Part One
Well, I’m on Spring Break and I’m writing this instead of, like, wrestling smallish alligators in a kiddie pool filled with caramel pudding, or heli-skiing in the Alps, or doing three-legged-races and trust falls as part of the Yakuza’s “team-building getaway 2018,” or playing tuxedoed high-stakes Baccarat in Monte Carlo, or bespoke-suited Texas-hold-‘em in Las Vegas, or even track-suited Pai gow in Atlantic City, all because of my steely resolve and unwavering commitment to you, dear reader.
The whole reason I’m writing today instead of taking the week off is that I was supposed to hear back this week from the two offices where I applied for summer internships. But I have not yet heard back from them.
This might mean that neither place has decided to hire me! Or it might mean that they’re struggling to decide between many talented applicants (and me), or it might mean that they’re just really busy and hiring a summer intern is just sort of not the highest priority. I don’t know! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I had hoped to tell you about how I conducted my interviews, in the nature of a how-to sort of post, but to be meaningful, that sort of didactic writing really requires having received, you know, job offers. So I’m going to write a bit about the interview process and the strategies I used, and I’ll follow up with you later once I’ve gotten offers (to confirm that these strategies worked for me) or once I’ve gotten rejections (to speculate as to where I might have gone wrong).
I applied for two positions. Neither is a paid position. One of the two would be more prestigious, but both would likely offer me the opportunity to get some serious hands-on legal experience. I could learn a lot in either position, which was my main goal in applying.
Here’s what I did, and what I suggest that you think about when the time comes:
- Research the organizations and the people you’ll be speaking with. You want a good sense of the kind of work they do, the number of people in the office, what a summer intern there typically does, and where you might fit in. Your interviewers are trying to decide whether you’d be a good fit in their office, and so are you. Don’t set yourself up for a shit summer because you didn’t think about how you’d fit into the office you’re applying to.
- Create a list of questions to ask during the interview. Think hard about the day-to-day in the office you’re interviewing with. What do you not know? Which parts of your daily work can you not picture? Write down a list of three or four questions about the office. Do your research first (that’s why it was point 1). You don’t want to ask questions that are answered on the firm’s website. You do want to show that you’ve given the whole enterprise thought, and that you’re sincerely interested in the work they do. Having some questions to ask them conveys both of those things.
- Develop a personal story bank. This is probably the bulk of your interview prep. You want to have three or four anecdotes at the ready that are generally applicable, and that highlight some of the important traits that make you a good hire. With all of your stories, think about how to tell them so that you can tie them into the big picture you’re painting for your interviewer. Here’s how I suggest you organize your thinking:
- Story A is about a time you showed leadership. When did you take charge of a situation? It doesn’t have to be a work story. It needs to show that you are capable of handling things. It could be from a time when you were babysitting, so long as it demonstrates your ability to manage interactions with other people.
- Story B is about a time you creatively solved a problem. The process here is important; how did you apply creative or novel thought to the problem you were facing? This also doesn’t have to be a work story; it totally could be about the time your cousin was in a jam and she called you for help. The big picture is that you’re cool under pressure and you can think laterally to create solutions.
- Story C is about a time you worked well with someone else. The big picture here is that you want the people who might hire you to know that you’ll be good to work with. You can tell a story about how fun you are at parties, so long as it also somehow conveys that you work hard, take ownership of your responsibilities, and that you can communicate with and work alongside other people.
- Story D is about a time you went big and failed. There’s a beautiful cliché about practicing law that says “sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.” I’m a sucker for that idea. A story about a time things didn’t go the way you planned, but you made the best of it afterward shows confidence, humility, and the ability to learn from mistakes. You’re going to make mistakes during your summer job; let your interviewer know that you can self-correct instead of imploding when it happens.
- Story E is about a time you were kind. The people interviewing you are going to have to work with you all summer. It’s nicer to work with nice people. You aren’t trying to show that you’re a door mat and people can just walk all over you; you are smart, capable, creative, a quick learner, and you’re also nice to be around. Dang. Now I want to hire you!
You don’t have to have five stories. Three or four will probably be enough. You do want to be ready before you walk in the door with plenty of material about yourself that shows the interviewer how great you are. Good grades are very nice, and good references are important, but it’s hard to picture succeeding without being able to convey in some way that you’re capable and smart. A good set of prepared anecdotes is a great way to convey that.
Do these techniques work?
I mean, we’ll know whether they worked for me soon (and I’ll tell you once I know!). If I didn’t get either job, I’ll come back to this post and strike through all this advice and write a note at the bottom explaining that it didn’t work out.
But I don’t think I’ll have to do that.
Hours for the week: Class = 10.75 / Study = 1.5 / Other = 7.5 / Total Time on Schoolwork = 19.75 / Total Time on Campus = 39
Questions? Comments? Complaints? Post them below, or shoot me an email.
Be good to one another, for we need it now more than maybe ever,
P.S. Looking for a smoking hot Velocity LSAT discount code? Use this code: DAVE10 at checkout to get 10% off your enrollment in any course! That code will work throughout 2018.