The old adage “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” has particular meaning for those preparing for a job interview. When searching for a career in law, the stakes (and the competition) are especially high. But there are steps you can take to maximize your chances of impressing a potential employer. Consider these seven top tips:
Do your research
Study the potential employer, the hiring manager you’ll be dealing with, and the position itself. Do this online with search engines, or check out the company’s website and social media platforms. LinkedIn is a great resource. Also, seek out any existing connections you might have to people who already work at the company (or have in the past) and ask to take them out for coffee and pick their brain.
Dress for success
In the legal sector, business professional is a must. While some dress codes are business casual, how you will present yourself at your best and during trial is assessed during your first interaction. Pay attention to details such as personal grooming, wearing polished (closed-toe) shoes, minimal scent and general tidiness. Don’t make assumptions about the office culture you are entering and try to dress accordingly. Try to be comfortable and presentable – you don’t want your appearance to take over the interview.
Arrive at least 20 minutes early
This will give you a chance to settle in, catch your breath, take stock of your surroundings (and perhaps glean valuable information that you can put to use during the interview). You can also take this time toreview interview materials and responses. If you are worried about traffic, finding the interview location or other transportation delays, add more time so you still have time to prepare once you arrive.
Review common interview questions
Potential employers will want to know how your past experience relates to handling situations at their company. Itemize your skillset and be prepared to relate it to the company and position for which you are applying. Be prepared to articulate why you want the job, why you will be good at it and what you have to offer.
Practice body language
You want to appear relaxed and confident, even if you feel anything but. Physical cues such as a firm handshake, sitting fully in your seat and directly facing your interviewer, refraining from fidgeting and maintaining friendly eye contact are key to giving the impression that you are in control of the situation.
You want to demonstrate interest in your potential employer. Prepare a few questions in advance, but also ask questions that arise naturally from the discussion. This will show you are listening and genuinely interested in the position.
Many interviewees do not follow up, but this is essential in the interview process. Send a brief note a day or two following the interview and thank your interviewer for their time. Don’t pester; just say thanks. Courtesy goes a long way in making a lasting impression.
For more insights and interview tips and tricks, check out our candidate resource page. Contact SuitsOn Staffing to be put in contact with one of our legal recruiters to begin your legal career search. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to get recent news, open positions and updates from SuitsOn Staffing and the legal world!