How to Navigate OCI
June 29, 2017
Navigating the on-campus interview process can feel overwhelming and nerve-wracking. We’re excited to share tips from Paul Hastings’ Talent Acquisition Director, Cindy Hasson, on preparing for this unique hiring process.
Do your homework!
Gather as much information about firms you are applying to in advance of your interview. Consider the firm history, culture, and recent accolades. Most firms highlight this information on their website. Being knowledgeable about the firms you are interviewing with will make for a smoother more successful process and the interviewers will be impressed with your interest and knowledge about their firm. Additional topics you may want to research include:
- Firm location(s)
- Office size(s) and size of the summer program in the office locations you are interested in.
- Primary Practice areas in each location
- Does the Summer Program offer a rotation across practices?
Think about what is important to you and know exactly for what and to where you are applying.
Resumes, cover letters, and writing samples—OH MY!
When it comes to preparing your application materials the more TLC they receive, the better! Utilize family, friends, and your law school’s career services team for thorough review of your application materials.
Remember, your materials represent you so you want to be sure they are typo-free, clear, and concise.
A few additional points regarding your materials:
- Be sure key skills and accomplishments are clear and easily identifiable
- Bullet point experiences
- Your materials should be tech-friendly: save your materials as a PDF and edit the scanned text to be searchable automatically with optical character recognition (OCR).
What about my Grades?
While it is true that law firms are searching for the candidates with outstanding academic credentials to join their summer programs, we also seek individuals rich in experience. In addition to your academic credentials be sure to highlight prior work, volunteer, and leadership experiences as well as valuable contributions in a team setting.
How to Stand Out from the Crowd: Just be you!
Interviewing is an art. Nerves are a normal part of interviewing and are to be expected. Trust us; the best thing to remember is to be YOU.
To shake any nerves, practice your 30-second “elevator pitch” to your family, friends, or even pets until it feels natural.
How Do I Develop my Elevator Pitch?
If you found yourself in an elevator with a firm’s hiring manager and had only 30-seconds, how would you present yourself?
Introduce yourself; give a brief background of your experience and education and then what you are looking for in a position. If you are interested in a particular practice area explain why. If you are undecided, that’s okay too. You can focus on why you went to law school.
Try imagining the roles reversed—if you were the hiring manager and found yourself in an elevator with a candidate who wants to works for you—what would you need to know in 30 seconds to decide if you want that person to join your team?
Congrats, you now have your 30-second pitch!
Research the firm you are interviewing with, not the interviewer. Last minute scheduling changes happen frequently. If you are prepared to ask thoughtful questions about the firm and practice, you will be prepared regardless of the interviewer.
Research more than just the firm’s website for information. Reach out to law school alumni at the firms you are interested in to gain an inside perspective. Check out Vault, Chambers Associate, and other websites for additional information about law firms.
There is almost always time for you to ask questions, so be sure to have thoughtful substantive questions prepared! Try not to ask questions to which you could find the answer on the firm’s website but instead, focus on questions that will provide you with insight not otherwise available.
Remember, the interview is your chance to learn about the firm.
Some questions we suggest include:
- How did you decide which practice area to pursue?
- What made you (the interviewer) choose to work at the firm?
- What training and development programs are available to junior associates at the firm?
- How often do associates collaborate across practice areas and with other offices?
Following Up & Thank You Notes
When should you follow up with your on-campus interviewer? Should you send a hand-written or electronic thank you note?
The good news is, most law firms make callback decisions quickly. Typically you will hear back from a firm within a few business days. If you don’t hear from a firm within a week, you should feel free to email the recruiting department to inquire about the status of your application.
Many students choose to send thank you notes following their screening interview. While this is a thoughtful gesture, keep in mind that your on-campus interview meets dozens of students and an email from every applicant can overwhelm an inbox!
If asked to provide additional materials (i.e. updated resume, transcript or writing sample), be sure to do so as quickly as possible and save your personalized thank you note for the callback interview.
Congratulations on receiving a callback interview!
Try to schedule callback interviews with various firms during the same trip together. Firms often share the cost of your travel expenses, and grouping interviews can help reduce cost and save you time.
If you are interested in a particular practice area, please do let the recruiting department know so they can try to match your interests with an interviewer in that practice area.Note, it is okay to be undecided as to practice area interest. Many firms have a broad practice and are looking for students who are flexible and have varying interests.
Schedule your callback interviews as you receive them—interview slots tend to fill up quickly and if you need to reschedule, contact the recruiting department immediately. Again, to prepare for your callback interviews, focus on the firm’s practice areas and any information you can find on-line about recent news, verdicts, and deals, rather than the individual interviewers on your schedule as interviewers will continue to shift to accommodate a firm’s business needs.
A Final Reminder…
Remember, this process is an excellent opportunity to learn about different firms, make connections, and speak with lawyers across various practice areas and geographic regions. Interviewing is a two way process, Ask thoughtful questions about what matters most to you. In many ways, you are interviewing the firm as much as we are interviewing you. Good Luck!
This is a sponsored blog post from Paul Hastings LLP. You can view Paul Hastings' Vault profile here.
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