Every interview is a chance for you to learn about the law firm, position, expectations, and team culture in order for you to make the best decision possible for advancing your legal technology career. But your main goal in an interview should always be to win your interviewer over by impressing them with your technical skills and previous experience. You’ll also win if you’re making a genuine connection and authentically showing your personality. If landing the interview isn’t what’s hindering your job search, but you can’t seem to receive an offer, our tips can help take your interviewing skills to the next level.
Be energetic about the job, the law firm, your interviewer, and the possibility of working in the position for which you’re interviewing. Enthusiasm is contagious, and if the interviewer genuinely enjoys the time spent interviewing you, you’re more likely to get the job.
Focus on the Questions Asked
Take a few seconds after a question is asked to make sure you understand it. Re-frame to clarify if you are responding with the type of information they are looking for. For example, if the question is “tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a supervisor,” your clarifying response could be “would you like me to discuss my relationship with my last supervisor?”. If you are even slightly unsure about a specific question or need time to formulate and process your response, ask for clarification: “Can you be more specific? I want to make sure I respond accurately to what you are asking for.” Then answer the question the interviewer is asking; avoid volunteering facts which are irrelevant.
Share Your Accomplishments and Achievements
Prepare yourself to discuss accomplishments and achievements in your previous roles. Think through the following questions and how you would appropriately communicate your value to the interviewer. Make sure you spend more time highlighting professional accomplishments, not personal ones.
- Did you institute any new systems or changes? What was the situation that led to the change? Who approved that system? Why was this system selected over others? What happened as a result?
- Were you ever promoted? Why were you promoted? How long between promotions? Did you do something outstanding? How much more responsibility? Did you get to manage people? How many? Were you promoted by more than one party? Were you given significant salary increases or raises?
- Did you train anyone? Did you develop a training technique? Compare your results to others. Are others using your technique? Why is that?
- Did you help to establish any new goals or objectives for your company? Did you convince management that they should adopt these goals or objectives? Why were they adopted?
- Did you change the nature or scope of your job? Why or how did you redefine your position? Have others with similar positions had their positions redefined because of you? Were there responsibility changes because of this? What were they?
- Did you ever undertake a project that was not part of your responsibility because you liked the problem?
Interviewers respond positively to self-confidence, positive attitudes, and politeness. Speak positively about former experiences; never complain about a previous assignment or employer, instead, emphasize the positives. For example, let’s say the manager you worked for was controlling and lacked technical ability. You could throw blame at this individual and focus on the negative reasons you are looking for a change, OR you could talk positively about what you’re looking for in a manager. For example, you might say: “I am looking for an opportunity where I can learn from a good mentor and strong technical leader and use my existing technical skills and knowledge to make decisions that will have a positive impact on the user community.”
You should also consider why you made each career change and how that was an overall part of your career strategy. Create a good impression by speaking about your proven capabilities and your ability to acquire new skills.
Identify areas that could be viewed as a concern prior to an interview, and prepare responses to these concerns. Tell the truth! If you have prior related experience, offer your interviewer an example of when you used the skill or technology they are asking about. If you don’t have that experience, think of a parallel you can draw. Be honest about the experience you lack, but demonstrate your eagerness to learn.
Interview your Interviewer
Remember to truly consider the position, the law firm’s company culture, and the person interviewing you. Be attentive to the job description the interviewer offers, and ask questions. You don’t want to realize after you’ve been hired that the job is a bad fit! At the same time, keep your questions focused on the law firm’s needs and how they hope to benefit from a new hire, rather than questions that are focused on benefits, compensation, or what’s in it for you. Ask your interviewer who the company is ideally looking for, how he or she feels about the company culture, and what an average day in the role would be like. Consider asking a few of these questions:
- How do you measure success in your company? Tell me about the best person you have ever had in this position and what made that person unique.
- What are some of the common denominators that exist with the more successful employees of this company?
- What are the biggest challenges one will face in this role?
- What are the two most important problems that need to be addressed/corrected in the first six months by the person in this position?
- What are the key responsibilities for this position and which are most important?
- What results are expected of this position? What are examples of the best results produced by people in this role? Why did my predecessor leave this position?
- Tell me about your background and what attracted you here.
- What are some of the company’s short and long-range objectives?
- In what areas does this company excel? In what areas does this company have some limitations?
- What are the company or department goals for this year and next?
Ask about Timeline
After your interview, briefly summarize how you fit the role for which you are interviewing. Then ask when they will make a decision about who they plan to hire. You can follow up by clarifying a time you should check in with them.
Say Thank You
It may seem obvious, but remember to say thank you in person as the interview ends. Be sure to follow up with a thank you note for every interviewer. Use your discretion if the decision timeline allows time for a handwritten note sent through standard mail, or if an emailed note would be more appropriate. Cite specifics from the meeting and cover any areas further that you think may need supplementation. This is an additional way to show your value and what you can bring to the company. Whichever way you choose to approach it, make sure you say thanks.
Remember during the interview process, your goal is to get to the next step and ultimately, receive an offer. Sometimes you will hear something in an interview that may create concern about the position even if everything else is perfect about the opportunity. In cases like that, we always suggest you remain positive during the interview and come back to the issue after the interview or in a follow-up meeting. In many cases what you perceived to be an issue will turn out not to be. Unfortunately, your negative response during the interview—in either body language or verbally— could eliminate you from consideration because your interviewer might feel that you are not interested or don’t like aspects of the job.
Keep in mind that you ultimately have the power to make the final decision. Aim to win the interview! You can always turn down an offer if you don’t feel right about the position but you can’t turn down an offer you don’t receive.
Our technical recruiters excel at offering personalized advice to legal technology job seekers like you. Start a conversation with a member of our team today: