10 Ways to Be More Persuasive in Job Interviews

By: Steve Grumm & Maria Hibbard

Lisa Abrams, Director of Career Services at the University of Chicago, contributed a terrific article to the August edition of the NALP Bulletin.  The article, “Ten Ways Law Students Can Be More Persuasive in Interviews,” offers solid advice for students and recent grads alike.  At its core, the article is a reminder that even though an interview is a real-time experience requiring job-seekers to think and speak on their feet, pre-interview preparation is critical.  We all perform better in these settings when we’ve thought through what we want to say, what questions we may expect to be asked, and how we may answer those questions in a way that puts our best professional foot forward.  Abrams’s ten tips begin…

  1. Thoroughly and thoughtfully research the organization.
  2. You must be able to answer the question “Why did you go to law school?”
  3. To show you’re a valuable candidate, be able to identify your strongest skills (at least three and give up to three examples of each from your educational experience or work history.
  4. Be able to tell the firm, government agency, or public interest organization what you think is special about them….

Check out the full article here to read the rest of the tips. Our takes:

Rising 2L (Maria here): I’m reminded especially of what I’ve learned through my background as a musician when reading this article. I wouldn’t dare go into an audition or major performance without hours and hours of practice and some time spent in mental preparation – as I search for jobs for my second law school summer and beyond, I’m reminded that I need to apply this same kind of diligence to my preparation for interviewing. One of Lisa’s tips focuses on the need to practice answers to interview questions out loud – although I’ve spent thousands of hours practicing presentations, solos, or other types of performances, I don’t think I’ve ever practiced verbally articulating answers to interview questions!

Lisa’s second tip focuses on the need to have a succinct answer to “Why did you go to law school?” – although I could ramble on and on about the myriad of experiences that led me to the legal profession, after reading Lisa’s tip I want to edit this answer down to a type of “newspaper headline,” saying “I went to law school because of ____ and ____.” One sentence can convey all of the important information, but this idea, or “theme” can be elaborated if needed.

Employer (Steve here): as noted above, interview prep is vital.  In doing background research, job seekers should not just memorize facts and figures from an organization’s website.  Talk to your career services office to find out if alumni of your school work(ed) with the organization.  While it may not be appropriate to reach out to current employees of an organization, it could be useful to reach out to former employees for their take on the organization’s culture, how they carry out their mission, etc.  Also, perform Google News searches to see if and why the organization is making headlines.  You must be able to convey why you want to work with this organization during the interview.  Gathering as much background info as possible will help you to do that.

I could write on and on about this topic but Lisa’s article succinctly captures the key tips.  Good luck on the job hunt!

Bonus: check out PSLawNet’s interview tips  tailored specifically for public interest jobs.

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