GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona
1L OCI season is upon us. This may be the first time you are going to a professional interview. Even if you are a seasoned interview pro, the OCI interview process is different. While other job interviews might ask you to discuss your job history, qualifications, and your strengths and weaknesses, this may not happen at 1L OCI. In fact, you might spend your precious 20 minutes discussing your motivation for coming to law school and exciting things from your hobbies list.
Remember this is not your only interview, just a screening interview. Your job is to be memorable, likable and to demonstrate genuine interest for the firm or organization. Here are five tips to help you thrive during OCI.
#1 Review Your Resume.
I know you wrote it, but how long ago? Try to look at it with fresh eyes. What stands out? Your resume is fair game for interview questions. At my school, we had mock interviews last week. I had answers ready and was prepared to talk about one interest that most people ask about. However, my interviewer asked about a usually overlooked activity. I knew it was on my resume and could speak about it, yet, no one had EVER asked about it! So it felt like that question had come out of nowhere.
#2 Research the firm or organization
First, make sure you can pronounce the firm name correctly. I recently read an OCI horror story about that! Next, be sure that you can discuss aspects of the particular firm office or organization. For example, be sure to know the type of specialties that specific office has. Not all offices have the same specialties. At a recent firm presentation, the attorney shared that one of the worst things that can happen is when a law student says they know they want to practice X law, but the office they are interviewing at does not handle it.
#3 Prepare Questions to Ask
Remember your goal in the screener interview is to get a callback. If you can ask meaningful questions about the firm or organization, it shows that you have a real interest in working there. Consider asking about the firm culture, probono work, and how attorneys collaborate. The key here is to show that you’ve done your homework (see #2) and have a genuine interest in the firm or organization. Come up with more question than you can ask, as running out of questions is as bad as not having any.
- Pro Tip: If you know who will be interviewing you, be sure to have looked up their CV/Resume. You can ask about their recently published works or cases and perhaps find some common interests.
#4 Dress Appropriately
For your initial interview, a suit is best in almost all cases. Check with your law school career office, but as you are likely familiar, most seem to recommend conservative, dark color suits. I would suggest that you make sure you wear it a few days before the interview to make sure you are comfortable. Nothing is worse than not to be comfortable in what you are wearing while trying to impress others, so make sure you can sit, stand and walk with confidence.
- Pro Tip and Fashion PSA: Look at your suit jacket, pants, and skirt. Do you an odd X (usually over a flap)? Yes? CUT IT OFF! That X is a tacking stitch, and it is meant to prevent inappropriate creasing during shipping and when things are hanging on a rack. Still not sure what I am talking about? Check out this article: https://www.buzzfeed.com/tomvellner/suit-jacket-tacking-stitch
#5 Be Yourself!
Yes, interviewing is intense! Yes, you are trying to show your best traits and qualities in 20 minutes! Yes, there is another student outside waiting to do the same thing!
BUT… BE YOURSELF.
Don’t try to be the person you think they want you to be as you will likely come across in a way that just makes things worse. The screener interview is all about “fit.” Do you fit in with the culture of the firm? Are you a person they would want to work with every day? Are you a person they can trust? These are all questions the firm or organization is trying to determine. If you are not authentic, you might find yourself in a miserable situation for the entire summer. Remember you are awesome… Be yourself!
Do you have more tips to share? Personal OCI stories? Did these tips help you? Let me know over at the @The1LLife on Twitter and Instagram.