Interview season: How to make a great first impression

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GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

It’s that time of year again: interview season!

Whether you’re a 1L or 2L applying for an internship or a 3L looking for a post-graduation job, you’ll definitely be doing some interviews in the coming weeks and months. The interview is such an important part of the hiring process. It’s your first (and likely only) chance to meet your interviewer/ future boss face-to-face before a hiring decision is made. With that being said, you want to make a good impression. I spoke with some law students and internship supervisors to see what makes a good interview. Here’s what they had to say:

Dress professionally

You may end up working in a more laid-back office, but you should always wear a suit or dress and blazer to the interview. It shows the interviewer that you take the position seriously and that you’re able to look put together and professional. Take time a few days before your interview to try on your outfit and look at it critically. Make sure your pants are an appropriate length and your shirt isn’t pulling at the seams. Fit goes a long way when trying to look professional.

Be confident

Interviews can be stressful and it’s common to be nervous, but don’t let it show. There are some little things you can do that will mask your nerves and come across as poised and confident. Make sure to stand and sit with good posture, give a firm handshake, and make eye contact. That’s all it takes to start the interview off on the right foot.

Be early

My former boss once said to me, “Ten minutes early is early. Five minutes early is on time. On time is late.”  You want to aim to walk into the office 5-10 minutes before your interview is supposed to start, so keep that in mind when planning your morning. Build in some extra time in case you have car trouble, hit traffic, or get lost. It’s better to sit in your car and wait until its time to go in than to be running late.

Bring copies of everything

You likely sent a resume, transcript, and maybe a writing sample when you applied for the job, but that doesn’t mean the person interviewing you has it in front of them. It may be buried in their inbox or lost in a stack of papers on their desk. You’ll look well-prepared if you’re able to hand them a fresh copy.

Write down questions

At the end of pretty much every interview, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions for him/her. Nothing kills an interview faster than not having questions. Before you go in for the interview, write down a handful of questions and stick the list in your pocket or bag. You may remember your questions and not need your list, but if you get nervous and can’t remember you can pull your list out. It’ll give you a chance to gather your thoughts and the interviewer will likely be impressed that you took time to prepare.

Follow up

Whether the interview went well or not, you should always follow up and thank the person for meeting with you. Some people recommend writing handwritten notes, but I prefer email since it will arrive faster. Whichever way you want to go, you should write and send the thank you within 24 hours of the interview.

What are your interview tips? Tweet them to me @The3LLife!

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