Receiving an invitation to interview with an employer is an exciting accomplishment, but there is still more work to do. You should have already thought a great deal about what you want out of a career, what your interests are, and how the employer fits into the picture. The task before you now is to think about how you will articulate this information in a clear and intelligent manner.
You must go into the interview with a clear understanding of yourself and your goals. Be able to talk comfortably about your strengths and weaknesses, your vocational interests, and how your skills and experiences prepare you for the employer’s specific needs. Check out the Self-Assessment section of the website for more information on this topic.
Specifically, be sure you are able to answer the likely first question: Why do you want to work here?
Call the employer ahead of time to find out your schedule and with whom you will meet.
Talk to other people about the employer: CPD staff, professors, clinic fellows, adjunct professors, 2Ls, 3Ls or UST alumns who work of have worked for the company, and contacts of all of the above.
Review the corporation, firm, agency, office or organization’s website.
If you can find out names of attorneys working there, you can do other research, such as:
Finally, you can also find out whether they have spoken at other events, fundraisers, CLEs, whether they have written articles in online newspapers, newsletters, other journals: www.google.com.
One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to do a mock interview a few days before the real one. This is an excellent way to organize your thoughts, pace yourself, and boost your confidence. Your mock interviewer will be able to provide you with feedback to help you improve before the interview with your potential employer. Call CPD at (651)962-4860 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a 45-minute mock interview slot.
S = Situation (one sentence)
C = Challenge or Task you faced
A = Action you took (meat of the answer)
R = Result (Make sure you have a conclusion)
You must be fully prepared to ask a prospective employer questions at the end of an interview. Not only is this your chance to gather the information you’ll need to make an informed decision should the employer extend you an offer, but you will be evaluated on the quantity and quality of questions you ask. This is one of the best opportunities to distinguish yourself from other candidates, so use this to your advantage. Consider these examples to get you started:
For both public sector (i.e., government) and public interest employers, they want to see a commitment to their cause. This could be a commitment to public or community service generally.
Government employers are more likely to ask ethical or hypothetical questions geared to evaluate your ethical barometer. An example of an ethical question would be: "define justice?"
There is no real way to prepare for such a question, but bear in mind that when asked this type of question, the interviewer is more interested in how you think through the problem than if you gave the “right” answer.
What does this mean for the interview? In preparing your 3 three's, keep in mind the following:
Three reasons they should hire you:
The single most important reasons they should hire you is that you have experience with their client base. If you do not have experience with their client base, you can cite to experience with a disadvantaged population with something in common with their client base (some examples might be: low-income, people of color, GLBT, non-native English speakers, elderly, disabled, at-risk youth).
Regardless, you need to demonstrate an awareness of the special issues or sensitivities of the clients they are serving (e.g., victims of discrimination and systemic oppression, victims of domestic violence or torture, recent immigrants, the elderly, or individuals with disabilities).
Look at the job description to see what other skills they want or tailor the skills you highlight to the job description.
If the job is in greater Minnesota, you should also highlight any connection you have with the area, the community, and possibly any intention you have of working in the area post graduation, if appropriate.
Three reasons you want to work there:
One of the reasons you want to work there should be that you believe in their cause and in how they are working for their cause. In short, you think their work needs to be done and they are doing it right!
Now, the tricky part: how do you convey this?
- Lecture them / preach to the choir
- Spout platitudes
- Know their mission statement.
- Know their client base.
- Know why their client base needs free
legal serices or advocacy and convey that you "get it."
You can do this in a personal way – but not too personal. Give information about an experience that helped you “get it,” inspired your passion, etc. This must be concise and clearly linked to why you want to do this work.
Here are a few pointers for preparing to succeed with your telephone interview:
Remember if you need to do a phone interview during the day, you can come to the Student Services Suite and use an empty office. Please contact our front desk in advance so that we make sure a room is reserved for you.