Most of our candidates are confident interviewees. However, we also have experience with highly qualified attorneys who find the interview process stressful and who struggle with the prospect of performance anxiety. It is the latter group that I have in mind for this inaugural column.
These six tips will not only help you prepare for your next interview, but also boost your confidence and stick the landing—allowing you to stand out as the best candidate.
1. Do your homework. Research the company and the industry and know your interviewers’ backgrounds. Spend some time on Google, not only reading about the company’s history, but also about any recent news—particularly affecting the legal department—and be prepared to speak about it. When you know who will be interviewing you, check him out on LinkedIn and learn what you can about his professional career. Then, prepare questions that reflect your research and your interest in the job.
2. A positive mental attitude is a critical ally. Bolster your confidence by recalling (perhaps listing) your achievements, successes, strengths and talents. Before the interview, reflect on the most positive points of your career. Brush up on particular projects at which you excelled, awards you won or successful presentations you gave. This will not only serve as the mental ego boost that will help carry you through the interview, but also prepare you to speak about specifics of your career achievements.
3. Convey confidence, self-assurance, energy and enthusiasm. Practice! Interviewing is a skill. Remind yourself that you are the most qualified candidate, and you refuse to lose out to someone who simply has better interviewing skills. Grab a friend—one that has recently been on a similar interview or is experienced in conducting interviews—and go through a dry run or two.
4. Listen to each question and answer it concisely. If it’s suitable to elaborate or cite examples about specific experiences, do so concisely. Less is more. Most importantly, answer the question the interviewer asks. All too often, an interviewee loses track of the question asked and loses one more chance to shine in the interview.
5. Anticipate the questions. Chances are, this isn’t your first job interview, so you have a good idea what to expect. But reach out to friends and acquaintances in your field who have recently interviewed, and pick their brains about the questions that may be asked. Think through your answers—be specific and work to emphasize the positive and eliminate the negative. Then, as suggested in Tip No. 3, grab a friend and PRACTICE!
6. Dress well. The old adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t apply in the context of job interviews. The whole point is for your potential employer to assess your ability to do the work, and her first impression happens the moment she sees you. If you are dressed well, you will feel terrific. Think about what to wear, and make sure it’s clean and fits well. Pay attention to the details: clean your glasses, trim your nails, shine your shoes. Simply put, look well-groomed.