by Lynne Rhys-Jones, JD, CPRW
You’ve got a great resume, and you’re starting to get requests for interviews. As an ex-lawyer who got plenty of practice doing the Big Firm Law Clerk Interview Tango (an intricate and frenzied succession of 15-minute interviews lasting as many as 12 hours at a time), I’ve become something of an expert on talking my way into jobs. I’ve also been on the other side of the hiring table, asking the hard questions. Based on my experience, I’ve developed some interviewing guidelines, and I offer them to you here:
Do Your Research
First, research the company and the relevant industry. If you’re hungry for a job, you may not really care where you work. But your interviewers are looking for someone who wants to be there and can be passionate about their mission. Knowing about the company can help you convey the interest that will help you stand out from the crowd.
Second, have some questions of your own to ask. As you’re researching the company, look for things to ask about: “I saw your press release about your expansion into the micro-widget market. What has the response been from your competitors?” Or more generically, “How do you think this company differs from your competitors in terms of work culture?” Asking questions of your own accomplishes three things. First, it shows your interest in the company. Second, it kills time. And third, it helps put you in control of the interview.
Prepare for What the Interviewer Might Ask You
Third, think of the hardest questions an interviewer might ask. Think out your answers and rehearse them until they flow easily. Don’t forget about questions like “what are your weaknesses?” and “what do you want to be doing in five years?” As you’re pondering, consider what the interviewer might want to hear. Then, craft honest answers that will address the interviewer’s concerns.
Wear Your ‘Sunday’ Best
Fourth, dress up. If you’re not sure what to wear, it’s better to over-dress than to under-dress. Doing so lets the interviewer know you understand business culture, and conveys that you really care about being there.
Interviews can be stressful, but they’re simply conversations with other human beings. Prepare thoroughly, clean yourself up, and relax. Even if it doesn’t go as well as you hope, you’ll learn from it. Over time, you’ll gain skill and confidence that will land you the job you want!