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August 26, 2007

Interviewing with an agency? Or a non-profit?

When the interviewer asks "Why do you want to work for my agency?" he or she is giving you a chance to answer the easiest question imaginable which, if answered incorrectly will sink your candidacy like a stone.

At the DC Interview Program, the Federal Election Commission's interviewer noted that students often miss a huge opportunity to hit a home run by failing to mention the precise mission of the agency or office to which they are applying. He used his own office as an example:

"I am interested in making sure that elections are free and fair" or "I am strongly interested in voting rights" are both three strikes and out for his agency, which works ONLY on campaign finance. On the other hand, "I think that McCain-Feingold poses interesting problems" would be a home run in his interviews.

Managing Lunch Whether Networking or Interviewing


1. Dress like your host: if you are meeting during or after work, wear a suit. You can never go wrong. If your meeting is at the midpoint of her Saturday morning run, sweats are fine.


2. Eat from the middle of the menu. Unless your host urges you to eat the most expensive item, don't go there. You are spending someone else's money -- and if you are lunching with a partner, at the end of the year, it comes from that shareholder's personal pocket.

3. No finger food; no red food. 'Nuff said.


4. None. This is a 21st century business lunch. The three-martini middle-of-the-last-century lunch was then; this is now.


5. This your chance to put your best foot forward. Before coming to what you hope might be the main event -- talking about your prospects for work -- there will be a time for small talk and general chat that is friendly but steers clear of TMI issues (wild frolicking, drinking, youthful indiscretion) and questions that are entirely self-serving (is this place a sweatshop? are the partners jerks?). "TMI" is truly none of their business; "self-serving" questions can be asked in other ways. (What do you do outside of work? How do the partners communicate with associates? With one another?")


6. What is the best way to answer the question: "Will you work for us?" if I know that there are other jobs and firms that I am more interested in, while I am still very interested in this particular firm?

Unlike the sales pitch for purchasing a car ("What would it take for you to buy the car TODAY?"), you are unlikely to get the hard sell in an interview or callback lunch. A fair answer, though, is that you are at the beginning of the interview process and you hope that you will be able to touch base with [your host] as you proceed, to answer questions and to help you assess the information that you are gathering.

August 16, 2007

Online Job Search Strategy and Resources

Online job searching (as well as responding to job ads) is typically a
passive activity and a small percentage of one's time should be spent
using this strategy to find an actual position. The candidate's goal,
in my mind, is to get him or herself in front of potential colleagues
and/or employers to learn and to promote his or her abilities. Am I
saying don't use this strategy? No. 'You can't win the lottery without
buying a ticket', and adding an online strategy to your search may
increase one's chances. Heck, I got my previous job through an ad that
I responded to online. But it certainly shouldn't be your only method.

* Using online resources can help you understand the various legal
markets, learn about practice areas, and find people who are doing the
work you want to do (your future colleagues).

* Identify the employers you wish to work for and/or learn more
about and visit their websites directly. There are often listings of
jobs opportunities at employers' sites as well as specific instructions
to apply.

* When uploading your documents at an employer's website or an online
search site, ensure the format is readable. Be careful here. If you have
a choice between a doc, txt, or pdf format, strongly consider the pdf format
to ensure what you've created is what the employer will see.

* Once you've submitted your documents, consider following up with a
phone call to see if your materials have been received and ask about the
hiring process.

* Below is a list of sites in no particular order that you may want to
bookmark. I've included some search-related sites as well as ones
that will help you understand legal markets. These
resources can also help you to locate possible contacts for
informational interview/networking opportunities, etc.

* There are also many, many more general sites to
** Find jobs posted through local newspapers (http://www.startribune.com/197 )
and the big ones like http://www.monster.com/ and http://www.careerbuilder.com/)
** To get additional career development assistance (e.g.


http://bcgsearch.com/ (search firm)
http://legalemploy.com/ (includes a listing of many other applicable sites)

Again, my advice is to get a lot of activity going and to use various job search strategies.

August 10, 2007

Interviewing Advice from a National Consultant

Mary Crane http://www.marycrane.com/home.jsp is a consultant to Fortune 500 corporations and law firms, a non-practicing lawyer and a former assistant White House chef. She has spoken often at NALP Conferences, and offers some conservative, practical advice for students as they begin to interview.

Preparing Candidates to Fit

Students should know that business etiquette begins with the business interview. Here are ten rules that can help your students land the jobs they want:

Rule 1 Arrive on time. Nothing creates a worse impression that a candidate who arrives late. It demonstrates a lack of respect for the interviewer’s time

Rule 2 Dress appropriately. Remind students that they should dress for the jobs they want. All clothing should be crisply pressed, and shoes should be business-like (no sandals; no flip-flops). Tattoos should be covered, and any extra body studs should be removed

Rule 3 Carry a portfolio or briefcase that holds a back-up copy of the résumé, a fresh notepad, and a professional-looking pen. Backpacks should be left in student lockers.

Rule 4 A candidate’s initial handshake should be firm and warm. Pump the interviewer’s hand once or twice, then release.

Rule 5 Make relaxing eye contact and smile throughout the interview.

Rule 6 Think carefully about responses to all questions. What students say and how they say it will leave a lasting impression upon the interviewer.

Rule 7 Be prepared by researching the employer ahead of time. Students should be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the law firm or corporation with which they are interviewing.

Rule 8 Be polite and courteous. Whether participating in an on-campus interview or a call-back, students should remember to be polite to everyone they encounter.

Rule 9 Be truthful. Don’t lie. Don’t brag. Any candidate who does will eventually be caught.

Rule 10 Don’t be a “no show.? If a student decides to forego employment with a specific firm or company, he or she should inform the career services office before the scheduled interview. By doing so, the student may allow another candidate the opportunity to interview.
Find more interviewing and career advice at www.marycrane.com and the “Read Mary? page.

Republished article posted by Susan Gainen on August 16, 2006 07:15 AM