Interviews: Just Stop Talking
Eddie Izzard, the famous British comedian who dresses in drag, said that success in life is premised 60 percent upon how you look, 30 percent on how you sound, and only 10 percent on what you actually say. Therefore, if you look good and sound good, people will believe in you.
This may shock you, but I am not at the same level as Eddie Izzard when it comes to importance or Facebook fans. I am just a lowly litigator. In my opinion, however, when it comes to practicing law, Eddie’s proposed percentages for success don’t measure up. Skills, language, facts and persuasion overrule looks and sound. But you can’t practice law until you have a job. For job interviews, Eddie’s percentages are spot on.
Three Basic Rules of Conduct for Job Interviews
The vast majority of law school grads won’t have a job lined up upon graduation. And other young attorneys only have a modicum of experience over the newbies. In fact, unless you have been practicing for five or more years, you have no valuable experience to offer an employer. Face it: You are borderline unemployable. So how do you convince someone to hire you? It’s easier than you think. First, accept that you are worthless. Second, follow my three basic interviewing rules:
- Look like an attorney. The person interviewing you actually knows what it means to be, to act like and to look like a lawyer (i.e., they are older than you). Shave. Change that stupid “hip” hairstyle. Take out your super cool unique earrings that some reality star is wearing on the cover of US Weekly. Don’t talk about US Weekly. Guys, do not wear tight, form-fit, European suits. Dress like a normal, humble American. You can express your own “individual” style once you actually practice law for five years.
- Stop talking. Just stop. Let the interviewer ask the questions. Remember, you know nothing. You have nothing to actually offer. You have yet to learn how to be a lawyer. The interviewer is not looking for a competitor, but rather for a student, a worker-bee, a yes-man—for someone to absorb the same legal abuse she sustained as a young attorney. In short, the interviewer typically doesn’t care what you are saying, but how. Answer confidently, directly and with absolutes.
- You can’t be experienced without getting experience. Take the interview as seriously as you took studying for the bar. You have to sell yourself. Study the firm’s website, research any cases the firm may be involved in, and don’t forget to check their social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).
If you look good and sound good, they won’t care too much about what you say, and they may just give you an offer.
I may not know what I’m talking about, but I think you understand.
William Melater is a young associate attorney working at a firm focused on commercial litigation and transactional work. A self-described legal hunter and gatherer, Bill has accumulated a plethora of legal certificates and diplomas—all of which have been appropriately framed and hung behind his desk. Bill has a distaste for emails, suspenders, fake tans, paralegals who cry, sea urchins and attorneys who repeat the phrase “this is my bottom-line offer.” When irked, Bill blogs about his experiences at Attorney at Work.
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