At the most basic level, interviews allow employers to learn more about your skills and experience than is evident from your resume. More importantly, interviews give employers the opportunity get to know you as an individual – often the critical factor in hiring decisions.
Be Confident, Enthusiastic, and Engaged
In the interview, you must present yourself in a confident, enthusiastic and engaged manner. Follow these simple rules:
- Make good eye contact and play an active role in the conversation
- Ask relevant questions and listen attentively
- Speak clearly and do not mumble
- Show enthusiasm about the employer and the attorney with whom you are interviewing
- Do not talk down about yourself; this displays a lack of self-confidence, which makes you look like a less appealing candidate
- Prepare in advance at least one or two specific questions to ask each interviewer
Anticipate Difficult Questions
Prepare responses to the most difficult questions you can expect (e.g., why is your Grade Point Average not on your resume?). Employers are frequently more interested in how you respond to such questions than they are in the responses themselves. The following strategies can help:
- Answer the question concisely and directly (you should have prepared and practiced responses to anticipated questions before the interview)
- Do not focus on negative areas by using your time to make excuses for past mistakes
- Use the question to move the conversation into more positive areas
- Do not rush. It is perfectly appropriate to take a moment to think about a question before answering
Consider Your First Impression
Make sure that you consider all aspects of a first impression. Be punctual, prepared, well groomed, professionally dressed and personable, and do not forget to give the interviewer(s) a firm handshake. Show up early so that you are relaxed. There is no second chance to make a first impression.
Practice Makes Perfect
As with many activities, practice is the most effective method for improving your interview skills. As indicated above, you should:
- Research and prepare responses to anticipated questions
- Write out your responses and practice saying them aloud in the mirror. Organizing information in your head is not sufficient
- Recruit a friend or colleague to act out a mock interview
- Participate in any mock interview programs available through Georgetown Law.
Please see the section on Drafting Effective Cover Letters and Post-Interview Correspondence in this manual for information on thank you letters.