At this year's LLSN Careers Breakfast, lawyer Billy Gialamas shared some insight into how he prepares for a job interview. Billy has kindly shared his 6 Quick Tips below. Whether it be for upcoming clerkship interviews or future endeavours, we hope that these pragmatic tips will help to calm those interview nerves and let you showcase the best that you have to offer.
So you have submitted the application and you now have been asked to attend an interview. After all those hours sweating over your application, it is now time for you to prepare for the interview - that opportunity to finally show that law firm of your dreams what you are made of. No doubt, you are feeling nervous but that is normal. Here are some tips for helping you get through the interview.
1. Research research research – Make sure you research the law firm you are applying for. Look on the firm’s website, look for recent articles and if you happen to know someone who works at the firm, take them out for coffee and ask them some questions. Go into your interview armed with some recent transactions that the firm has been involved in as this will show your interviewers you have an interest in the firm. Law firms know that clerks will normally apply for more than one law firm so make sure you don’t get the name of the firm wrong or the transactions that the firm is involved in. And, more importantly, try and remember the values that the law firm has and align your responses to these.
2. If you know who is interviewing you, make sure you find out a little bit about them – Research the practice area he or she is practising in or better yet have a look at their profile on LinkedIn. If you are fortunate enough to pick your interviewer, pick someone that aligns with your interests as this will make for a far more interesting and memorable conversation.
3. Think about what makes you stand out – Law firms know how competitive the process is. What law firms want to know is what differentiates YOU from all the other wonderful law students seeking a clerkship. Before every interview, I would think about the top three things I wanted to communicate before an interview to show the diversity of my skills. I wanted to make sure that I demonstrated academic ability with work experience. If you have legal experience, mention this. If you have gone to an event at the firm, talk about the event. If there is something unique that you are involved in socially, mention this. Your interviewers are human too and uniqueness goes a long way.
4. Show them you are also willing to learn – Don’t pretend that you know everything – you don’t. As clerks, you are not expected to solve world peace. Law firms want to know whether they can work with you. You need to demonstrate to them you have the basic blocks (that is the ability to articulate and help in solving difficult legal problems which is typically demonstrated by good grades) but more importantly they also want to see that you are eager to learn and willing to help. I recall when I was interviewed by a partner, I was asked how I would deal with a particular situation. When she said to me that she would do a few things differently to the way I had suggested, I responded “well, isn’t that the point of becoming a graduate so that I can learn off people like you so that I can master how to do things better”. Being humble can go a long way.
5. Be prepared to ask them questions – This is your way of demonstrating an interest in the presenter and the firm so be prepared to ask questions.
6. Read your application – Make sure you print out the application you submitted and read over it, especially if you were asked to answer questions. Interviewers are likely to refer to your application so it is important that you familiarise yourself with what you wrote (especially if there is something unique in your application).
Now that you are armed with some tips, remember to smile and just go with the flow. Good luck to all on the journey that lies ahead.
- Billy Gialamas is a lawyer with experience across both private and public sectors