3 things you should be doing RIGHT NOW to be ready for on campus interviews/early interview programs

Tags: networking articles

If you’ve taken our advice so far, you would’ve already started to do research, line up practice interviews, and solidifying your law firm knowledge-base. You should already be relatively familiar with the law firm pecking order, the eco-system, and the hiring food chain (screener, hiring committee decision to call back, call back, hiring committee review of interviewer notes, decision).

But regardless of what you have or haven’t done, here’s what you need to be doing, or starting to do RIGHT NOW:

1. Cash in on your networking contacts (and if you’ve none, make them).

If you’ve taken the time to network with partners at firms before law school or during 1L, now’s the time to cash in.  This is obvious, what have you networked for other than to cash those contacts in for a job now? But how to cash in?

The best outcome from cashing in on a networking contact is if that person simply scribbles you in for an interview without you having to waste a bid, or even better, pass your on to the hiring committee or human resources for a direct call back. You might think this never happens, but if you are an appealing candidate (and that depends on what firms/markets you are targeting), firms are increasingly more willing to go outside of the traditional hiring cycle to snatch you from their competitors.  Remember, a law firm’s human capital is its most important resource, the source of its reputation, and sole profit generator.  With the law firm hiring market so constrained and law firms themselves  under increasing price and cost pressure, they are trying more and more to save themselves money by getting suitable candidates through guerrilla tactics rather than compete in the same OCI pools against their (from the outside) nearly indistinguishable peers.

This has been borne out by our experience. At our V20, we have seen candidates being invited for interviews as early as late July.  How are the firms finding these candidates?  They didn’t, these candidates networked.  They have either gotten in touch with a partner and impressed them through their drive, native intelligence, and curiosity, or they have made friends with people during law school who ended up at firms, kept in touch, and were referred (had their resume and transcript sent to HR) prior to OCI even starting.

Our firm even sends out an e-mail every year to associates, asking junior associates to refer friends or acquaintances at our schools who are coming up to their 1L summer OCIs. (While there are rules at certain schools about soliciting students outside of on campus interviews, these are only in force at a few schools.) Associates frequently refer individuals they consider to be suitable candidates.

If you can’t score an interview off the networking process right off the bat, you should at least be using the contacts to learn more about the firm. Ask the partner or associate to sit down for coffee again, give you mock interview, anything to reinforce the connection.  By the end of the coffee or mock, you will either have gained invaluable information about the firm and its practice and firms generally, gotten practice interviewing, or scored an OCI spot or even better, a call-back, all without even entering the bidding process.

Didn’t network at all? Not too late. Find graduates of your school at whatever firms you want to target, hustle them, reach out (you have great excuses you can use: interview season coming up, tell me a little about your firm and work), NOW.  

2. OCI bidding strategy.

All of the above is meant to get you a job earlier, but it is also meant to position yourself for OCI. You need to have a bidding strategy, to have set out your targets, reaches, and safeties, and to have a full knowledge of which of these firms are coming to your school and how many slots they intend to offer for interviews.  For more information read up on this OCI bidding strategy post of ours.

3. Get the basics down.

Memorize your resume.  Don’t forget the little details, people WILL ask you about them. If you say in the interests section that you are interested in military history, anticipate questions that may come as a result of that interest. (What is your favorite battle in history?)

Wear that suit! Get comfortable in it, good suits and shoes take time to pick out, make, and wear in. Don’t wait till the last week.

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