You get the call from your recruiter that a law firm wants to bring you in for an interview. If your recruiter is doing his/her job, you will be provided with the names of the attorneys you will be meeting with, their biographical information and any insight, both professionally and personally that can aide in connecting with the people across the table.
Furthermore, the recruiter should be preparing you for the session by raising questions to anticipate and to discuss how to respond effectively to each question. There is a great misconception that the interviewee, must answer substantive questions with the precise legal response. Knowing the correct answer is obviously preferred, however, not knowing the exact answer is not necessarily disqualifying. As with the practice of law, where attorneys do not necessarily know the answer to clients’ questions on the spot, the same is true on an interview. The one thing that you want to avoid is to struggle and give the wrong answer.
However, if you are posed a difficult substantive legal question, and you don’t know the answer, “I don’t know,” is a perfectly good answer. However, you must follow it up with, “these are the steps I would take to find the answer.” This practice will serve you well in that it demonstrates to the interviewer that you are thoughtful and deliberative and not quick to make reckless decisions by throwing out an answer that may be wrong. It also highlights the candidate’s ability to be organized and methodical by illustrating each step of the process needed to solve a given problem.
In general, when on an interview, stay calm, maintain good eye contact, confident body language and bring a positive energy to the meeting. Avoid staring down, looking at your phone and not answering the question that is asked.
David B. Sarnoff, Esq. is a legal recruiter and Principal of his search firm, Sarnoff Group LLC. He has over eighteen (18) years of experience as a recruiter and career counselor. He has placed partners, counsels, associates and groups into law firms. He has also placed attorneys into companies and hedge funds in many cities. He has been a frequent presenter to various Bar Associations on recruiting, marketing and branding for attorneys. Feel free to contact David for a confidential conversation at 646.665.4899 or [email protected] David also practiced at a New York law firm in the areas of complex commercial litigation and white collar defense. He is a member of the Board of Education in Fort Lee, NJ and currently serves as the Board President.