Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm Back -- Reports from the Trenches

Hello Readers:

As you can see from the delays in posts, Hiring Partner has been busy with...well, hiring.  The on campus interview season is in full swing and some call backs have started in certain firms.  I'm happy to report that the candidates I have seen have come to the interviews prepared, enthusiastic, and generally acting normal.  You might be wondering what sets people apart when we see many people in an on campus interview day, or call back interviewees over the next several weeks. 

Of course, grades, and journals, moot court, etc matter.  That is how we screen in or out at first impression.  If you don't make the cut off, I may still give you an interview if you have a particular background that matches a practice area where we have a hiring need.  After that, when we meet, I am judging on your maturity, judgment (best I can tell in the short time we have together), interest in firm/office, conversational skills.  Each HP is different.  I look for someone who looks me in the eye, speaks clearly and intelligently about their work experience and interest in the city/firm/office, and seems like a go getter.  I also consider if this is someone that I could take with me to a client's office tomorrow.  If I have to train you how to act professionally and normally, I am passing.   Maybe some other firm is willing to take you, put you in the library for two years, and then think about bringing you out. But that is not how any of the firms I have worked at viewed recruiting.  I want someone who could be sent out to a client as a first year associate and not embarrass us.  Yes, I did meet clients as a first year associate (at a very large firm, no less).  

Dos:

-- read up on the firm and in particular the office in which you are interested.  Most of us on the other side of the table notice when you bring up a case, transaction, etc that someone in our office handled, or a review from one of the major sources (e.g., Chambers, Vault).  It shows you did some homework.  I know I mentioned this before, but it is really important.

-- treat lunch in a call back just like the rest of the day.  It is still an interview. In fact, I pay particular attention to the comments of the lunch partners you had because they spent more time with you and in a different setting.

-- don't be too cocky. Even if you are top 10 at your school and you think you can reach higher than the firm you are talking to, don't appear aloof or cocky.  It is always better to have more options, especially in this type of economy.  

-- if your resume says you worked at X, be prepared that we may check references if we are serious about you. Remember, we know people at many places, you would be surprised, and we can easily pick up the phone and made an inquiry. 

A few quick don'ts from my and my friends' recent experiences:

-- no loose slang.  "That sucked," "The professor screwed me on that grade."  You get dinged for that in many books.  We are not so shocked by the language but it goes to judgment and maturity.  We have clients from all walks of life.  Many of them would not want to hear that in the workplace.

-- keep giggling to a minimum.  My former colleague saw a well qualified candidate, but she kept giggling (nervous?) and did not seem focused on areas of practices, thoughts about particular offices, etc.  Someone with grades significantly lower than the giggler got the call back. 

-- don't treat the recruiting coordinators like crap.  Be respectful when you call and email.  They actually will report back to us when someone seems great, or like a jerk.  We factor this in.  


I know you folks have asked several questions and I will be answering them shortly.  Thanks for your patience.  

1 comment:

E. said...

This may have been asked already, but could you say something about the differences between on-campus screening interviews and callback interviews?

So far from the questions I've been asked I have the impression that the two are not very different (except for the fact that callback interviews are longer and involve more people), but is there a difference in what the interviewers are looking for? I've heard that skills and qualifications (e.g. grades) do not matter much anymore beyond the screening interview, but some callback interviewers have looked at my transcript and asked questions about it. (At other firms, they didn't even seem to have it.) Any rhyme or reason?