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Back to school time is a good excuse to brush up on your interviewing skills. Every year it's important to put your best foot forward, but in this year's economy, it's especially true. Here are a few tips.

5 Tips for Successful Interviewing

By Eric Rice

Seeing the back-to-school displays at Target and Facebook statuses about fantasy football can only mean one thing: fall is approaching, and with it, interview season at law schools around the country.  Every year it’s important to put your best foot forward, but in this year’s economy, it’s especially true.  So, let’s get ready with these tips:

1.  Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes

Make sure you remember that the main purpose of interviewing is not to indulge yourself — it’s to impress your interviewer and convince them that you’re the best candidate for the job.  So, put yourself in their position and ask yourself what they’re looking for.  By understanding what the interviewer is looking for, you can get an edge on candidates who only focus on themselves.

2.  Do your homework

Whether as a matter of respect, interest, or strategy, you should do some research on the firm and interviewer you’ll be meeting with.  Reading through the website bios and having a basic familiarity will show that you care enough about the position to do some work beforehand.  Go the extra mile and connect with current associates ahead of time by taking them out for coffee or doing an informational interview (see this post) over the phone.  Not only will it give you a chance to ask intelligent questions about the firm, allowing you to learn more and demonstrate why you’re the right fit for them, but you’ll have a far better picture of what your life will look like in two, three, or five more years.

3.  Be yourself

It’s important to be honest and sincere in your interview.  Hopefully, you chose to apply for positions that match your interests and personality.  Let that enthusiasm out in the interview.  A stiff candidate will be very forgettable, while an honest and enthusiastic candidate will be a breath of fresh air.  Don’t be unremarkable, be yourself.

4.  Take interest in your interviewer

Interviewing is not just about speaking, but about listening.  Be engaged and listen to what the interviewer tells you about the position.  If the opportunity arises, ask the interviewer about their experiences at the firm.  It’s a good chance to get a personal viewpoint of the firm, and let the interviewer know that you are serious about the job.

5. Relax

Do your best to be calm and cool.  If you’ve prepared (see point #2), you’ll get across the points you need to.  Stress can make things uncomfortable and prevent your personality from coming through.  Interviewing is a two-way process: you have to be right for the job, and the job has to be right for you.  If things don’t go smoothly, perhaps it’s a sign that the job wouldn’t be a good fit, and it’s probably best that you are able to find something else.  Even in this market, if you work hard and stay positive, you’ll find a good position for you.

I encourage you to leave comments with your own thoughts.  What does or doesn’t work for you?  Anything else you would suggest?  Let us know!

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