KMMF greatly appreciates the tips for successful on-campus interviews prepared by Ms. Esther Rodriguez, who was responsible for recruiting at Holland & Knight for 33 years before retiring in July, 2022
· Stick to one page – studies have found that you have the reviewers’ attention at most for 8 seconds, when challenged trying to find information, they move on.
· Show some connection to the city where you are applying.
· Resumes should be easy to read, clear, crisp, concise – education followed by work experience, skills, interests (important – they may build a connection with the interviewer).
· No typos, formatting should be consistent in your entries, use the past tense for past work experiences and the present tense to describe your current experience.
· Always show GPA – you can always explain in the cover letter.
· Everything on the resume is up for discussion, if you show reading as one of your interests, be prepared to discuss your writing sample, as well as the last book you read.
· Include minimum wage jobs, it shows initiative/drive.
· Include sports/coaching/club memberships, it shows you can collaborate.
· Make sure to have a professional message on your cell phone /email address.
· Personalize the email to the recruiting department – don’t call asking for contact information that is readily available.
· Do not include “proficient/certified in Westlaw/Lexis.”
· Do not include “references available upon request.”
· Do not send multiple emails indicating your desire to practice long term in each of the locations – they all end up in the same file and you lose credibility.
· Most firms will require a writing sample – be friendly to the reader, keep them to less than 10 pages and if the writing sample is an excerpt, give a brief explanation on a cover page – for context purposes.)
· Most importantly, be mindful of your digital footprint, attorneys thrive on research, and most will google your name.
Preparing for The Interview
· Consider which are the most important skills and experiences you would bring to the role.
· Take the time to research and learn about the firm, the attorneys, and their practice.
· Know why you are interested in the firm and be prepared to talk about your interests with the interviewer.
· Know your interviewer, you will find yourself much more relaxed if you know a little bit about the person across the table or screen. However, last minute substitutions can happen, you should not be alarmed if you have a different interviewer than anticipated.
· Know your resume, interviewers will review your resume beforehand, and everything listed is fair game.
· You should have 3-4 stories prepared about something you have done recently – during a summer, during a class, a legal issue you found interesting, or undergraduate work.
A few years ago, there was a survey done of more than 2,000 hiring managers; 33% claimed to know whether they would hire someone within the first 90 seconds. Lack of eye-contact and knowledge of the company most influenced their decision.
· Most interviews will be via Zoom, do not let your gaze wander, focus on the camera
· Turn off the cell phone – do not text while interviewing.
· Don’t wear anything that will distract the interviewers’ attention from the conversation.
· Be prepared with a 2-minute elevator pitch you can share with everyone that summarizes how you arrived at this point in your life.
· Authenticity – own who you are – do not give answers you “think” attorneys want to hear.
· Be prepared for behavioral interview questions which use concrete examples to identify the traits that lead to success in your career.
· Be prepared to address your grades. Be confident and address the issue head-on. Do not appear to want to avoid the subject, make excuses or blame something/someone else. Own it, acknowledge that the grade(s) to you are suboptimal and what you are doing to improve them – then segue into your other strengths, which come from different facets of your background and abilities. For example: transferable skills from previous jobs or leadership roles, strong writing and research skills, attention to detail, managing many deadlines at once, bring up specific examples to highlight these strengths. Interviewers will appreciate your demonstration of self-awareness and that you are working hard and learning from the experience.
· Be prepared to ask questions – showing interest in the firm — demonstrating genuine energy and enthusiasm and asking thoughtful questions (not questions that you should know the answer to from doing your own research such as “how many offices do you have?”).
· Be humble, even if you are #1 in the class – there is a fine line between tooting your own horn and selling yourself short – do not come across as arrogant.
· Writing – is one of the most IMPORTANT skills you bring to the table – no matter the practice group. Candidates who state they are excellent writers can be off-putting. However, candidates who understand that legal writing is not just a skill but a craft that they will be working and continuously honing for their entire careers – always get an edge. We are always impressed when a candidate asks for advice as to what they can do to improve their writing while in law school and beyond etc. All your written communications with a firm are viewed as writing samples, proof-read everything you write TWICE.
Now that we are socially gathering again, a few reminders of the proper etiquette at the table.
· Your bread plate is always to the left and your drink glass is always to the right of your plate – if you need a reminder, you can only form the letter “b” with the thumb and index fingers on your left hand and the letter “d” with your right hand.
· When seating in front of the breadbasket at a dinner, you should offer to the person to your left, put some on your bread plate, and then pass it to your right – any food item is always passed counterclockwise
· If it’s a small group at the table – 8 or less, you should wait until everyone is served before you start eating, for groups of more than 8, you don’t have to wait for everyone to be served to start
When attending an event requiring a name badge, always wear your name badge on your right side. When shaking hands, it is easier to read as people focus on your right side, not your left.
Make sure your equipment is working correctly, test your connection and schedule a practice run with a friend or family member before interviewing to ensure your audio and video quality is adequate.
· Be sure to tidy up the space that will be seen on camera, especially if a virtual background is not an option.
· The best lighting setup is natural light coming from in front of you – make sure your face is not partially obscured by shadows or backlighting.
· Placing the camera at or slightly above your eye level will feel most natural to viewers and make you look your best. The ideal shot will include your head and shoulders and a couple of inches above your head.
· Keeping your eyes on the camera will make eye contact with your audience. Try putting a post-it with a smiley face, a picture of your pet, or something fun, near the camera to remind you to look up.
· Control what you can control. We understand that remote work conditions can be less than ideal – if a dog barks or a kid/parent walks behind you on screen, that’s life these days. No one will judge you because of it.