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Mastering the Public Interest Interview

Mastering the Public Interest Interview

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Mastering the Public Interest Interview

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  1. Mastering the Public Interest Interview Lauren Kozak Terry Evans


  3. Before the Interview: RESEARCH • Research the organization! You should know the organization’s mission, areas of specialization, major accomplishments (will often put on their website), and current concerns. • Research your interviewers! Where did they go to school? How long have they been with the organization?

  4. Before the Interview: RESEARCH Organization Interviewer • Check the organization’s website • Talk to people who have prior experience with the office or organization (classmates, alumni, professors, clinical faculty) • Need to find someone who has interviewed/worked with the organization in the past? Contact OCP. • Run name of organization in Legal News Database of Westlaw • Organization’s website? • Google • Type name of interviewer in Attorney Profiler in Westlaw • Run attorney’s name in Legal news

  5. Before the Interview: SELF-ASSESSMENT • Conduct a self-assessment. Compare how your skills, accomplishments, values and interests match the position and the organization. • Brainstorm four or five points to communicate during the interview that will illustrate why you are committed to the office’s mission and why you will be an asset to the office. • Consider the type of questions you’ll receive and ponder the experiences you will use to answer the questions

  6. Before the Interview: PLAN • Bring extra copies of your resume, unofficial transcript, writing sample & references (even if they didn’t request them all) • Review directions and map for parking lot location and the Tyler Haynes Commons • Alternates • Keep checking email this week. It is possible that you will be moved up to an interview selection. • Want to practice your interview? Schedule a mock interview with OCP this week

  7. DAY OF THE INTERVIEW • Allow 3 hours door to door • J lot parking lot is for students – look for yellow signs • It is a LONG walk from parking lot to interview location (wear comfortable shoes) • Running late? Call 540-460-4839 (Terry’s cell) or 804-287-6695 (registration table) • Check-in at student registration table 30 minutes prior to first interview • Informational tables are on third floor • Snack Bar in the lounge area • If you have back-to-back interviews, don’t worry. Just go to the next interview as soon as you are done.

  8. What the set-up is like • Interview will be in a large room with curtained booths • When it is your interview time, stand behind interviewee to let interviewer know time is up

  9. The Interview BEFORE DURING AFTER

  10. The Interview: BODY LANGUAGE • Use your body language to convey personality, enthusiasm and self-confidence. • Greet the employer with a firm handshake. • Maintain comfortable eye contact with the interviewer, as well as good posture. • Use hand gestures and facial expressions as you normally would in a conversation with a friend, thus avoiding any nervous verbal and physical mannerisms that may distract the interviewer. But be professional—don’t slip into slang.

  11. The Interview: MOTIVATION • For most public interest employers, you must convey your motivation for wanting to work there. • If you have past work experience in an area related to the job you are seeking, highlight that experience. • If you do not, you must prepare to explain what motivated you to apply for the specific job. • Show enthusiasm - let them know you are interested in what they do.

  12. The Interview: WHY SHOULD I HIRE YOU? • Think about each question and why the employer is asking it. Every question is really, “Why should we hire you?”  So continue to answer that question in every question the employer asks. • Tell a Story: Draw from your accomplishments and experiences to speak enthusiastically. Every answer should highlight your skills and be backed up by a story.

  13. The Interview: GENERAL TIPS • Keep your answers short: between 15-30 seconds each. • Listen carefully - take time to reflect before answering questions. • Be honest and not evasive in answering direct questions. • The best interview is like a conversation—don’t subdue your personality and ask questions during it. • Know your resume! Also, be familiar with your writing sample/law review note/moot court argument.

  14. Why our office/organization? • Why did you go to law school? • To what other offices have you applied? • How committed are you to the cause of the office? • How much experience have you had with public interest organizations? • Why this city, town or area? • What would the greatest drawback of this job be for you? • What two or three things are most important to you in a job? • What constitutes “success” to you? • For public defenders: Is there any type of crime you would have trouble defending, like child molestation or rape? The Interview: SPECIFIC QUESTIONS Questions designed to see whether you have : motivation passion interest

  15. What can you bring to this organization? • What community service project do you believe allowed you to make the greatest impact and how? • Tell me about a difficult experience you had in clinic (or other work setting) and how you overcame it. • What would make you a good trial advocate? • How do you work under pressure? (give examples!) • How strong are your writing skills? • What qualities do you think a good lawyer should have? The Interview: SPECIFIC QUESTIONS Questions designed to see whether you possess the necessary skills for the job

  16. What was your favorite client’s name? (Hint: do not reveal as doing so would violate confidentiality.) • How would you go about building a trusting relationship with a client? • How would you counsel a young client who had never before been arrested and is proclaiming his innocence in the face of a serious crime based completely on the testimony of several police officers. That client is facing a long jail sentence should he be convicted after a jury trial but is now being offered a plea-bargained sentence of probation. “What do you say to your client?” The Interview: SPECIFIC QUESTIONS Hypothetical or ethical questions—interviewers are often more interested in how you think through the problem you are presented rather than in obtaining the "right" answer.

  17. What is the last book you read or movie you watched? • How do you spend your free time? • Who is your hero/heroine? • What five people would you invite to a dinner party? • If you were a tree what kind would you be? The Interview: SPECIFIC QUESTIONS Questions to get to know you. There is no right or wrong answer except no answer at all

  18. The Interview: GRADES Don’t Do • Don’t dwell on them if the employer doesn’t • Don’t blame the Professor • Don’t say that grades don’t mean anything—instead show the employer that you can do the work • Don’t pretend you don’t know what your grades are or give a vague response to the question of what are your grades • Address the question, but get to the positive quickly. You can admit that your grades are not what you had hoped, but continue with something positive, like work performance, awards, etc. • If your grades improved over time, point that out. • If your grades in relevant courses were high, mention those  • If you did work over your summer, use that experience as indicative of your legal ability. • Be comfortable with your grades, pull out the positives, and practice speaking with confidence about them.

  19. The Interview: YOUR QUESTIONS Good Questions Inappropriate Questions • Why did you choose this employer? • What do you wish you’d known before you got here? • When you go back to work/the office, what will you be working on? • What type of work will I be doing? • What qualities make someone successful in this office? • Salary • Hours • Asking vague or imponderable questions (i.e., what is the office’s culture) • Asking questions that could be answered by basic research

  20. The Interview: THINGS TO AVOID • Speaking negatively of anyone (former employer, fellow students, law school) • Anything that suggests you are unfamiliar with the organization’s mission • Being too casual—watch “umms” “like” or curse/slang words • Volunteering your flaws

  21. The Interview BEFORE DURING AFTER

  22. Directly After the Interview • Write down notes from your interview (to help you remember) • Send the Thank You letter • For this job fair, email is preferred– get business cards if possible • Terry will have the final interview list and emails at end of day • Thank them for their time. • Personalize the note by mentioning a discussion you had • Reiterate your interest in the position

  23. After the Interview: FOLLOW UP • Follow-up with Terry about the outcome of your participation • 37 students attending this year • Had many students get summer positions last year from the job fair

  24. After This Presentation • If you have not provided Terry with Cell phone, do so today • Terry Evans and Andrea Hilton will be the W&L representatives at the job fair • Pick up your student packet, which includes: • Interview schedule/Memo/Map of University of Richmond Campus/List of students attending to arrange carpools Where to pick up your packet: • Last Name Abbott--Hawkins Terry • Last Name Huhn--Pliskin Lauren • Last Name Pohn—Wieand Andrea