Competitive Interviewing

in Career Resources

Making a good first impression …

Congratulations!  You have succeeded in securing an interview.  Be proud of that accomplishment as employers receive many resumes from candidates and are only able to interview a select few.  With a little preparation you will be successful at the interview process.  Listed here are a few of our favourite tips and suggestions:

Interview Tips …

  • Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer’s full name and the correct pronunciation, as well as his or her title.
  • Know your resume.  Memorize dates and you won’t get caught off-guard sounding confused about your employment history.
  • Do your research: learn pertinent facts about the company at which you are interviewing.  You should never ask questions during an interview that you should have been able to find out from the firm’s website or other research (e.g. how many offices do you have in Canada?)
  • Be able to explain how this opportunity will impact your immediate and long-term career development and tell the interviewer why you are a good candidate for this position.  What can you offer the firm?
  • An interview is a “two-way street”.  Know what questions to ask during the interview.  Your questions allow the hiring manager to evaluate your professional and personal needs.  Insightful questions help both of you to determine if your relationship will be mutually rewarding.  Lastly, the better you understand the opportunity, the more you will be able to communicate your interest in the position.
  • Look professional.  Always wear proper attire, be sure you’ve had a recent haircut, and greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and an enthusiastic smile.
  • Leave yourself enough time to get there comfortably, so you are not in a rush to be there on time.  Arrive 5-10 minutes before your interview time; not too early, never late!
  • Have a copy of your resume with you (just in case).
  • Maintain eye contact with your interviewer.  Listen attentively and show your interest!
  • Be Positive – In particular, avoid negative comments about past employers.
  • Never be the one to bring up salary at a first interview.
  • Listen and adapt.  Be sensitive to the style of the interviewer.  Pay attention to those details of dress, office furniture, and general decor which will afford helpful clues to assist you in tailoring your presentation.
  • Do not chew gum in an interview.  Chewing gum in an interview immediately casts doubt in the interviewer’s mind about a candidate’s judgment.
  • Remove facial piercings (unless the piercings are worn for religious reasons) and hide tattoos.  Many law firms are traditional with highly conservative dress codes.
  • Avoid smoking before an interview.  Perfume rarely masks the smell of smoke and it can be offensive or dangerous to those with allergies.
  • Contact the interviewer if you’ve been held up in traffic or if you’ve been suddenly kept late at work – don’t keep them guessing if you are coming.
  • Turn off your cell phone.
  • In closing, let them know you are excited about the position and find out what the next step is.
  • Last, but perhaps most important, be yourself;  everyone has the same goal – the “right match”.  And everyone understands it can be nerve-wracking to interview.  If you are feeling excessively nervous, let the interviewer know this.  You might even make a joke about it and that will give you a moment to feel more at ease.

Follow-Up …

Send a thank-you note as soon as possible after the interview.  Not only is this good business etiquette but when two equally good candidates are vying for one position, the hiring manager will quite likely select the one who has demonstrated courtesy and the drive to go above and beyond.