Say less, let the interviewer ask more questions

J. Nick Augustine J.D. is the principal of ALR/PRA, Inc., a full service law practice management agency.  Nick advises and assists attorneys in transition in public relations and marketing.  Nick also shares recruiting and staffing experience and tips for legal job seekers.

Typical question:  Why are you here today?  Typical response:  “Well, I graduated from…and then I…and then I…” (you see where this goes).  Effective communication in the interview setting can be judged by the likelihood that the interviewer will not only remember you, but also like you.  Assume that the interviewer knows you meet the minimum job criteria or you wouldn’t be meeting.  The interview is your opportunity to express your personality and interest in making a commitment to the position.

Rambling on may distract the interviewer.  It may be really nice that you went to the same college or were in similar organizations; however, the niceties on the side do not highlight why you’re the best candidate for the position.  Instead of talking about the school in common, talk about what you learned there and why it made you a better lawyer.

How you answer questions may be indicative of how you interact at work.  Interviewers may have key positions at their firm and are tracking their billable time.  Getting right to the point first, shows people you can follow direction and produce a result.  If there is time to comment on the side and you keep it light, that is certainly ok.  Just try to keep to polite chit chat and not overwhelm your interviewer.

Let them ask you more questions.  By succinctly responding to your interviewer’s questions you may engage them to ask some follow up questions based on your discussion.  By asking them questions in return you may take the dialogue in new directions an interviewer may appreciate – I think we’ve all been told “That is a good question, and I’m glad you asked that…”  At the end of the conversation you should be the candidate who is qualified, competent, easy to talk to, and likeable.

Think of good follow-up questions – what you really want to know.  An astute candidate can tell when it’s appropriate to ask direct questions of an interviewer.  When responding to a very open-ended question, and if it naturally follows, volley a relevant question back to your interviewer.  If you have a burning question you want to ask and don’t want to be shy.  If the conversation has been friendly and your question seems appropriate (but the subject matter wasn’t covered in what you already discussed) then feel free to ask – these questions can cause the interviewer to remember you.

Have a closing statement prepared for your interview.  Remind the interviewer why you applied for the position.  It’s good to leave behind the impression that you are particularly interested in this specific offer, not just any position.  It is also helpful to identify your skills and identify where they are particularly complimentary to the job.


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