Susan Smith Blakely

How to Seal the Deal After an Interview

In my last blog, I gave you some tips on interviewing for internships, clerkships and other law jobs.  I also encouraged you to use the career services offices at your law schools to help you prepare for interviews.  I hope you all ran to your computers and immediately signed up for a session with career services staff.  Good for you!  I love it when you actually listen.

I emphasized the importance of making a good first impression in that last blog, and now it is time to talk about how to conclude the interview and leave a good and lasting impression, which you hope will lead to a job offer.  That most often will be dictated by what you learned during the interview.

If you kept an open mind during the interview and really listened to what the interviewer had to say about the firm and the practice, you should know by the end of the interview whether the job interests you.  If what you have heard makes you want the job, say so.  This is the time to tell the interviewer what particularly impresses you about the firm and why you think that you could fit in well there.  You may want to talk about some skill that you have, which you think would be especially valuable to the law firm, or what area of the practice particularly interests you and why.  Do not be arrogant, but also do not be shy.  This is your time.  Use it to your advantage.

And, after you have killed the interview, do not forget to send a thank you note.  There is some disagreement about whether e-mail suffices for this purpose or whether a handwritten note is necessary, and I do not think there is any hard and fast rule.  Instead, I recommend that you take your cue from the description of the interviewer.  If the interviewer is a particularly sophisticated and well-dressed woman, I would opt for the hand-written note because I think that is what she might send in a similar circumstance.  However, if the interviewer is a man with a casual demeanor and sports memorabilia all over his office, I would be secure in sending an e-mail. Carrier pigeons are out!

No matter how you send the thank you note, consider it very important and take care with the content.  Tailor it to something that was discussed during the interview or something that the interviewer revealed about himself or herself.  In other words, personalize it.  Nothing cutesie, however.  This is not the time to send jokes or other "entertaining" references.  You want to be remembered for your most personable and professional self.

Good luck!  Interviewing is tedious, but it also is a great opportunity.  Take advantage of interviews that you are excited about and also those that you don't think interest you as much.  Get the most interviewing experience possible to prepare you for the one you really want. 

When that time comes, you will be ready!


Susan Smith Blakely is the Founder of LegalPerspectives LLC and a nationally-recognized author, speaker and consultant on issues related to young women lawyers, young women law students and young women interested in careers in the law.  She is author of Best Friends at the Bar:  What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers 2009), and Best Friends at the Bar:  The New Balance for Today's Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business 2012), which addresses the work-life struggle for women lawyers and includes twelve profiles of women who have successfully transitioned from one practice setting to another.  Ms. Blakely frequently speaks at colleges and universities, law schools, law firms and law organizations, and she has been featured in media including the LA Daily Journal, National Jurist, Washington Examiner Newspaper, Forbes Woman, DC Spotlight, Daily Muse and Huffington Post Business.  Ms. Blakely also is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at conferences on women's issues and the law profession.

Ms. Blakely graduated from the University of Wisconsin with distinction and from Georgetown University Law Center where she taught legal research and writing. She also is a Marshall Goldsmith trained career and leadership coach and a member of the CoachSource global network of leadership coaches.  She also is a career coach for the Indiana University Marshall Goldsmith Leadership Development and Executive Coaching Academy.   For more information, please visit www.bestfriendsatthebar.com. 

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