Interview with a Recruiter

In the current economic climate, jobs are scarce and competition is fierce. How does this change the game when you are interviewing? I asked Kathleen Pearson, Director of Professional Recruiting with Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, her thoughts on this subject, and here’s what she had to say.

Q: Landing the interview: what qualities are you looking for in potential job candidates? Has this changed since the economic downturn?

A: The economy and the current shift in the legal industry has definitely changed the employment landscape for potential candidates. Quite simply, there are more candidates on the market and fewer positions available. That said, candidates need to differentiate themselves as much as possible. If you are a litigator, don’t try to apply for "anything available." Write a cover letter that outlines either why you are a great litigator or (if you are just out of school) why you will be a great litigator. Also, include a writing sample to support your assertions.

Q: What if I don’t land a job right out of law school? How can I add value to my resume and get some benefit out of the downtime until things pick up?

A: Think outside the legal world. What industries do you see having a legal need right now and in the future? If you cannot find a job at a law firm, there are many positions closely tied to the legal field. By looking outside the legal world, you can get valuable business experience and begin building your network for the future. For example, the healthcare industry has many positions that work with contracts.

Q: What if I don’t land a job right away; how will this look to potential employers? How do I handle this in interviews?

A: All employers know the situation law students and young associates are facing is difficult. The best advice I can give is to be completely honest.

Cross-posted at the Young Lawyers Blog, at



One observation about the interviewing tips on Lets Talk Turkey: Tip #1 reminds interviewees to focus on their achievements, using "I" not "we" to describe work in former positions. In the explanation the example of a person making this mistake is - no surprise - female. I think this is pretty on the mark. I know I’m super guilty of failing to take credit and tend to use "we" to describe me all to often. I’m not the only one.

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