Amy Wegner Kho

A Life Outside Law School—The Secret to OCI

Right now hundreds of first-year law students around the country are preparing for the dreaded OCI (on campus interview) which is the first step to coveted summer associate positions, and ultimately the finish line of landing a job at the big law firm downtown. The secret of surviving the OCI process? Just Be Prepared.

Law students have the summer between their first and second year of law school to write dozens of cover letters, hone and revise their writing samples, and format their resumes before applying to dozens of law firms. The goal is to get an actual interview on campus during the first few weeks of the fall semester. If all goes well, that interview might lead to a second interview at the firm’s office, and if that goes well, perhaps a third interview before a lucrative summer associate position offer is made. The dream of most of these OCI applicants is that the summer position will end just before the 3rd year of law school with a thank you and an offer to return to the firm for a full time position after the law student graduates and passes the bar.

As an evening student, I had two opportunities to apply for OCI, but only took one. While I wasn't sure that big law firms were the right fit for me, I felt that this would be an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up.  Yet, because I wasn’t in the top 10% of the class I didn’t think I’d get any interviews.

I was right. I applied to about 20 firms and didn’t get one follow up interview for August. But then, in early September, I finally received a callback for an on campus interview.

Ecstatic does not adequately describe how I felt.

The interview went as well as I could imagine it going, and then after weeks of hearing nothing, the firm asked me to come in for a second interview at their downtown office. I met the entire group of associates as I sat at the conference table in front of beautiful view of the Colorado mountains as two or three associates and partners filtered in and out of the conference room to take turns asking me questions. For two hours I collected business cards and answered dozens of questions, some of them over and over, as the associates drifted in and out.  At the end of the interview I felt pretty confident, and had fallen in love with the law firm. This would be my first job out of law school, I knew it!

A month later I received a letter comprised of only two sentences which thanked me for my time and informed me that the firm went a different direction.

While I was crushed to be dismissed so coldly, I felt confident in the fact that I did everything I could to prepare for the OCI process. Now, almost six months later, I’m very grateful that I went through that process of OCI, because I feel like I can interview better, I’m prepared for curveball questions, and I feel more confident in myself.

So I encourage you, future OCI applicants, be prepared to answer all of these questions (while you're sweating nervously in a small room, while dressed in an incredibly hot and uncomfortable 3 piece suit).

Personal (Attitudes, Attributes)

How would you describe yourself?
Why do you think you will succeed as a lawyer?
Why should we hire you?
Is there any reason why we shouldn’t hire you?
What is the greatest obstacle you’ve faced in your life?
What did you learn from dealing with this obstacle?
When are you available to begin working?
What do you consider your greatest strengths?
What are your limitations?
Use three words to describe yourself.
What are you looking for in a firm/corporation/nonprofit?
Do you prefer to work independently or with supervision?
Do you work well under pressure?
Describe a situation that required a number of things to be done at the same time. How did you handle it? What was the result?
How do you determine priorities in scheduling your time? Give examples?
What has been your experience in giving presentation? What has been your most successful experience in speech making?
What do you like to do for fun?
How do you maintain a well-rounded life?
What community or extra-curricular activities have you found rewarding?
Why should we select you for this position over the other applicants?
Are you more energized by working with data or by collaborating with others?
Describe a time when you had to use your written communication skills to get an important point across to someone.
Give me an example of one of your successful accomplishments.
Do you have the qualifications and personal characteristic necessary for success as a lawyer?
What has been your most rewarding accomplishment?
What quality or attribute will most contribute to your career success?
What motivates you to put forth your best effort?
Give me an example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
Describe a situation where you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
Describe a situation when you had to think on your feet to extricate yourself from a difficult situation.
Describe how you feel and how you react when others pressure you for deadlines.
Describe how you feel about taking direction from others and having them monitor your work.
Describe the ideal way to change a situation not to your liking.
Tell me about a time you solved a problem in a creative way.

For more OCI questions every law student should be able to answer, click here.

Good luck with your prep for OCI, and remember, what doesn't kill you will just make you stronger!

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