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Becoming a champion interviewee

I still have Ravens fever and I don’t want a cure. So I thought it was great when I stumbled across an article about “Why John Harbaugh would ace a job interview.”

John HarbaughThe article praises Harbaugh for his smarts, as well as a humble and cool demeanor that, the author claims, would help him navigate the interview, which I find to be the terrifying portion of the job-search process.

The author claims Harbaugh could land any interview and I can take this claim seriously. Not all interview(ing) articles are written with a field as competitive as the legal field in mind, but I think it’s safe to say that NFL head coaching positions are hard to come by.

I have always gotten fairly nervous on interviews; now, after changing jobs a few times and mostly because of the economy being what it is, I have felt even more pressure and nerves. With so few attorney positions available I think it’s easy to feel real pressure to stand out, be perfect and out-shine the other candidates interviewing.

Because there are so many candidates applying for each job, I feel that it’s an accomplishment just to get invited to an interview by an employer. I think it can be really tough to be yourself at the interviews because if it doesn’t go well for whatever reason, there’s not necessarily going to be another opportunity you can scoop up right away. There’s a lot riding on that conversation.

I think interviews can be especially tough for young attorneys because your ability to stand out is limited to an extent. Most young attorneys aren’t going to have work experience that sets them apart from the crowd. We’ve taken our classes, passed the bar and maybe have some work experience during law school or after college, but for the most part a lot of us look fairly similar. We know what we think we are interested in to the best of our ability but many of us aren’t going to be the right fit in our first job and there’s not much of a way to prevent that.

I do think pro bono work (if a possibility) is one way to stand out, as is showing your interest in certain types of law. I know there isn’t a magic answer here but I would love to hear thoughts from you readers. Does anyone have any tips for me and others out there about how to navigate the interview process? Any thoughts that you might have about how to make interviewing less nerve wracking or your experiences in general are very welcome


  1. Elliot D. Lasson, Ph.D


    Thank you for reading the article. I would say that the probability of success in an interview is maximized by preparation. How to prepare is somewhat situational, but here are a few things that are sort of universal:

    (1) Have a solid elevator speech rehearsed. Even of you do not have an opportunity to use it verbatim during the interview, it will get you thinking about your essence, including what your career goals are, what type of law in which you are interested, and what skills and experience you bring to the table.

    (2) Consider the three things that you want the employer to know about you and try to cover them over the course of the interview.

    (3) Bring in a pad of paper on which to jot notes, during the questions. That will keep you on point when nervous, especially for complex questions. The notes might also include some points whcih you will want to cover in your answer.

    These are just three basic practical tips, out of many others, to get you started.

    Good luck.

    Elliot D. Lasson, Ph.D.
    Executive Director
    Joblink of Maryland

  2. Hi Elliot thank you for commenting. I really liked your article and I agree with your points. John Harbaugh is great. I appreciate these tips too, #2 is good to keep in mind. Many times I feel very prepared for an interview going in but then end up just responding to the interviewers questions. If they don’t prompt me I don’t even end up bringing up all of the things I know and like about the employer or other qualifications I may have. I’ve never tried #3, I will have to do that. I have an interview coming up so I will get to put these tips to use.