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All interviewers have two basic questions for lawyers and law students: Why are you interested in us and why should we hire you? The first question is relatively easy to answer, if you’ve done your research. But the second one calls for knowing yourself, your values, your interests, your skills and your blind spots. We lawyers have historically been reluctant to engage in self-assessment. As analytical problem solvers, the whole notion of self-assessment seems too touchy-feely for many of us. We’re much more comfortable talking about what we’ve done than who we are. But that’s a mistake if you want to answer that second interview question with confidence and maturity. Employers are seeking candidates who “know themselves.” Several psychological tools are available to assist with self-assessment, and the process need not be extended or particularly painful. One of the best known of such tools, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), for example, can help you to discover aspects of your personality that may come as a surprise. Briefly, the MBTI categorizes you according to a series of questions dealing with where you get your energy (from the outside world or from within), whether you are a detail-oriented or a big-picture person, whether you make decisions based on the head or the heart, and whether you enjoy a more planned or more spontaneous life. The MBTI has implications both for law school performance and job searching. An academic counselor, who knows that according to the MBTI you lead with your heart rather than your head (a “feeler”), could explain that you may have a tougher time adjusting to law school than an objective thinker. A group of extroverts forming a study group could be advised that that they may have a hard time getting anything done. Faculty members privy to MBTI results could adjust teaching styles to students’ learning styles or at least vary how they present information. For students embarking upon their career paths or lawyers ready to throw in the towel half way down the road, I would use self-assessment tools to advise introverts that they might be comfortable in environments where they can work at their computers undisturbed. Extroverts, on the other hand, might need to be in the courtroom. Those who love details likely would readily grapple with complicated legalese in an environment that demanded precision. But a feeler might need to feel much more passion about work and be happiest working in public interest. Spontaneous types, no matter where they work, will have to learn to live within a schedule. Lawyers can be found in all MBTI types, and the world (and the legal profession) needs all types. Rather than suggesting specific practice areas, the MBTI provides insight into what types of personalities will be happiest in different work settings. Richard Bolles’ What Color Is Your Parachute? and Deborah Arron’s What Can You Do With a Law Degree? also contain self-assessment tools that ask us to take a few minutes to focus on ourselves and figure out who we really are. What are our values? How do we rank money, prestige and knowledge? Students or lawyers who are highly entrepreneurial may not be happy in a large law firm until they have reached partnership. Feelers, who put a premium on harmony, may not be best suited for litigation, unless their passion for the plaintiffs outweighs their unease with opposing counsel’s tactics. For law school graduates, having second thoughts about what type of practice would make them happy, these self-assessments should be the starting point. Too often alumni seeking my advice ask what’s “hot” in terms of practice areas-as if their own interests and skills didn’t matter. Why are they wishing to switch jobs or careers? What did they like about their previous/current job? What are they looking for and why? Good career counselors will begin with these questions rather than going right to resume review. Job-seekers who have taken the extra time to assess their achievements, skills and interests are most likely to be successful in their interviews and, most importantly, choose career paths they will enjoy. William A. Chamberlain is assistant dean, Law Career Strategy and Advancement, Northwestern University School of Law.

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