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A useful way to prepare for a job interview is to approach it the same way you would an oral argument. The reason is that a job interview and an oral argument are very similar in their material aspects. An interview, like an oral argument, is a discussion between the applicant (advocate) and the employer (court). It is, of course, not a meaningless conversation but rather a discussion leading to a decision in which the applicant is highly interested. The most important task of the applicant, therefore, is to put before the employer probative information that will lead the employer to reach a decision that is both sound and favorable to the applicant’s position. Regarding job interviews, keep this important fact in mind: you are representing the most important client you will ever have — yourself — and your client needs you to persuade the employer to reach a particular conclusion. The employer is going to reach a conclusion the same way you are trained to do using analytic reasoning in law school. First, (s)he is going to apply one or more job-related standards (i.e., rules) and second, (s)he evaluates the facts presented to determine whether the elements (i.e., the determinative facts) of each standard is met. If the standards are satisfied, (s)he concludes the applicant is a good candidate for hire; if they are not, the applicant receives a polite “don’t call us, we’ll call you.” With these principles in mind, it is clear what the applicant needs to do. First, much serious thought must be given to the standards the employer is going to apply. Second, the applicant must be able in the course of the interview to present facts, not merely opinions, beliefs, and wishes, that will persuade the interviewer that the applicant meets or exceeds the applicable standards. The interviewer uses the interview to ascertain whether the applicant will make a positive contribution to the success of the organization’s mission. In the legal workplace the interviewer is looking to make the following conclusions about the applicant: YOU CAN DO THE WORK The applicant possess the skills required to perform her duties well. The applicant can produce high-quality work under deadline with little or no supervision. YOU WILL DO THE WORK The applicant possess the motivation and professionalism to perform consistently at a high level. YOU CAN WORK WITH OTHERS and OTHERS WILL WANT TO WORK WITH YOU The applicant is dependable, responsible, considerate, temperate, cooperative. The applicant is a good listener and has excellent interpersonal skills. The applicant can lead when necessary and follow when required. YOU WILL BE A GOOD REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ORGANIZATION TO OTHERS The applicant can be trusted to represent the organization without fear of embarrassment or risk to the organization’s image of professional competence and service. Your objective as the interviewee is to place before the interviewer concrete information (i.e., facts) that will support the above conclusions. What facts should an applicant present during the interview? Use the facts that are most relevant to the issues involved, such as your past academic performance, your work experience, extracurricular activities, and your life history. You also need to ensure your resume and writing samples do not undermine your claimed professional competence, motivation, and attention to detail. An interview is not a press conference in which you answer a question and then wait for the next question to be asked. Rather, an interview is a dialogue in which you both answer and ask questions. Remember that the interviewer has a dual role: (1) (s)he must determine whether you are a good candidate for employment in the organization and (2) (s)he must be able to persuade you that the organization is an employer from which you would welcome an offer of employment. If you do not ask any relevant questions, you deprive her of the opportunity to extol the virtues of her organization and undermine your claimed ability to conduct a reasonable inquiry into the facts and law. In sum, prepare for an interview with the same professionalism and rigor required of your legal writing assignments: identify the issues, gather the relevant data, generate and evaluate solutions, make a decision, and act. In acting on your decision, make sure you have identified and understand the applicable standards and can marshal the facts needed to establish each element of the controlling standards. By the way, do not forget to wear your uniform. Gregory Berry is a professor at Howard University School of Law. From 1980 through 1984, he was a Senior Attorney-Advisor to the Director of the Office of Hearings and Appeals of the U.S. Department of Energy, and from 1984 to 1989, he was Senior Litigation Counsel for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Berry’s award-winning faculty Web siteis a wealth of useful information for law students.

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