WHAT TO EXPECT DURING ARTICLING INTERVIEW WEEK
It’s a busy week, but the fact is that a little preparation goes a long way. Here are some of the tried-and-true strategies based on our own experience, from our current students who recently interviewed to those who sit on our student committee:
BEFORE INTERVIEW WEEK
Throughout law school, try to meet as many lawyers as possible to get a sense of each firm. Do your research: explore their websites, attend their presentations or lectures and so forth.
Be realistic about the type of firm you want to work at. The reality is that you do not have time to interview at every firm, of every size, and in every city. While it is good to cast a wide net and meet a lot of people, be practical at the same time.
There are legitimate reasons for interviewing in Edmonton and Calgary, or other places as well. However, before you get to Interview Week, we recommend that you get to the heart of why you’re interviewing so broadly. If the only reason for interviewing in more than one city is to increase the chances of getting an Articling position, we recommend that you narrow down your search. All firms want to know that you have chosen them for the long-term, and if you lack some kind of connection to the area, every firm will be concerned (rightly or wrongly) that you’re not committed.
Submit your applications in advance of each firm’s deadline. The sooner they receive your application, the sooner they’ll book your interview. If you wait until the last minute, your favourite firm may already be booked solid, or close to it.
When a lawyer or staff member contacts you to schedule an interview, remember that your interview starts with that phone call. The first impression you leave can mean a lot.
Try to schedule your first interviews on Monday or Tuesday of Interview Week, so you allow yourself time to attend second interviews during the end of the week.
Consider scheduling the firm you are least certain about first. While you should take the interview seriously, you can use it as a warm-up. Try not to schedule more than 4 – 5 interviews per day. It’s too much. You’ll be exhausted. When scheduling your interviews, ask the firms how long their interviews usually run. (Our interviews are about 45 minutes in length.) Keep in mind that most firms will invite you to tour the rest of the office with a current Articling Student or Junior Associate after your interview, so budget in this time when scheduling your subsequent interviews.
DURING INTERVIEW WEEK
After each interview, take a moment to jot down a few notes: Who did you meet? What was your impression? What made that firm different from the others? At the end of the day, sit down and review your notes to determine if your impressions justification have changed, and to consider whether any new questions or issues have come up that you may want to follow up on.
Follow up with the firms you liked. Don’t be shy about sending an email or making a phone call to someone you met. With that said, be sincere. We all know that not every firm is your first choice, so don’t tell us otherwise unless you mean it!
Some firms schedule interviews over the lunch hour. Sometimes it’s a matter of making full use of the day, and sometimes it’s a matter of wooing you. Regardless, keep your lunch hours flexible!
By the end of the week, if you are honest with yourself, there will be one firm that really stands out to you. We strongly encourage students to pick up the phone, and candidly tell that firm where you stand (even if it’s not us). We appreciate that it is a scary call to make. However, the reality is that given a handful of candidates that we would love to hire, our positions most often go to the students that we know feel the same.
We don’t recommend telling firms that you’re not interested (best to keep a few doors open, of course), but you will greatly improve the chances of making a mutually agreeable match if you are open and honest. Similarly, don’t tell more than one firm that they are your top pick. Not only do firms talk amongst themselves, but being dishonest is the wrong way to start your career.
Prior to Call Day, ensure that the firms you are most interested in know exactly how to reach you.
Stay calm. Sometimes the phone doesn’t ring at the designated time simply because there are more students than there are lawyers to make the calls.
If you do not receive an offer, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call firms (but perhaps not too soon after the designated time). If they’ve filled their positions, at least you’ll know. If they haven’t filled their positions yet, they may be very happy to hear that you’re interested.
What if your second choice of firms calls before your first choice? If you have been honest with firms from the beginning, it is most likely that your first choice will call first. (Keep in mind, it doesn’t matter how many offers you get. What matters is getting the right offer.) However, if your second choice calls first, don’t be afraid to ask for a few minutes to consider the offer (you have 24 hours), and use the time to call your first choice to determine if they’ve filled their positions.
With that said, try not to leave that other firm hanging because their second, third and fourth choices are all being snapped up by other firms with each passing second.