Job Interview Dos and Don'ts

Published: May 02, 2016

 Interviewing       Law       

There's a ton of good advice out there about job interviews, but when push comes to shove, here are a quick 20 things you should do, and 12 things you shouldn't to make sure you nail your next interview.


  1. Conduct extensive research about the employer and the interviewers (if possible) before the interview.
  2. Practice your answers to difficult questions.
  3. Be prepared to describe specific examples from past work experiences, as well as what you learned from them.
  4. Dress conservatively and professionally; it’s hard to go wrong with black, navy, or gray.
  5. Arrive 5 to 10 minutes early for the interview.
  6. Bring at least three copies of your résumé, writing samples, transcript, and references.
  7. Be focused, energetic, enthusiastic, and motivated, but also relaxed.
  8. Make good eye contact.
  9. Be honest about your qualifications.
  10. Demonstrate that you’ve done research on the eployer.
  11. Answer the interviewer’s questions. Never try to brush off something that the interviewer seems interested in.
  12. Have good body language.
  13. Ask informed questions.
  14. Listen closely to what the interviewers have to say about the employer, your potential job duties, and other topics.
  15. Express your interest in the job.
  16. Remember to market yourself during the interview by using concrete examples of how you have succeeded in the past and how you can be an asset to the employer if you are hired.
  17. Ask for business cards from each interviewer.
  18. Inquire about the next steps in the hiring process at the conclusion of the interview.
  19. Immediately affirm your interest if offered a job, and ask for a date by which you are expected to respond.
  20. Send a thank-you note immediately after the interview.


  1. Be late.
  2. Schedule any other appointments on the day of the interview; you never know how long the interview will last.
  3. Chew gum or eat candy or breath mints, etc., during the interview.
  4. Give long-winded answers to questions, or ramble.
  5. Wear perfume, cologne, or any strong scent.
  6. Ask questions that reveal your ignorance of basic facts about the employer.
  7. Respond to questions with one- or two-word answers.
  8. Criticize past or current employers.
  9. Take too many notes that cause you to break eye contact for more than a few seconds per note.
  10. Discuss salary or benefits until you receive a job offer.
  11. Give a business card; the interviewer has your résumé.
  12. Order the most expensive item on the menu, order anything messy, or consume any alcohol, at a lunch interview.

The above was adapted from the Vault Guide to Law.

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Read More:
22 Interview Questions the Top Law Firms Ask
Interviewees Must Ask Good Questions Too!
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You did it! You’re a lawyer, and you’ve got a job! Whether you have your own office or a cube, you hopefully have at least one drawer for your personal belongings. Assuming that your place of employment has been kind enough to supply you with office supplies (not necessarily a given, but most legal jobs are at least good for some pens and paper), here are a few suggestions of items to fill that special drawer and make your life slightly more tolerable:

• Advil (or other painkiller of your choice). Useful for: hangovers, caffeine headaches, and that strange throbbing in your brain that comes as a consequence of not sleeping for two straight days.

• Kleenex. There will be tears. Have something to catch them with.

• Phone charger. Sometimes your phone is the only thing really connecting you with people on the outside, especially if your office has gone the newly prevalent route of cutting off access to Gmail and Gchat from your work computer. You don’t want it to die on you, and your meager social life with it.

• Hand sanitizer. Shared spaces are disgusting and you need to keep those hands clean. Especially considering how often you will likely be facepalming.

• Lysol wipes. Similarly, you might want to wipe your desk down from time to time, especially if you eat at it, and you will eat at your desk. If you don’t believe me, try shaking your keyboard upside down some time. You’ll find food particles from sandwiches you had long forgotten.

• Pepto bismol/Tums. You’ll think about ordering a salad, but when you’re ordering dinner at 9:30 and your night at the office is just beginning, you’ll probably order a Styrofoam box full of heartburn instead.

• Deodorant. Both in case you forget, and because you may from time to time be held prisoner at your desk for days on end.

• Foot deodorizer. Feet can get super stinky, especially in the summer (and especially if you don’t wear socks with your shoes, because you are a woman or a man with no regard for the nostrils of others).

• Lip balm or chapstick. Office environments are often dry as a bone, especially during the winter when the heat is running all the time - and chapped lips never look professional. Nor does the “freshly bitten” look.

• Safety pins. Wardrobe malfunctions can and do happen!