While many students stress over OCI interviews, the interviews themselves should cause no anxiety with brief preparation and enough confidence. By frontloading the hard part before the meeting itself, you minimize the opportunity for nerves to arise.
Plan possible responses
To prepare for the common question of what your strengths and weaknesses are, try bullet pointing them and thinking of a time when you showed strengths or overcame weakness. As a way to test whether your stories resonate well, try telling these short stories to a friend. If your friend knows you well, she might even remind you of a time that better captures your work ethic or persuasiveness.
It may also be useful to note out what courses you’ve liked and why, or how you applied what you learned in the classroom to a real-world problem. Reflecting on why you came to law school, and discussing what you hope to do once you graduate may show your long-term vision and your willingness to grow.
Even if you are not asked any of these questions directly, preparing these responses may provide colorful conversation points.
If you recently attended conferences or networking events, try to mention something you learned to confirms that your curiosity extends beyond the classroom. Naturally, if the event happened to be hosted or attended by the employer, mention something specific you learned or someone you met at the event who impacted you.
Even though I felt confident, scheduling a mock interview proved useful for many interviews. For example, I learned never to answer “no” when the interviewer taunts with the “do you have any questions?” closing, as responding with an intelligent question shows you’ve researched the employer.
Sneaky tip: If your law school’s career development office does not offer mock interviews, try your undergraduate school’s career center for a simulated interview and other resources.
Whether you just started law school or are a 3L, there’s nothing wrong with talking about prior work history or an undergraduate thesis project as these experiences can make you stand out among others with similar law school trajectories. For example, a classmate’s heart-warming story about how she helped a patient while working as nurse made her pitch memorable.
Yes, projecting your voice and standing straight may make you look and sound like a lawyer but confidence starts with believing in yourself. Remember: you’ve been cold-called and hot-seated and you overcame the beast of the LSAT. A conversation with an employer is just the celebration for your hard work.
And if you’re secretly nervous– don’t fret, “fake it till you make it” like social psychologist Amy Cuddy urges. In her eye-opening TED talk, she reveals how lifting your arms in a victory pose for a few minutes before your interview, can alert your brain to becoming confident. I tried it before my interview and it actually works!
While confidence radiates self-control, a little well-timed modesty can show your enthusiasm to grow and your ability to learn. Just as talking about your future goals demonstrates your motivation, mentioning your ability to make others’ jobs easier and more efficient can show you’re a team player who will fulfill the position more fully than someone preoccupied with deriving personal benefit.
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Other helpful law school posts:
- Podcast Episode 4: Call Backs for BigLaw Summer Positions
- Podcast Episode 3: Mastering the On Campus Interviewing Process (OCI)
- Getting a Job Without OCI
- Can You Get a Job Without OCI
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