Tips for Informational Interviews

3221301604 70c55d65ce11 Tips for Informational InterviewsI just had my first informational interview as an attorney. By and large, the individual did a great job. That said, there are some things law students can do to make themselves stand out from the crowd. For what it is worth, here is my advice to law students:

For one, show up prepared. This person knew what type of law I practiced, and also took the time to read my bio. It is very helpful if you can actively engage in numerous points of conversation about both the practice area, and even the lawyer’s experiences. You do not need to be an expert in the area, but you should know something about it, or come prepared with some questions that make you look interested.

Two, know what you want from the interview. Do you want to know about the practice area? Do you want to inquire about law clerk opportunities? Do you want referrals? Are you looking for a mentor? If an attorney is willing to meet with you, they are probably willing to help you in some way. But they need to know how they can, and it is much easier if a law student can verbalize what they need help with.

Three, show your personality. You might not think this is a “real” interview, but it is. An attorney might not be able to help right now, but maybe they can down the road. If you can make yourself stand out (besides actually showing up), that will always work to your advantage.

Four, send a handwritten thank you card. This person sent a thank you email, which is a nice start. But sending a handwritten card is classier, and shows that you valued the time. In your note, try and think of something—conversation, joke, topic—that made your experience memorable. In other words, make your note personalized.

Doing informational interviews are always a good idea, but if you follow these steps, you can setup yourself up for opportunities in the future.

(photo: Alex France)

  • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

    Five, don’t call it an informational interview. Holy cow that sounds boring.

  • http://myshingle.com/ Carolyn Elefant

    Great post, except one thing: please don’t send me anything written. From thank you notes to cards, I rarely even open them – they go straight to the trash can. Yes, I know it’s the nicer thing to do but unless a written note is accompanied by a gift (which is over the top for an informational interview), I’m not likely to ever see it.

  • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

    I think Carolyn is in the extreme minority, here. The number of lawyers who actually ignore (or actively despise) paper is extremely small. For the vast majority of us—including in my paperless office—a handwritten thank-you note will always be appreciated more than an e-mail.

  • Gyi Tsakalakis

    While I personally hate paper too, we get a lot of positive feedback from Thank You’s. I’m with Sam here.

  • Randall Ryder

    Until I actually got a thank you card, I did not think it was a big deal. But when I got my first one, it felt much more personal, and it made a big difference.