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Spring interview time is coming, and with it comes a slight, but noticeable, uptick in legal hiring. After employers review the inevitable flood of resumes, they will want to talk to the candidates behind the paper. While a solid law firm interview can bring you closer to getting hired, a bad one will doom your chances.

Make sure you ace the interview.

Prepare for the law firm interview

Winging it during a law firm interview may sound like fun, but it is a dangerous interview strategy. Review the job posting, including the desired qualifications and job responsibilities. Try to find additional information about the employer and, if possible, the interviewer. Look over your application and be prepared to talk about anything you mention. Develop three or so questions that you can ask that demonstrate your interest and thoughtfulness. Also, if possible, try to do a mock interview with someone who can give you frank feedback.

During the interview, listen

Every question from interviewers is an important one. What do they want to know? What are they not asking you? Answer the questions you are asked, not the ones you wished you were asked. If you need time to respond, ask for a moment to compose your thoughts. Keep a mental checklist of things you want to make sure you mention. If there is time remaining, take a few moments to mention anything of importance that was not discussed.

Be professional throughout the interview

Although you want to create a connection with the interviewer, when in doubt, err on the side of formality. Try not to use slang and keep tabs on crutch words, such as “like”, that undermine your seriousness.  Also, remember to dress appropriately. Generally, regular professional dress (business suit) is safest.

Take full advantage of the opportunity to make your case in person. Law firm interviewing can be a fun and enlightening process if you approach it with a sense of possibility, as opposed to dread.