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Being Prepared for a Firm Interview

by on June 22, 2010

The Careerist has been running doing a series of interviews with hiring partners at large law firms and getting some insight into what it takes to impress hiring managers.  One key point that came up was a candidate’s knowledge of the particular firm to which they are applying:

“In today’s spotlight is the indomitable Skadden Arps. Skadden hiring partner Steven Glaser made it clear that he expects job seekers to know something about Skadden before they sit down for an interview:

Skadden is a mega, hypercharged firm with a sweatshop reputation where the odds of making partner are almost nil. Why do people want to work at your firm? People desperately want good experience. I’m not sure that a very significant number of associates even want to be partners. I think the firm is good at fostering opportunities; it’s supportive if you eventually want to work for the government or a client.

Is there a Skadden persona? Confident, but not elitist. It’s not a stuffy place. People have good credentials here, but once you’re here, it doesn’t matter where you went to school or who you clerked for.

Any difference between this year’s crop of summer associates and past years? The class is 50 percent smaller than last year; there are 100 students overall. By going to a smaller number, we had the luxury of getting people who are really enthusiastic about being at Skadden.

Besides that rah-rah spirit, what else do you look for? The one thing I look for is someone who really wants to be a lawyer.

How can you tell? Do you give some kind of secret personality test? I ask why they really want to be a lawyer. You want someone with some spark and passion for lawyering. A lot of people end up at law school because they don’t know what else to do, and then they feel the work is beneath them. They want to write a novel or play the violin.

So firms should avoid the artsy-creative type? No, no. Some of those people work out quite well. [Skadden partner] Greg Milmoe was a pianist, and now he’s one of the leading restructuring lawyers.

Ever had a candidate who was great on paper but who blew the interview? Yes. The ones who were totally unprepared and knew nothing about Skadden. Someone asked us about our T&E practice, which we don’t have.”

Read the full interview

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