So you’ve gotten the call, you’ve killed your initial interview, and now…you’re put into a room with about 20 other equally apt, intelligent and hungry law students all vying for the same positions. Seems like an intimidating situation doesn’t it? Well, that’s because it is. But fear not: Above all the stress and jostling for face time, there are certain ways to ensure that you not only maximize this opportunity but create a lasting impression.
This is something that everyone is aware of, however, I still think it’s important to emphasize its importance. As shallow as it may sound, first impressions in these scenarios are vital to your success. Dress professionally and dress for success.
2. Arrive on time and smile
If your schedule allows it, arrive on time rather than fashionably late. It is important to remember that everyone is in the same position and that receptions are stressful for even the most extroverted individuals. Body language is huge in situations like these where circumstances dictate that you have a small window to impress. A smile and emanation of positivity goes further than you would anticipate.
3. Demeanour and conduct
While being yourself is important, so is conducting yourself accordingly. When meeting people, shake hands firmly and repeat their names back to ensure that you remember. If you have met the individual before, use a prompt to jog their memory. Make sure to keep your drink or food in your left hand so that your right hand is available (this also ensures it’s not cold or damp…no one likes shaking a cold or damp hand). On the topic of cocktails, restrict yourself. This will ensure you stay on your “A” game. Keep your conversations short to maximize your time, but don’t be rude or dismissive. Ask pointed, rather than general, questions. General questions give the impression that you haven’t done your homework. Maintain eye contact, give whomever you’re speaking with your undivided attention.
4. Mingle…with your cohorts
Mingling is synonymous with events like this. However, often overlooked, is peer mingling. While face time with the lawyers (from associates to partners) is important, equally as significant is meeting your fellow students. Law firms are successful, in large measure, due to teamwork and collaboration. The lawyers are always observing, and how you interact with your peers speaks volumes about your character. Talk with everyone, be friendly and above all, be genuine.
5. Seek out the “right” people
Whether it’s a managing partner or members of the student committee that you haven’t, or have for that matter, had the chance to interact with, be sure to seek these people out. While speaking with everyone is important, speaking with the “right” people mustn’t be overlooked. Speak with the younger associates and current students (if they’re around), they’ll point you in the right direction.
Like noted previously, these situations are stressful…for everyone. While these five takeaways won’t guarantee your success, because only you can do that, they will certainly help lead to that 8:00am phone call we all hope to have.
Above all else, these receptions are another interview. Happy mingling.