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Interview Dress Q's

sjwaste

Diamond Member
Aug 2, 2000
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I did a little searching, thinking OCI is upon us and others are possibly in the same boat, but didn't come up with much. Feel free to bury the topic if it's a repost.

I have a few interviews in the coming weeks for summer associate positions and I was curious if there's anything specifically NOT to wear when interviewing with attorneys that might not be common fashion sense for those of us that don't yet have to dress this way every day.

I was planning on wearing a solid grey suit with a blue oxford and a tie that's primarily a soft yellow with some blue in it. I notice a lot of professionals wear red ties, but I tend to like yellow a little better. Same for white shirts.

Should I be playing it safe and going with a white shirt and red tie with the suit, or is what I've picked professional enough?

Thanks in advance.
 
Feb 10, 2000
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You should be fine, but there are some firms so conservative that they more or less don't let associates wear anything but a white shirt. I would probably go for a white shirt if you're looking at the big firms. I don't think you will get dinged for the tie color.
 

sjwaste

Diamond Member
Aug 2, 2000
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Originally posted by: DonVito
You should be fine, but there are some firms so conservative that they more or less don't let associates wear anything but a white shirt. I would probably go for a white shirt if you're looking at the big firms. I don't think you will get dinged for the tie color.
Thanks. I was always under the impression that blue was just as traditional a color, but I might go with the white shirt since I don't want to get burnt on something trivial.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find much out about my interviewers. I know their names, but NALP and Martindale don't have much on them, so I'm not sure of age, background, etc.
 
Feb 10, 2000
30,029
66
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Originally posted by: sjwaste
Originally posted by: DonVito
You should be fine, but there are some firms so conservative that they more or less don't let associates wear anything but a white shirt. I would probably go for a white shirt if you're looking at the big firms. I don't think you will get dinged for the tie color.
Thanks. I was always under the impression that blue was just as traditional a color, but I might go with the white shirt since I don't want to get burnt on something trivial.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find much out about my interviewers. I know their names, but NALP and Martindale don't have much on them, so I'm not sure of age, background, etc.
I gather you tried the firm websites? Nowadays nearly every firm has SOME website, and they are usually updated more often than the Martindale-Hubbell database.
 

sjwaste

Diamond Member
Aug 2, 2000
8,758
3
76
Originally posted by: DonVito
Originally posted by: sjwaste
Originally posted by: DonVito
You should be fine, but there are some firms so conservative that they more or less don't let associates wear anything but a white shirt. I would probably go for a white shirt if you're looking at the big firms. I don't think you will get dinged for the tie color.
Thanks. I was always under the impression that blue was just as traditional a color, but I might go with the white shirt since I don't want to get burnt on something trivial.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find much out about my interviewers. I know their names, but NALP and Martindale don't have much on them, so I'm not sure of age, background, etc.
I gather you tried the firm websites? Nowadays nearly every firm has SOME website, and they are usually updated more often than the Martindale-Hubbell database.
I did, and there's a pretty wide range of how people are dressed in the pics. Of course, most of those guys are partners and can do what they want :)
 

Dirigible

Diamond Member
Apr 26, 2006
5,947
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I've interviewed a lot of people and as long as you look neat, tidy, and professional it's fine with me. Look sloppy or disinterested and it's a ding.

I could imagine things being different at other places. I've only been interviewed, interviewed others, and worked in the CA Bay Area and I've never actually worn a suit to work once I've gotten the job. That'd be different if I ever went to court, but I never do that 'cause I'm a nerdy patent dude.
 

teddyv

Senior member
May 7, 2005
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First of all, most of us hate interviewing, especially on-campus interviews (which are actually usually at some nearby business-generic hotel.) Here are some tips.

1. KNOW THE FIRM. I cannot count how many times I've wanted to reach across the coffee table and strangle some idiot who comes in knowing nothing about the firm, our practice areas and the partners leading them, recent big cases and firm news, etc. Do you research and know something that will surprise me.

2. Have at least a vague idea of what practice areas interest you and why. Show some independent interest outside what you've learned in class.

3. We really don't care what makes you unique, we are however VERY impressed if you can let us know what, in your eyes, makes US unique.

3. Ask Intelligent Questions. If the first question out of your mouth is about leave policy you're history. I had one candidate recently ask me why our firm only finished mid-pack in the annual associate firm ratings - that impressed me because it showed genuine interest, was not expected, and put me on the spot.

4. Do NOT use "like", "ummm", "yeah", "you know", etc. Saying less means what you say means more. We like to play the "who talks next game" where we will let the conversation stall for a minute to see if candidate squirms or breaks the uncomfortable silence with gibberish trying to get the conversation flowing again. Either wait this out or be ready to throw out some unique insight that shows us you have a genuine interest in the firm that stretches out beyond the previous day when you received your final interview picks.

5. Clothing is a non-issue unless you make it one. Dark suit, white shirt, subdued tie (try dark blue, not yellow), and for God's sake wear normal black dress shoes. Bostonian makes a whole array of affordable, traditional black dress shoes (check out the Akron.) Don't get stylish with square fronts and thick soles, just wear a pair we won't even notice.

Lastly, get a decent haircut a few days before, get rid of creative facial hair, don't smoke or eat for a few hours before coming in, take a few hits of mint breath freshener and wash your hands right before coming in, and make double sure you're zipped up :)
 

sjwaste

Diamond Member
Aug 2, 2000
8,758
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Thanks teddyv, that's a good set of tips. I'm an evening student, so I can say I've had my fair share of job interviews, and what you've told me is quite a bit like how I would prepare for any other professional interview. The hiring firm needs to know what you can do for them, not the other way around. I'm pretty good at holding the conversation, which is why I'm almost a little worried that they only book us for 20-30 min time slots. Honestly, I've never had an interview last less than an hour, even during the "informal" ones where I got my employer to move me into a law clerk position. In your experience, do they tend to run over in reality, at least when there's mutual interest?
 

teddyv

Senior member
May 7, 2005
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Think of these as door openers, a weeding out for the serious (and full day) callbacks. We already have your resume and transcript so if you've followed the pick guidelines you're in our ballpark and it is up to you to make the most of the 25 minutes. Again, this is not a full interview, just a weeding out - treat it like a full interview in 25 minutes and you'll either exhaust them or freak them out.

We're looking for someone who has a genuine interest in the firm, someone who is informed, intelligent and well spoken, who has a calm and professional demeanor, who is confident (***not arrogant***) and has leadership skills, and someone who will produce the minimum of drama and while consistently billing more than required while turning out a work product better than expected.

We hear the same thing over and over again all day - if you want to stand out really do your research and work the conversation. "I saw that one of your partners Fred Fredericks recently published an article on the Holmes case and antitrust regulation relating to aquiculture, I am fascinated by this area and would jump at a chance to work for him" is a much better question in a 25-minute interview than "So, like how many hours do first years Associates really have to bill out?" You get the idea.
 

sjwaste

Diamond Member
Aug 2, 2000
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I appreciate it teddyv. I have an OCI with a government agency tomorrow, which I'm actually very interested in based on the work they do (salary won't touch the firms, but if it's all about money I can just stay with the job I have now and not be a lawyer at all). I'll let you know how it goes. I'm the first time slot in the morning, right at 9:00. I'm definitely interested and have taken your advice.

I can see how it gets unnerving, though, people pretending to be interested because they bid on every firm/agency on the list. I think as a night student, I have the luxury of only bidding where I really want to go. I can always stay put and advance my career, as a JD is well regarded in our management ranks, so everyone I bid on and everyone that has selected me in OCI is a legitimate place that I'd like to work. I've done my homework, so we'll see.
 

ElFenix

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Mar 20, 2000
101,595
5,850
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god i'm glad i never went through the OCI mess.

as my boss says: there are 5 levels of gray

undertaker gray
lawyer gray
banker gray
accountant gray
used car salesman gray

be sure you've got the right one.
 

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