Handshake

Megan Kheong (2L)

On-Campus Interviews: those dreaded words of fall. That flurry of panic and anxiety that sweeps you up and inevitably occupies your mind until Christmas. While I can’t tell you that it will be a fun experience, I can guarantee you of two things: 1) it’s a rite of passage that every lawyer goes through, and 2) you’ll one day be glad that you powered through it. Really, you will. To help you get to that happy place, I’ve been asked to share what I took away from my OCI experience:

1) Be yourself. It’s the phrase that our mothers wished us well with on the first day of kindergarten – but it couldn’t be truer or more important in the case of OCIs. My reasoning is two-fold: First, firms come in having done their research about you. They’ve extensively reviewed your resume. They’ve looked you up on Facebook. And they picked you for a reason. Now, they’re simply looking to confirm that you’re the person that they thought you were. Second, being yourself is the best way to gauge whether that firm “fits” with you. If you can’t be yourself around these people for 20 minutes, why would you want to work there anyway?

2) Be prepared to be grilled on your hobbies and interests. I have to admit, this took me by surprise. Being the type-A perfectionist that I am, I went in with my coles-notes of the firm website and scripted answers to the “why us?” type questions on repeat in my head. I did my confident two-pump handshake and sat down, armed and ready. My interviewer looked me square in the eye and said “so…name your favourite pinot noir from the Okanagan!” After what felt like an eternity of utter panic, I thought “Hey, I know this!” Needless to say, that interview flew by. And questions relating to the “interests” section on my resume came up in every single interview: “Who did you ski race with?” “What are you reading right now?” “Do you like poutine?” [That last one’s not a joke. Sometimes you’ll just have to roll with it.]

3) Engage in the courting process. OCIs are really just a twisted version of speed-dating. You both have limited time to determine whether “that tingly feeling” is there. And just as you’ll be feeling nervous and insecure, I can assure you that law firms feel the same way. They invest an enormous amount of time and energy into this process, and they’re vying for your affection amid perhaps more attractive and better-endowed firms. They want to see that you’re interested. Having a few firm-specific questions to ask will go a long way. This also works on a more micro scale – if possible, know a bit about your interviewers (what law school they graduated from, what area they work it, etc.) and don’t be afraid to ask them questions. However, be careful not to go too far – nobody likes a stalker.