OCI Hiring Partners Tell All: Part 2

Bitter Staff Columns, Lawyer 25 Comments

Some interviews just don’t go well. In this installment of our hiring partner OCI series, the partners dish out thoughts on the worst interviews they’ve had, what law students frequently get wrong in the interview, and what to do if your interview goes down the tubes in the first five minutes. It’s all so hot that some partners wouldn’t even go on record.

If a law student totally blows the interview in the first five minutes, what should they do?

Anonymous Partner, AmLaw 125 (Washington, D.C.):

How do they know that they’ve blown it? I’m serious. Law students say a lot of stupid things in interviews, but very few things are catastrophic. They shouldn’t dwell on how they’re doing—that’s my call. They should just keep going with the interview.

Alex Fugazzi, Partner, Snell & Wilmer LLP (Las Vegas):

We’ve all been there and know how awkward and artificial the interview process can feel. It helps to try putting the student at ease and getting to know them, but that’s not always successful. If a student blows the interview in the first five minutes, they should take a second to collect themselves and then address whatever mistakes they made in the first five minutes.  It can be as simple as, ‘Going back to what you asked me earlier, let me try and do a better job answering your question . . .’

Anonymous Partner, AmLaw 75 (Los Angeles):

If they really know that they’ve blown it (and they’re not just being paranoid and insecure), they should try and fix it. Laugh about it, then move on.

Andrew Struve, Partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP (Los Angeles):

They shouldn’t assume they’ve blown it; they might not have. So the first thing they should do is not assume anything because it’s very, very hard to really blow an interview. But if they think they did, they should just relax. They have nothing to lose at that point, right? Who knows, maybe by relaxing they can actually turn it around. A lot of what you think is important doesn’t really matter at all.

What’s the worst thing you’ve seen a law student do or say in an interview?

Alex Fugazzi, Partner, Snell & Wilmer LLP (Las Vegas):

Cocky name-droppers get nowhere by spending an inordinate amount of time telling how prominent their family is and the circle of friends with whom their parents associate.  While these connections can certainly be viewed as an asset, law students run a significant risk of coming off too strong with this.

The truth is, first year lawyers, no matter how smart they are or what grades and accolades they received in academia, are now the low man on the totem pole.  They need to be humble and ready to learn from everyone—more senior attorneys, paralegals, secretaries, everyone. If I get the impression they are spoiled rich kids unwilling to work hard—or worse, that they will cause an administrative problem for me—then the rest of their resume doesn’t matter. They will not get hired.

Andrew Struve, Partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP (Los Angeles):

The worst thing I’ve seen on an interview? Admit to sexism. That was the worst thing. I had a male candidate who called food service a job for females. That was really bad, and it ended his chances right there. But it made my life easy; I had a clear ‘no.’

Anonymous Partner, AmLaw 75 (Los Angeles):

At UCLA Law I remember a woman telling me a joke, and then telling me the same joke ten minutes later. Clearly she was on speed dial, and I guess that was her thing for every interview.  She just forgot that she had already shared that joke with me. I didn’t call her on it, but I did laugh on the inside.

What’s a common mistake law students make on interviews that really grates on you?

Andrew Struve, Partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP (Los Angeles):

Overconfidence. Confidence is good, but overconfidence isn’t helpful. A quality lawyer always has a touch of humility, so I don’t like to see overconfidence. That just doesn’t work for me at all.

Anonymous Partner, AmLaw 150 (New York):

A common mistake is for a candidate to reference something that our firm does, but it’s a practice group that’s not in my office, which is the office their interviewing for. [Firm name] is famous for a lot of things, but in New York, we’re pretty much about M&A, so talking to me about those things that we’re indirectly famous for really isn’t all that helpful. In fact, it kind of hurts you because you look like you didn’t do any research. You’ve got to be true to yourself, and you’ve got to know what you want. It’s about getting a job in the right place. Not every firm is for everyone and vice versa.

From the Hiring Partners Tell All Series

  • OCI Hiring Partners Tell All. Catching an applicant in a lie, favorite interview questions, and what you wish you knew then that you only know now.
  • OCI Hiring Partners Tell All: Part 2. Hiring partners’ worst interviews, including dealing with cocky name-droppers, admitting to sexism in an interview, and what to do if you bomb the interview in the first five minutes.
  • OCI Hiring Partners Tell All: Part 3. Manners and looks. As in, do good looks actually matter? And is the handwritten thank-you note a relic of the 1990’s?

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  • Guana

    Where is Nick Conley?  Why can’t this website be as good as it was before 9/15 (Lehman) and get some fresh material?  We want Nick, We want Nick, We want Nick!  Give us some quality, man!

  • Anon feemale

    I miss Guano Dubango.  WHere did he go? Back to Ghana?

  • Nihilista

    This whole OCI interview series has been completely worthless.  Let’s face it, OCI is only for the top 10 percent and/or those at T14 schools…and benefits some demographics, women/minorities, over others.
    These comments by law firm partners are useless.  What matters most is law school rank, class rank, law review, demographic, and whether one worked at a top employer prior to law school such as Goldman Sachs.
    For everyone else, good luck getting a job on your own.

  • Anon

    Hey Nihilista douche bag:  Once you get that interview on your own, don’t think it helps to know what to say or what not to say?  Bitter, thankless bitch.

  • BL1Y

    I guess Nihilista wants pointers on how to get into a better law school (higher LSAT and GPA), how to get better grades (study more), how to make law review (study even more) and how to improve her demographics (lie).  Also, a lot of regional firms do OCI with regional law schools.  I’m sure Miami firms recruit from U. Miami, Birmingham firms recruit from Bama, and Newark firms recruit from Seton Hall (j/k, does anyone do OCI at Seton Hall?).

  • Nihilista

    To Anon:  Misogynist much?  Apparently the meaning of the name of this website and my name are completely lost on you.  Oh well, your attitude represents most lawyers anyway….and BL1Y: well, yeah, duh to all your advice except the lying part…and yes, a lot of small and medium sized law firms do narrow their OCI interviewing to schools in their regions IF they do OCI at all…I have always advised to potential law students that if you want to practice in a region, go to the least expensive but good school there unless you get into a top 10 school.  I.e. if you want to practice in Georgia, go to Ga. State or UGA and not Emory or in DC, go to George Mason and not GW.

  • Craig

    This OCI interview skills stuff obviously cannot really help you when you are interviewing.  The Bitter Advice and all the comments also can’t really help you with a situation.  If you come to Bitter Lawyer to actually learn new skills or get serious advice, it is already over for you.  These interview articles are for entertainment only.

  • Lawyer Bob

    Where did this Nihilista fool come from?

  • Anon

    She’s just Alma/Guano’s new blog comment character!

  • Alma Federer

    This silly website keeps deleting my posts, because I am smart and pretty, and evidently they are thinking only one woman can be all that.

  • Doug

    Alma wrote: “This silly website keeps deleting my posts, because I am smart and pretty, and evidently they are thinking only one woman can be all that.”


    Um, Alma, you know what they say. On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. I think they delete your comments because they don’t comply with the terms of service. It has nothing to do with your looks because nobody on here knows what anyone looks like.”


  • Anon

    Anyone else notice how Alma magically appeared right after I called her out.  Man, that poor beautiful smart amazing female lawyer!  Guano… where you at?

  • Bill Dugan

    These “Anons’ are likely tools who work the website.  Instead of coming up with dumb comments, they should be focusing on improving content.  When Alma and Guano are the focus, it’s clear that the content is sub-par, no?

  • Lady lawyer

    Children, children, read the site for entertainment and a few practical tips.  Of course you all have been through interviews, did any of you make mistakes?  The law business was a lot different then it is today.  So be ready for your next interview that may come any day.  Anyone who thinks they are safe better think again unless you own the firm and even then problems.

  • Big Jim

    Bill Dugan: It’s clear that you’re a tool and probably Alma, Guano, and every other annoying poster on this site.  Peace.

  • Anon tool

    Bill Dugan, what other insane conspiracy theories do you subscribe to?

  • Anonymous

    How defensive the hapless tools are that are on staph on the website.  Get to work on making it better instead of bashing the commentators, who are for the most part much more interesting than most of the articles.

  • New Guy

    I’m a 2L and I just found out about this site because someone sent me this article. It was actually kind of nice to hear about OCI from the interviewers perspective.

  • 2nd Tier Tool

    I just found out about this site too.  Good stuff.  I can use all the help I can get.  It’s a tough job market out there.

  • TTT 3L

    What is OCI?

  • Bl1Y

    Don’t worry about it.

  • Joey

    tough market man

  • Nihilista

    Uh, no, I am not Alma/Guano or any other commentator’s “new” screen name.  My writing style is much different that theirs and at least my initial comment was relevant to the subject matter of the parent article, that being OCI.  Of which I still maintain, OCI is geared towards and benefits only a small sliver of a law school’s student body, the top ten (or maybe twenty) percent.  Sure, there will always be exceptions for some people that OCI actually helped out that were not in the top of their law school class.  And as far as these articles about OCI from the partner’s perspective, well, at my law school none of the on campus interviewers from medium firms and larger were law firm partners, but were associates.  OCI is not the way the majority of law students will find jobs, because practically the same 20 to 40 people interview for most of the OCI interview slots.  (of course, there will be exceptions)

  • Jerome

    Nihilista, how do you know Alma/Guano are the same person? Busted!

  • Nihilista

    Jerome, maybe you should have read the previous comments before speaking.  “Alma/Guano” is how Anon phrased his comment.  I was responding to that.