Be prepared to make the most of today’s job market; keep these job interview basics in mind.

Lawyers have a reputation for being prepared. Yet it never ceases to amaze me how poorly lawyers prepare for job interviews.

Although I have no hard proof of this, my experience working with lawyers has shown they’re typically woefully unprepared. Instead of preparing, they wing it, thinking they’re smart enough to impress whoever is on the other side of the table or, nowadays, whoever is on your Zoom screen.

The Real Purpose of an Interview

Let’s first take a step back and discuss what the interview is for and what it is not for.

Contrary to what many believe, a job interview is not the time to impress people. In most situations, you’ve already impressed the employer. If they weren’t impressed with something about you from your resume, they would not be talking to you in the first place.

What is the purpose of a job interview then?

Instead of impressing, leave an impression. Specifically, that you’re easy to work with.

Employers already strongly suspect you’re capable of doing the work. Your resume tells them that. What they don’t know is whether you play nice in the sandbox.

Accordingly, treat the interview more as a casual conversation with someone you’ve just met at a social function rather than a Sunday morning news show grilling. In short, the tone should be casual and friendly.

The Four Interview Questions You Should Always Be Prepared to Answer

Now let’s turn to the most important questions you should be prepared to answer in a job interview. There are only four that I consider critical. They’re also pretty obvious ones that you probably already expect. They are:

Why do you want to leave your current job (or, if unemployed, why’s that)?Why do you want this job?Why do you think you are qualified for this job?What distinguishes you from other qualified candidates?

Your answers should be short and sweet. One to three minutes should do it. If your interviewer wants to know more than that, wait for a follow-up question. And if you think you’re saying too much while you’re answering, you probably are.

Practice Makes Poised

Yes, I know you already think you know the answers to these simple questions. But can you answer them without hesitation and in a confident manner? I doubt it because that takes preparation.

Also, answering in your head is not preparing. Neither is talking to a mirror.

The best way to practice to ensure you come across as confident and poised is to have someone ask you each question and you answer it out loud. Now do that five times in a row. I bet your answer the fifth time is far better than the first time.

A final word of advice. Make sure you sound enthusiastic and confident. No one wants to hire someone who’s not excited about the prospect of the new job or appears a bit hesitant about whether they can do it. This is the final reason to practice with a live human being. Only someone else can tell you how you sound.

Don’t Waste the Opportunities Offered by Today’s Job Market

The job market is the best it’s been in more than a decade. If you don’t remember the simple basics of job interviewing, however, you’ll be unable to take full advantage of it.

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