Over the past 27 years, I have conducted interviewer training for 87 law firms and have interviewed over 10,000 candidates myself. Creating and delivering all of these trainings has caused me to think a lot about which traits are most important to focus on when interviewing law students.
Based on my experiences, these are the four key traits that result in good hiring decisions:
- Self-Motivation: Students who are internally driven to do a great job because this is who they are, rather than just for external rewards. I ask like to ask candidates, “What motivates you?” to assess this important trait.
- Practical Intelligence: Individuals who know how to apply the knowledge they have acquired to solve problems and make decisions. This is why going beyond the resume and exploring how the candidate has applied what they learned is critical. Too often attorneys are so impressed with a law student who has excelled academically that they don’t ask questions to assess whether the candidate is more than just “school smart.”
- Grit: Candidates who know how to persevere and have a growth mindset perform better because they have the resilience needed to adapt to new challenges.
- Client Focus: Those who understand that practicing Big Law is about serving clients will contribute greatly. Making sure your interviewers ask questions to ascertain whether the law student has the desire to serve others is critical to hiring the right talent.
I love helping attorneys master interview skills so they are armed with high-mileage questions that help them to learn whether the law student has the traits needed to excel in the practice of law, not just the study of law.