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Interview Tips for Attorney Candidates

You’ve jumped through the hoops, created an intriguing cover letter, and polished your resume so that it shines. Now you just need to get through the interview process – which is often easier said than done. With fierce competition out there, you’re going to need to interview well and shine brighter than the other candidates.

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Landing Your Dream Job

Preparation for the interview is key to landing your dream job. At Astor Professional Search, our recruiters work extensively with attorney candidates at all levels in their careers to develop the techniques, communication skills, and confidence they need to maximize their probability of success. When preparing candidates for interviews, we conduct a considerable amount of role playing and critique so that partners, associates, and in-house counsel alike are well-prepared throughout their meetings. We help candidates master the art of interviewing better than any attorney recruiting firm in the country.

Tips for a Successful Interview

Following these interview tips will significantly improve your chances for success when you come face-to-face with your potential employer.

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Dressing the Part
You will never get a second chance to make a great first impression. By dressing professionally, you will demonstrate to the employer that you are serious about the position. Make sure to plan your wardrobe in advance to avoid a last-minute crisis.

Understand the Position
Conduct research to find out what the role requires. By knowing the employer’s expectations in advance, you can edge out other, less knowledgeable candidates.

Research the Law Firm or Company
It’s important to demonstrate to your potential employer that you had the initiative to learn about them. Make use of the internet to research bio pages for the attorneys or staff members you’ll be meeting, check out their website, and use other internet resources to really get to know them.

Craft Some Interview Stories
To help determine whether you’re a good fit for the law firm or company culture, the interviewer(s) will likely ask you behavioral questions that will require longer answers. Since it can be difficult to articulate a cohesive and compelling story when you are on the spot, it’s a good idea to craft a few interview stories in advance.

Since the day I started as a real estate associate at a major Chicago law firm, recruiters would call me on a regular basis. My connection with Bill Sugarman at Astor Professional Search was immediate, and his sincerity and knowledge of the marketplace set him heads and shoulders above all the other recruiters. Bill was able to easily identify my goals and concerns and locate the best opportunities. His many connections run to law firms and companies alike, and ultimately enabled me to make the switch to a unique opportunity on the business side.

Brian Howard
President, Stage Equity Partners, LLC | Former General Counsel at Baum Development, LLC

It was critical for me to take an exhaustive approach in considering a lateral move. Having known Bill Sugarman for several years, I felt very comfortable with his strategic philosophy and in-depth market knowledge. I was thrilled to have Bill in my corner as a trusted advisor, particularly given the magnitude of the process and my ultimate decision. I have been extremely happy with the results, and I continue to recommend Bill and Astor Professional Search to any attorneys contemplating a move.

Craig D. Leavell
Intellectual Property Partner | Barnes & Thornburg, LLP

The lateral hiring process can be onerous, and it was beyond helpful to have Bill Sugarman and his experience in my corner, backing my efforts to advance my career. Bill had the unique ability to recognize my priorities while I was still formulating them, and he was strategic in aligning those priorities with potential firms. He was willing to jump on the phone in short order at any time, including nights and weekends, to talk through any issue along the way, no matter how big or small. Bill is the type of advocate you want on your team when considering a move.

Dan Gelwicks
Intellectual Property Attorney | Steptoe & Johnson, LLP

After 14 years of practicing corporate law and building my practice with the same law firm, the notion of moving firms and working with a legal recruiter was daunting. However, my experience with Bill Sugarman was extremely positive from the first phone call. Not only did Bill spend a great deal of time with me, but his in-depth analysis and consultation really helped me put things in perspective. Bill’s responsiveness and comprehensive approach throughout the entire process proved invaluable in the results we achieved. I have the highest regard for Bill and Astor Professional Search, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Bill to anyone.

David Cellitti
Corporate Partner | Quarles & Brady LLP

As former President and CEO of one of the nation’s leading online brokerage firms, I oversaw our search for an associate general counsel. We were extremely selective with exactly who and what we were looking for. Bill Sugarman, of Astor Professional Search, asked the right questions and took the time to find the specific attributes that were critical to us. He presented us with only the strongest candidates to fit our needs. I was particularly impressed with his high level of candor, responsiveness and overall diligence. We were extremely happy with the manner in which he conducted the overall search as well as the outstanding results he delivered.

David Fisher
CEO of Enova | Former President and CEO at optionsXpress, Inc.

I was happy in my position at my law firm, but my long-term career goal was to move in-house. Unlike other recruiters who simply passed me law firm opportunities in the hopes of a quick placement, Joel Bronstein of Astor Professional Search took the time to really understand my long-term goals. Thanks to Joel’s persistence and huge network, he ultimately connected me with a unique in-house opportunity that I likely never would have discovered on my own and without his guidance. Joel became a trusted advisor and resource for me throughout the search process, and at every step along the way. I would not hesitate to recommend Joel and Astor to other attorneys who are looking for a professional change, whether at a law firm or elsewhere.

David W. Nordsieck
Assistant General Counsel | CCC Information Services Inc.

Bill Sugarman is a fantastic legal recruiter who spent a great deal of time getting to know me on both a professional and personal level. His tenacity, market knowledge and vast network of relationships were instrumental in procuring multiple offers for me. Ultimately, I was able to choose the right opportunity after thorough analysis that was made easier through Bill’s detailed consultation and sound judgement throughout the process. I would gladly recommend Bill and Astor Professional Search to any of my friends or business associates.

Edward J. McGillen
Estate Planning Partner | Thompson Coburn, LLP

My family and I were in the process of relocating, and I was considering available career opportunities that would make sense for me. After consulting with Joel Bronstein, of Astor Professional Search, we were able to identify an ideal position that would enable me to achieve my long-term goals. Joel was instrumental in each step of the process, and his high level of market knowledge, strategic insight, and tactical advice were invaluable. I would strongly recommend Joel and Astor to any attorney exploring the market in Chicago or throughout the country, as well as to any attorney simply interested in gaining a better market perspective through Astor’s expertise.

John L. Mack
Litigation Associate | Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP

Having a sizable book of business in my intellectual property litigation practice, I knew that I would have good options when I decided to leave my previous law firm. Although I had worked with other legal recruiters previously, it wasn’t until I worked with Bill Sugarman of Astor Professional Search that I realized how much more value he brought to the table as my advocate. His thorough market insight and attention to detail, coupled with his accessibility and superior work ethic are unparalleled. I continue to be very pleased with the results he delivered.

Jonathan Hill
Intellectual Property Partner at Flachsbart & Greenspoon, LLC | Former Intellectual Property Partner at Freeborn & Peters LLP

Joel Bronstein, of Astor Professional Search, was an invaluable part of my lateral search when I was looking to relocate. I thought that identifying law firms that aligned with my long-term goals in a different geographic region would be a challenging ordeal, but through Joel’s impressive market intelligence and detailed guidance, the process was much smoother and easier than I anticipated. Joel exceeded my expectations by taking the time to gain an in-depth understanding of my goals and priorities from multiple perspectives. I would strongly recommend Astor Professional Search to any attorney.

Jonathan Rash
Corporate Attorney | Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, LLP

As a corporate attorney at an international law firm, I was constantly receiving recruiter phone calls. However, Joel Bronstein at Astor Professional Search immediately stood out from the crowd. My experience with him was particularly refreshing, given his professionalism, market knowledge, and sincere interest in my long-term goals. Joel was diligent and patient as we navigated a variety of quality opportunities. I would happily recommend him and Astor to any attorney interested in gaining a better understanding of the legal market and exploring their career options.

Kevin Waklatsi
Corporate Attorney | Winston & Strawn LLP

After 15 years at an IP boutique firm, I decided to move to a full-service firm to better serve my clients. I had concerns about the process, finding the right fit, and ensuring a seamless transition for my clients. Bill Sugarman of Astor Professional Search guided me through the entire process, first by discussing my objectives and determining my clients’ needs, and then by continuously asking insightful questions and applying his experience to my objectives. His in-depth knowledge of the legal market and firm-specific culture, as well as his extensive network of relationships, were critical to the process. His experience and coaching resulted in a “perfect-fit” transition for me. Bill is a communicative, sincere, and objective advocate. I strongly recommend Bill and Astor to any attorney either looking to make a move or just exploring the market.

Kurt W. Rohde
Intellectual Property Partner | Barnes & Thornburg, LLP

As the hiring partner with a national law firm specializing in real estate law, I need to make sure that the candidates we interview, and ultimately hire, have what it takes to satisfy the heavy demands of our high profile clients. Astor Professional Search has really advanced our recruiting efforts by continuously providing the type of top legal talent that can sometimes be difficult to find in a competitive market. Astor’s ability to target high caliber candidates, and effectively communicate our firm message to them, has proven very successful in delivering outstanding results for us.

Marc A. Benjamin
Real Estate Partner | White & Case (Former Hiring Partner, Pircher, Nichols & Meeks)

I’ve been contacted by many legal recruiters over the years, but Bill Sugarman really stood apart from the pack for his professional approach, patience, and polite but requisite persistence. Those good qualities, and his seasoned market savvy, serve his clients very well.

Martin Tully
Partner at Redgrave LLP | Former Litigation Partner at Akerman, LLP

I was referred to Astor Professional Search by a former colleague, who was very happy with her overall experience and ultimate results. Bill Sugarman spent a lot of time with me discussing my short, intermediate, and long-term goals. His experience and connections helped him readily identify the opportunities which best positioned me to achieve these goals. Equally important, Bill was interested in finding a place in which I would fit personally as well as professionally, which is critical to my success and the firm’s ultimate success. I continue to recommend Bill to any attorney contemplating a job change.

Matthew A. Bills
Litigation Partner | Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg LLP

Bill Sugarman, of Astor Professional Search, really helps you examine your career goals and determine what type of firm will be best for you. He knows the Chicago legal market extremely well. He immediately understood what type of environment I was looking for and he helped me to achieve my goals. Changing law firms can be a difficult and stressful process, but Bill made the transition much easier than I expected.

Michael Rechtin
Real Estate Partner | Seyfarth Shaw LLP

As an experienced real estate attorney, it was very important to me that my recruiter understood not only the general reputations and qualities of firms, but which specialties each firm excelled at. Through his contacts in the legal community and long-time experience, Bill had a great sense of what smaller departments were like within the context of bigger firms. This expertise enabled me to find a firm and department that fit my specific goals for both work and firm culture. Bill put a tremendous amount of effort into my search and was very involved in helping me get through each step of the process. It was very helpful and useful to have his advice and support through my search. I would definitely recommend Astor Professional Search to anyone.

Michael Steingo
Vice President, J.P. Morgan Asset Management | Former Real Estate Attorney at DLA Piper US

In an ever-changing legal market, our lateral recruiting efforts continue to be a top priority. Having known Bill Sugarman for over 25 years, we have the utmost confidence in Astor Professional Search to represent our law firm’s attorney recruiting interests in a highly effective manner. Astor treats Much Shelist and its lateral task force with integrity and professionalism, and we are thrilled to have Bill and his company securely in our corner.

Mitchell S. Roth
Principal and Chair, Management Committee | Much Shelist, PC

I had the pleasure of working with Bill Sugarman when I made my lateral move. Through his real-time market intelligence, vast connections and excellent work ethic, Bill made an otherwise arduous process very smooth and manageable. I would highly recommend him as a legal recruiter to anyone considering a lateral move at the partner level.

Robert Winner
Corporate Partner | Akerman, LLP

The many demands of a growing firm like ours requires the legal recruiters we work with to be very efficient when conducting lateral searches for us. Working with Bill Sugarman at Astor Search is refreshing, because he has a very good understanding of our firm culture and our particular needs, and as a result is consistently able to provide us with highly credentialed candidates whose personalities tend to fit in well with our firm environment.

Sonia Menon
Chief Talent Officer | Neal Gerber & Eisenberg, LLP

As we continue to grow our Chicago office and expand our national footprint, the select few legal search firms with whom we work must be at the top of their game. Astor Professional Search, under the leadership of Bill Sugarman, epitomizes this notion. Not only has Astor provided us with the highest caliber of lateral partner talent on a consistent basis, but they have done so in a way which makes the entire process seamless. Their combination of in-depth market knowledge, partner relationships, candid communication and high integrity really sets them apart. We look forward to continued mutual success with Astor in the years to come.

Tony Nasharr
Capital Markets/Banking Shareholder & Former Managing Shareholder | Polsinelli PC/Chicago
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Research Commonly Asked Interview Questions
While there are no cookie-cutter interviews, there are a number of questions that potential employers frequently ask during interviews. Familiarize yourself with these questions and have your answers prepared in advance to avoid missing out on a golden opportunity.
Some interview questions candidates of all levels in their careers can expect include:

  • Tell us about yourself
  • Why did you choose your particular law school?
  • Why did you decide to become an attorney?
  • Why do you think you are a good attorney?
  • Are you familiar with our firm (or company)?
  • Tell us about a major accomplishment
  • What are your long-term goals?

Additionally, partner candidates may be asked:

  • Why do you think our platform would be more conducive to expanding your practice?
  • What obstacles at your current firm have prevented you from expanding your book?
  • What specific ways would you be able to utilize our platform when expanding your practice?
  • Why do you think your clients would be more oriented to our platform?
  • What is the most difficult or challenging client you’ve dealt with and how were you able to overcome those challenges to be successful?

They may also ask you about your weaknesses, why they should hire you over other attorney candidates, and how your skill set will bring value to the firm.

Be prepared to Ask Questions
Asking questions at the end of the interview will demonstrate to the interviewer that you are seriously interested in the position. It’s a good idea to prepare at least two questions that demonstrate your interest in the firm or company and that you have done your homework by researching the company or department.

Demonstrate Enthusiasm and Confidence
Interviewers are more likely to offer you the position if you demonstrate passion, enthusiasm, and confidence during the interview. Remember, your level of passion, enthusiasm, and confidence reflects your ability and willingness to perform effectively. A few ways to demonstrate these character traits include:

  • Posture and Body Language: Your body language will significantly influence the way the interviewer sees you, and research suggests that it can actually make you feel more confident about yourself. Standing and sitting up straight, avoiding fidgeting behaviors, smiling, nodding in response, and making eye contact can help demonstrate your confidence and your interest in the position.
  • Energy: Your level of energy says a lot about your passion and enthusiasm about the position. To bring energy to the interview table, speak clearly and maybe a little louder than usual, use inflection in your voice, and actively participate in the conversation.
  • Interest: If something sounds impressive, say so. Compliment the firm’s culture, achievements, or other aspects to let the employer know you’re excited about working with them.
  • Finish Strong: Be sure to maintain a high level of professionalism, confidence, and energy to the very end. At the end of the interview, express that you are excited about the next steps in the hiring process. Then thank the interviewer(s) for their time, and end with a firm handshake.

Craft a Well-structured Thank You Note
After the interview, be sure to craft a thank you note. This is an excellent opportunity to remind the interviewer of your qualifications that set you apart from the other attorney candidates and reinforce your good impression in your interviewer’s mind. It is a good idea to send the thank you note within 24 hours of the interview if possible.

Discover how the legal recruiters at Astor Professional Search can help you reach your goals. Call 312-781-9000 today.

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