The Truth about the On-Campus Interview Program
|Published in the July 5, 2011, Advisor
We’ve heard about some interesting rumors and half-truths circulating among students. Don’t let misinformation dissuade you from participating or impair your performance in this process. Learn the truth about this valuable program so that you can make the most of it.
First, don’t assume that on-campus interviews are only for top-ranked students who want to work at large private law firms. Most on-campus employers do set a preferred class rank, but few restrict their applicant pool to the top 10%; far more accept resumes from students in the top quarter or third of the class, and a few consider students in the top half. Also, our on-campus interview pool has included district attorney and attorney general offices, the United States Attorney’s office, public interest employers, legal services, and small firms. Before deciding that on-campus interviews do not suit you, look over the list of employers and read about them.
Second, be selective; choose employers that are likely to consider you rather than applying to every employer. For example, if a firm states that it requires that applicants be ranked in the top 15% of their class and you’re in the top half, don’t apply to that firm unless you can state a clear, persuasive business reason for that firm to consider your credentials. Instead, target employers that accept candidates in your class rank range; research those employers carefully; write thoughtful, tailored cover letters; and prepare well for interviews with those firms. Be flexible and consider smaller firms and firms outside your preferred geographic region.
Third, understand that careful research and thorough interview preparation is required in this process. You will not receive a job offer through this program without preparing, even if you have enjoyed such luck in the past. The rules have changed. You must write clear, persuasive, error-free cover letters; you must invest time and energy in preparing for every interview. Interviewers’ most common complaint is that students were not knowledgeable about their prospective employer.
Fourth, remember that the on-campus interview program, while a great opportunity, is just one part of your job search process. The on-campus interview program is a high-profile program; law students from around the country participate in it. Therefore, you must conduct your own search, independently identifying and contacting employers that interest you.
Fifth, if you haven’t already done so, polish your resume, draft a cover letter, download your transcript, choose a writing sample, and find a suit. You can’t do this all at the last minute; take care of these tasks now.
Finally, remember that we are here to help, so please contact us with questions. Call, write, or visit. Read and respond to our emails. Bring or send your materials for review. Our office is very busy in August and September; don’t delay.