How To Prepare For OCIs
How to Prepare for OCIs: On campus interviews (or “OCIs”) are a very important time for law students – it can determine where you end up working after law school, and possibly for the rest of your life! In this post, we provide some tips for how to prepare for OCIs!
How To Prepare For OCIs
1. Take some time to think about what kind of work interests you.
One of the questions that interviewers often ask is what kind of legal work you are interested in. If you are passionate about litigation, tell them! Or, if your plan is to go into transactional law, let them know! But be sure that you have done your homework. If you tell a boutique litigation firm that you are interested in transactional law, you just blew that interview. It is important to think about what you really want to do after law school before you apply because if you really want to do transactional work, that boutique litigation firm probably isn’t for you and you don’t need to even apply there.
2. Prepare examples of your experiences that will help the interviewer remember you.
During on-campus interviews, representatives from the law firms may interview 20 students (or more!) in a single day. They may only have 20 minutes with each candidate. By the end of the day, all those students start to sound very similar, especially those giving the same generic answers to the questions. Make yourself stand out! Come prepared with a unique story about your background, your job experience, or your passions! Personal stories about past work you have done at a job or internship, or a cool travel experience will help make you more memorable for the interviewers! Remember, this is not the final decision: this is merely a preliminary interview. Those candidates who make an impression receive callbacks for a second interview, likely at the law firm.
3. Do your research!
At a minimum, look at the firm website, and be sure to check out the profiles of the individuals who will be interviewing you. However, try to do something beyond this that will really make you stand out. Go to networking events and try to meet individuals from firms you are interested in working at. If a firm that you are interested in is hosting an event, be sure to attend! If you know anyone who works at the firm, reach out to them and ask them what the firm is really like – what areas of practice the firm specializes in, what the firm culture is really like, and whether they like working there.
Sometimes the information on law firm websites can be deceiving. Maybe the website says that the firm practices family law because they have a partner who practiced family law ten years ago, but only takes the very occasional case now. If you show up to the interview talking about your passion for family law, the interviewers are immediately going to think you aren’t a great fit for the firm.
Try to find other resources where you can learn information about the firm. Attend events that the firm hosts. Reach out to any attorneys at the firm that you know. If you don’t know any attorneys at the firm, ask the Career Services office at your school if there any recent alumni at the firm who they could introduce to you. You are much more likely to gain valuable, personalized information about the firm from these sources than what you will find on the firm’s website.
4. Have some questions ready to ask the interviewer.
Think about what is important for you in a job and ask about it! Are you looking for a job that will allow new associates to go to court right away? Ask about what type of work you will be doing as an associate at the firm! Are you interested to know about the work-life balance at the firm? Ask about the interviewer’s personal experiences! Are you potentially facing multiple offers and you aren’t sure which firm would be the best fit for you? Ask the interviewer what makes his or her firm different from others!
Failing to ask questions makes the interviewer think that you aren’t actually interested in THEIR firm; rather, you’ll take whatever job is handed to you first. That is not a great way to make a good impression at an on-campus interview. Asking thoughtful questions shows the interviewer that you are genuinely interested. Spend some time preparing a list of questions before OCIs so that they don’t catch you off guard when they ask if you have any questions!
5. Remember, the firm is investing in you: convince them you are a good investment!
A summer associate position is like a really long interview. The attorneys at the firm want to get to know you to see if you are a good fit for a permanent position at the firm. They likely will not be able to bill clients much for the work that you complete as a summer associate.
At your on-campus interview, you need to sell yourself and convince them why you are a good investment for the firm! Nearly every candidate will tell the interviewers that they are hard workers. You are in law school: they know you are a hard worker! Instead, prepare concrete examples of how you will add value to the firm: your unique skill sets or extraordinary business skills that will eventually help bring in business! Before your on-campus interview, think about how you will “sell” yourself and convince the interviewers that you are a good investment for the firm.