How to ace your OCI interviews

By Alison Monahan


Although summer has officially begun, there is not much of a break – especially for recent 1Ls. If you’re a rising 2L, you’re probably a few weeks into your first legal job and working hard to get up to speed. And, with the recruiting calendar being condensed and moved up continually, it’s already time to start thinking about the all-important 2L summer job and your future post-grad employment. The process of on-campus interviewing (OCI) is likely new to you, but we have five tips to help you get a leg up and, hopefully, take some of the stress out of this process.


    1.  Stay organized


Between deciding which firms to bid on and staying on top of the interviews you do receive, you’ll need to keep track of a lot of information. It’s important to know where the firms have offices, how big they are, which areas of law they practice and what cases they’ve recently worked on, not to mention the names of your interviewers. I’d suggest using an Excel chart, an app or program like Trello, or even flash cards to keep track of the information. You want to make sure you are not mixing up firms.


    2. Figure out what to wear and bring 


While the substance of your credentials, grades, and experience is certainly at the heart of what you’ll be evaluated on in interviews, how you present yourself is also important and will be noticed. During OCI, you should be dressed in business attire for all interviews, both on campus during the screening process and for all callbacks. You can show some personality (maybe with a color or subtle pattern on your tie or shirt under your suit), but you want to try not to stand out for how you are dressed. This includes jewelry, fragrance, and shoes as well. Be sure everything is neat and clean and that you’re comfortable as you will probably be doing a lot of walking. For a bag, purse, or portfolio, I’d suggest something that is just big enough to fit everything (no folded resumes) but not bulky or awkward to carry around. résumé. 


     3.  Know your résumé


This may seem obvious, but you should know everything that is on your résumé. You can be asked about any of it, and some interviewers may not ask you as many substantive questions and may instead decide to focus on your hobbies (or a paper or class you mention from undergrad). If you haven’t looked carefully at some of the older activities on your résumé, it’s a good idea to review them. Note that if you put a language on your résumé, you need to actually be at the level you claim! Someone may even decide to conduct the interview in that language. For this reason, I’d suggest not including a language unless you are essentially fluent.


     4.   Have questions prepared


You probably know that at the end of most interviews, you’ll be asked if you have any questions. Whether or not they’ve already been answered by a previous interviewer, you should always have some to ask. It’s a good idea to prepare quite a few questions so that you can use different ones for different interviews (and that they fit in at the right time). Also, use good judgment when deciding when to use specific questions. If it’s a screening interview, it’s probably not a good time to ask about work-life balance (save that for after you’ve received an offer). Some safe topics could be about what a typical day is like for that attorney, practice group info, or even a recent case the firm worked on that was in the news.



      5.   The lunch interview


After you’ve made it past the screening interview on campus, the next step is a callback at the firm’s office, and, most likely, there will be a lunch interview after a series of interviews in the office. Often lunch will be with two fairly junior associates. While it may seem like a treat to go to a fancy lunch and chat with some attorneys around your level, do keep in mind this is still an interview. You are not out to lunch with friends. You should remain professional and not say anything you would not say in an in-office interview. You should never order alcohol (even if your interviewer does). Try to pick a menu item that is not messy and is easy to eat. While I’m not suggesting you need to be especially nervous for the lunch interview, I’ve seen situations where students let their guard down too much, so it’s just important to remember you are still on an interview.

The process of interviewing for your 2L summer job can be stressful and rigorous. It also takes place directly after your 1L summer job (or even while you are still working), so there’s no real break to relax before you jump into it. However, with some planning and preparation, you can go into the OCI season with the right mindset and find a job that is a great fit. Good luck!


Alison Monahan is the founder of The Girl’s Guide to Law School®, which is a leading resource for women (and some men) embarking on a legal career. Alison is also a co-founder of the Law School Toolbox® and Bar Exam Toolbox® which provide free resources, tutoring and a variety of courses and tools to help law students and bar exam takers succeed with less stress and anxiety.