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Interviewing: Prepared and Confident


L e g a I S e a r c h & P I a c e m e n t

* 1100 Glendon Avenue Suite 1700 Los Angeles, CA 90024 *

* 310 278-6900 * *

How to Interview

This outline is divided into the following five sections:

  • Understanding the Interviewing Process
  • Preparing for the Interview
  • Can You Do the Job?
  • Do You Fit Into the Firm/Company?
  • Asking for the Job
  • Understanding the Interviewing Process

The decision to hire someone remains very subjective. Interviewers generally choose persons whom they “like.” In deciding whether they “like” you, your interviewers will be considering three things:

  • Can you do the job?
  • Do you fit in with the firm/company?
  • Are you motivated to do the job?

Normally, interviewers have a very short time in which to make these judgements and are careful to avoid making bad decisions. To assure success and assuage concerns, you must develop three strategies:

  • A strategy to be liked;
  • A strategy to meet all three primary concerns; and
  • A strategy to leave a very positive impression.

The following focuses on developing these strategies within the contest of your interviewer’s three hiring criteria.

  • Preparing for the Interview
  • Learn About the Firm/Company

First, find out as much as possible about the firm/company. At a minimum obtain the firm’s

Or company’s resume/website and speak with the headhunter.

  • Learn About Dealing With Different Personality Types

Be prepared to deal with all different personality types and styles. Read “You Just Don’t Understand” by Debra Tinnen. Although the book principally deals with problems men and women experience in communicating with each other, it presents an excellent insight into how to recognize, and be sensitive to a variety of personality types. For example, it discusses how to communicate effectively with highly-structured versus more free-flowing personality styles.

C. Prepare Answers on Key Questions

Be prepared to give specific examples reflecting how you:

1. take responsibility

2. act autonomously

3. keep superiors advised

  • ask for guidance or direction when needed
  • get desired results, and

6. possess other required, competencies (varies with each interviewer)

Your responses should be broken down into three parts:

P = Problem

A = Action you took

R = Result (positive) you obtained

For each of the five personal attributes be prepared to state a particular problem you had either at school or work associated with the attribute, the action you took to resolve the problem and the positive result that followed. You must put these to memory and be ready to present them at will.

D. Peak Emotional State of Being

Before each interview, you must place yourself in an emotional state of peak performance. Your emotions will dictate not only what you will say, but, more importantly, how you will say it. In the interview setting, form remains far more important than substance.

Emotions radiate through the body, determining how others perceive us. Happy and confident emotions evoke warmth, friendliness and confidence in others, while cold or conflicting emotions tend to confuse or turn people off‑ obviously when interviewing, you should be striving to elicit the former and actively seeking to avoid the latter.

This relationship between your emotional and attending physiological states necessitates that your emotions be genuine. You can't fake these emotions over the course of a long day of interviewing. If your body language doesn't belie you, and it will, fatigue certainly will.

One of the most effective methods of securing and maintaining a peak emotional state involves a process psychologist’s call "self‑conditioning." The idea is simple. By modulating thoughts and ideas, we effectuate or "condition" various emotional states of being.

Modulation may occur in one of two ways. The first involves the passive repetition of certain stimuli, a tactic perfected by advertisers. Advertisers identify an emotional feeling or state of being they believe members of their target audience seek to experience. Ad agencies articulate those feelings through visual and audio messages and then link those messages to a product. For example, Pepsi sought to increase Pepsi sales among teenagers. Through market analysis, it determined young people seek to feel sexy, charismatic and beautiful. Consequently, Pepsi made a commercial of Michael Jackson emoting those feelings. Running the advertisements over and over, the company successfully "conditioned" young viewers to associate Pepsi with strong feelings of sex, charisma and‑beauty.

The second method involves the active introduction of a single source of stimuli. We experience a subconscious form of this conditioning when we drive through a stoplight as it turns red. As we drive through, we experience a physiological sensation of blood running through our head coupled with intense feelings of apprehension and nervousness. These feelings usually derive from the fear and sense of danger we felt the first time we experienced one of our parents running a red light.

Through a process psychologists call "First Person Re­association"; this second form of conditioning can be harnessed to effectuate desired physiological feelings of happiness and confidence in an interview. This phenomenoninvolves drawing upon a prior event in which heightened feelings of euphoria and confidence were experienced, capturing those emotions, and then re-channeling them into the interview setting.

To do this, choose an event in your life in which, after achieving some feat, you experienced a euphoric feeling of success and confidence. Relive the experience, concentrating on what you saw, heard, felt, smelled and touched. Using these sensations, recapture the emotions you felt at the time. Take those emotions and intensify them as if turning‑up the volume on a stereo. Continually visualize these intensified feeling until they become perfectly crystallized in your mind.

Next, pick some small part of the memory that, when thought about, will recall those feelings. Psychologists call this triggering mechanism the "anchor trigger" and the resulting emotional state the "power anchor." Before each interview, go into a bathroom and trigger your power anchor. And if at any time during the interviews you sense a loss of control or empowerment, trigger it again.

By triggering your power anchor, you tap a deep well of positive and confident feelings so vital for a successful interview. Though it sounds like something out of EST, this method of conditioning positive emotions really works.

To appreciate its effectiveness, consider how one consultant uses it. This consultant spends a good portion of his year traveling across the country making presentations to various companies and organizations. Because of his hectic schedule, he sometimes finds himself exhausted before or during a presentation. Using the First Person Re‑association technique, he triggers a memory of an event in High School to rejuvenate him. The event involves a football game in which he caught the winning touchdown pass in the final seconds of the game. As his teammates carried him off the field to the roaring cheers of the crowd, he felt energy and confidence like in no other time in his life. He has captured and intensified these emotions and can recall them by thinking about the moment when he saw the ball coming over his left shoulder and thought, "there is no way I'm going to miss this ball." This image serves as his anchor trigger and whenever he feels tired and wants energy, he triggers it.

  • Prepare for Tough Questions

Tough questions are easy to handle. You need only do two things. First, identify the tough questions before interviewing. After identifying the questions, prepare a brief response that directly answers them. Then, immediately turn the course of the discussion back to the present moment, i.e. "That's why I'm here interviewing with your firm/company."

Often in answering tough questions, we fall into an emotional pit. There are two ways to avoid this. First, practice answering tough questions with a person who knows you well. Have the person concentrate not on the substance of your responses but your emotional state while giving them. Ask the person to focus on whether your answers leave him or her with pleasant, positive feelings or instill protracted, uneasy or weird feelings. Practice this until your friend indicates your responses appear natural.

The second method involves triggering your power anchor. If you face a tough question for which you have no response or that otherwise makes you feel uneasy, simply take a second to trigger your power anchor and then proceed to answer as best you can.

One cautionary note. Do not attempt to fake the power state. The state must be genuine. You must feel and believe the confidence to the depths of your soul.

Video taping practice answers can be extremely helpful in fully understanding how others perceive you. However, do not video‑tape an entire mock interview.

F. The Final Preparation

Before interviewing with a firm/company, visualize each step of the day. Anticipate precisely how you are going to feel, what will and could happen during the interview and any subsequent meals, and what you intend to say to whom. Remember, the goal of the interview is to be invited back

Also, remember not to put the firm/company or those with whom you will meet above you. You stand on even ground with them and should be interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. They will be trying very hard to put their best foot forward and you must do the same. Only after both sides have tried their hardest, can a determination be made concerning whether a good match exists.

Finally, prepare a mental checklist to review immediately before the interview. The list should include your anchor trigger and a reminder that you and the firm and those whom you will be meeting with stand on even ground.

III. Can You Do the Job?

The interviewer first seeks to determine whether you can do the job. You allay this concern by simply projecting confidence.

The firm/company would not have called you for the interview if they had any doubt about your abilities. Consequently, the firm/company seeks only to confirm what they already believe: that you are qualified to do the job. You confirm their belief by remaining confident during the interview. And, as discussed above, as long as you have properly triggered your power anchor, you will have no problem remaining confident. Remember this remains an area in which you need not convince them of anything, only confirm what they already believe.

IV. Do You Fit into the Firm/Company?

Next, the interviewers want to determine whether you will fit into the firm. This is a very subjective determination and based in large part on whether the interviewer has and is left with, a good feeling about you. You can insure leaving the interviewer feeling good about you by:

A. Creating Good Feelings During the Interview

B. Getting the Interviewer to Picture You Working in the Firm

C. Giving Verbal Expression of the Good Fit

A. Creating Good Feelings During the Interview

You create good feelings during an interview by doing three things. First, establish your power anchor. The most powerful method of expressing happiness and warmth exists through securing a high energy source of happiness and confidence within you.

Second, minimize the differences and maximize the similarities you have with the interviewer. People like others who are like themselves.' Be flexible in doing this. Be somewhat of a chameleon, but be absolutely sincere. Read "Instant Rapport”by Michael Brooks. The book deals with improving these skills and concentrates on how to develop symmetry with another person by mirroring that person's emotional and physiological state or style. Remember people generally feel good about people who resemble themselves.

Third, avoid raising negative feelings about anything. What ever you do, do not raise negative feelings in the interviewer. You want to anchor good, positive feelings in him or her. You can focus on positive feelings by asking specific questions concerning what he or she likes about the job, city, law school, practice area or whatever.

  • Getting the Interviewer to Picture You Working in the Firm/Company

During the course of the interview, you want the interviewer to develop a mental picture of you working in the firm. Psychologists call this "Future Pacing," and, apparently, it is an extremely powerful tool. Advertisers use this trick to sell perfume by inserting scented samples in magazines and homes by showing them complete with furniture, plants, flowers and place settings on the dining room table.

To use this in the interviewing context, you need only do two things. First, find out specifically what the interviewer seeks in a candidate. Do this by taking control of the interview early on. Sometime in the first five minutes ask the interviewer whether he or she would mind.

if you asked some questions. Then ask, "What is important to you about the person you are looking to hire for this position." And also ask, "Assuming you (or the firm/company) hired me,

what do you see me doing?" By using the verb "see", you subconsciously place a visual and auditory message in the interviewer's mind of you working there.

These questions should be non‑directional; meaning‑the interviewer should be afforded the opportunity to state whatever is important to him or her absent any specific preconceived parameters. In asking these questions, you must remain "other ­person centered," which means focused on the interviewer's world, not your own. What is important to him or her must become important to you.

Moreover, you must remain completely objective and absolutely sincere in making this transition. Do not value judge what the interviewer holds as important, simply accept it. Only if what he or she says strikes you as so offensive or unappealing, which it won't because remember, the firm/company is also trying to sell you, should you not follow these steps. Should this occur, and it won't, leave the interview, because the firm will never hire you and you would never want to work there.

Remember, you want to find out exactly what the interviewer likes, wants and seeks in a person. Ask appropriate follow‑up questions until you have a very good sense of those things that are important to the interviewer.* Although each interviewer will value criteria differently, you will discover that most responses fall within a common pool of personal attributes for which you have anticipated and prepared answers complete with examples.

The second step consists of convincing the interviewer that you meet each of his or her criteria. Do this by first making a simple statement affirming the attribute. For example, "Assuming responsibility is something I'm looking for in a position with your firm/company." Then, proceed to give an example of a positive result‑achieved through use of that attribute.

C. Give Verbal Expression of Good Fit

After going over each of the interviewer's points of importance, say "John, the more I think about your criteria and what I can do for you and your firm, I really think we have a good match." In saying this, you must be genuine. If you aren't, it will come across as contrived and calculated or simply weird. Nor should you come across heavy‑handed. This should be practiced extensively before actually used.

V. Asking for the Job

Close the interview by saying, "I really enjoyed meeting you. I think we have a good fit and I'm very excited about the opportunities at the firm/company. What’s the next step?”

At this point, you should be thinking in your mind that it's a done deal ‑‑ that they would be crazy not to hire you. Ultimately, the depth of your interviewers' feelings that you are the right person will decide whether you get an offer. You bear the responsibility of pushing the interviewer across the line into believing the job is yours.

* One way to approach this is to pretend you have already been hired and are asking your former interviewers what they were looking for, including particular attributes.

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