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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Four Ways to Stand Out in an Interview


By Sara Ayazi, BASF Bulletin Contributor

You got an interview for your dream job at a prestigious law firm. Congratulations! Before you set foot in the door, read these tips to help you stand out:

Do your homework

Conduct research on the employer prior to the interview. Reviewing the firm’s website is helpful, but it is not enough. Performing an online search of the employer is an excellent way to learn more about the organization. Review the LinkedIn profiles of your interviewers, and read any articles they have written. Other ways to learn more about the firm is to research cases that the firm has litigated, read press releases about the firm, and find out about the firm’s philanthropic efforts. Researching the organization will help you avoid asking questions that can easily be answered on the firm’s website, and show your interest in the position.

Get “Insider Information”

In preparing for the interview, determine if you have any connections to the firm. If so, contact that person prior to the interview and ask questions about the organization and the position. She will most likely be able to give you information that cannot be obtained from the job description or the firm’s website.

Ask Questions

Be sure to ask questions during the interview. Not asking questions can make you look uninterested in the position and jeopardize your chances of receiving a job offer. Ask the interviewers specific questions about the job, the firm, and the timeline for hiring.

Brianne Gagnon, who has eight years of law firm recruiting experience, has found that the types of questions you ask say a lot about you. “Thoughtful questions will show an employer how serious and committed you are to the job you are applying for,” she observed.

Be Thankful

It is not enough to verbally thank the interviewers for their time at the conclusion of the interview. You must send a thank you note to each person with whom you interviewed.

The thank you note is just as much a part of the interview process as the interview itself. Do not be sloppy! Ms. Gagnon recalled an incident when an applicant was eliminated from the applicant pool after misspelling the name of the employer in a thank you note.

There is a debate whether to thank the interviewers by email or a handwritten note. Unless the employer is making a quick hiring decision, send a handwritten note. It is rare these days for people to get handwritten notes, and emails can easily be deleted or caught in a spam filter.

A handwritten thank you note requires more thought, preparation, and will have a long lasting impact.


Sara Ayazi relocated to San Francisco after working as an attorney for the University of Connecticut. She received her law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

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