Monday, January 31, 2005

The Anti-Interview: 10 Things Every Lawyer Should Know About Job Interviews

by Sassy Esquire

Ok - so seriously this time....I just got back from the funniest job interview in history. Here is a brief recap, and I encourage all of you to learn from the Crypt Keeper (i.e. me). Oh, and for you lawyers out there, "The Crypt" is my inventive nod to "The Vault" all know what I am talking about.

The following is based on an actual interview that I just got out of and I will admit that I had a couple of vodka cocktails before I went to it…..hey, judge not, fear not:

Managing Partner: Well, hello....[pretends to look at email print out of my resume]...Joanne.

Sassy: Hi there. Call me Jo. [extending hand for firm handshake] Nice to meet you, Malcolm. (Wha..wha…what???? Calling this Managing Partner by his FIRST NAME?!!! I bet he orders me outta here! Seriously, folk(s), don't try this at home!)

MP: Ahem. So tell me [assumes his "aggressive, cross-examination tone"] what made you leave the "big guys"?

Sassy: Well, my first ex-husband, Charles, isn’t really that big. He’s only 5’7. And while second ex-husband, Norman, is 5’10" , he is small in other areas….Oh wait, you mean the "big guys" as in the "big law firms", right?

(Ok – that part didn’t happen. I will only tell the actual events from here on, I promise.)

Sassy: Well, I left [insert name of big law firm here] because of personality conflicts and diminished expectations regarding flexibility. [Here I give a big sigh and not-so-subtle glance at watch].

MP: Hmmmm……What are your expectations regarding flexibility?

Sassy: Well, from now on, I am only working the hours I want, when I want, where I want, and on what I want.

[crickets chirping in the background]

MP: Umm….we are looking for a full time associate here. Someone to work long hours. Someone to work hard. (Yep. That’s really what he said. Way to advertise the position, Malcolm).

Sassy: Oh. Right. Well then, I am not interested.

[more crickets chirping in the background]

MP: So what kind of salary are you looking for?

(Alright, that is really, really what he said next ……Didn’t I just say I am not interested?? Maybe I misspoke?)

Sassy: Um…..well…..if I were going to be working full time, I would expect at least $125,000. However, as I am not interested in a full time position, I would accept $65,000 to work on my terms and my selected projects.

MP: [writes this information down as though he might need it later] Right. And, well, do you have any questions about us?

Sassy: Nope.

MP: Cuz let me tell you….we are a growing firm. We are going to be opening an office downtown Fort Lauderdale soon, next to the federal courthouse.

Sassy: Didn’t I just read that they are closing the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale?

MP: [insert lame discussion about politics and security and infrastructure, etc. here. This bullsh*t lasts about 20 minutes during which I am smiling and nodding in the most condescending fashion possible]

Sassy: Yeah. So really, you won’t be next to the federal courthouse….

[more crickets chirping in the background]

Sassy: Yep cabbage.

MP: [quizzical look….clearly he is not a J-Jive speaker] So um, well….no questions?

Sassy: Nah. Your website pretty much told me all I need to know.

(Ok – and I am TOTALLY not bullsh*tting here, this is what he says, as if by way of apology…)

MP: Well, we will be updating our website soon.

Sassy: Good for you. You should.

MP: So, I want to introduce you to the partners.

Sassy: Really???

(And then, one of the other partners walks in and tells him they have an emergency teleconference. Malcolm asks me if I can hang out for a few minutes and I say OK and he leaves me in his office, telling me to make myself ‘at home’ to which I respond, "But not too much at home, right?")

Random Secretary, fifteen minutes later: Um…can I get you a coffee or a soda or something?

Sassy: Nah. I’m good.

Secretary, I mean: "Executive Assistant": Cuz, I can’t believe he has left you here for so long. Are you sure you don’t want something?

Sassy: Nah. I’m just here learning all about Malcolm.

EA: Really? What have you learned?

Sassy: Well, I know he likes trains and hot pepper sauce and doesn’t change his clocks when it’s Daylight Savings Time.

EA: DAMN GIRL! You are perceptive!

Sassy: Yeah. You take your chances when you leave me alone in your office for almost 20 minutes.

(Then the EA proceeds to spend the next 10 minutes hanging out with me in Malcolm’s office, explaining each of his nick nacks to me…..)

EA: ...And this one I gave him because he fiddles with his hands during teleconferences but then I realized that listening to him play with this slinky isn’t much fun either. I mean, do you even know what that ‘thwink thwink thwink’ sounds like after 15 minutes?

Sassy: Yeah. That’s annoying.

EA: You really are perceptive! And then I gave him this one – I’ve been with him for 19 years – as a relaxation thing. Guess where I got it? Sears!

Sassy: Wow. I would have thought Sharper Image but now I see the quality is far more………

[Insert more utter drib drab 'til Malcolm, the Managing Partner, comes back]

Malcolm, the Managing Partner: So. We are ready for you.

Sassy: Yeah?

Malcolm: Thanks for waiting.

Sassy: No prob.

[Ushered into another partner’s office, after almost teary good-byes from the Executive Assistant, and….]

Next Partner: So what are you looking for?

Sassy: [signaling over shoulder] Well, as I told Malcolm earlier today, I mean, I think that was today [Malcolm chuckles politely and goes red]….I am NOT looking for a full time position, I don’t want to be partner in your firm, and I don’t want to work the hours you tell me.

(Then Malcolm offers his apologies because he has a "thing" he has to take care of and so he will have to leave while the Next Partner continues the interview. His parting words are…"Elizabeth, make sure you get a writing sample from her." Jeez…I could have sworn I said I wasn’t interested in the position.)

Next Partner: Uh huh. So you just want to do your job and be left alone? You’ve got an attitude problem.

Sassy: So I’ve been told. Any more questions?

Next Partner: Can we get a writing sample?

And really, the rest of the story isn’t worth telling because it is an insult to chimpanzees everywhere, especially those fine actors who should have been nominated for Oscars after their performance in 2001: Space Odyssey. Seriously. I am almost ashamed.


Anyway, that’s how the interview went. It ended with me being told that they had to discuss it but they thought it could work…..What? What could work? I don’t get it. I thought I said I didn’t want the job!!

I’ll keep you posted.

But for now – here are your Top Ten Interview Tips from the Crypt:

1. Have two vodka drinks before you go (or three, if you are hung over).

2. Don’t take a briefcase, or purse, or writing sample….walk in empty-handed.

3. When they ask you if you brought a copy of your resume, say "Nope – I believe in saving trees." That befuddles them for some reason.

4. When they tell you what they are looking for in an associate, nod politely and then say, "Oh. Well, then I am not interested."

5. Look around their offices and notice that, while trying to feed their egos, they have actually put on display a lot of info about their sad, pathetic, personal lives (or lack there of). I mean, really…. Trains? And hot sauce? …. Use this information to gain the upper hand psychologically…it’s way better than imagining them naked.

6. Bearing in mind #5, tell the interviewer that from now on he should consider conducting interviews in a conference room.

7. When the Next Partner tells you what they are looking for, again, nod politely and then say, "Oh. Well, as I told the First Partner, I am not interested."

8. When told that associates aren’t expected to work more than 40 hours a week, laugh loudly, then stop abruptly.

9. During the interview, text message your boyfriend from your cell phone. If possible, have your cell phone ring during the interview and when it does, hold up your index finger to the partner and say, "’Scuse me. I’ve got to take this." Then tell the caller, "Yeah. I plan to blow this joint in a minute."

10. At the end of the interview, when you have fully wowed them, stand up and start to leave. Then turn back and say, "Wait a sec. Do you guys require drug tests?" Don’t wait for an answer. Just continue leaving.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Remember – I didn’t necessarily get the job. I don’t think I did, anyway. Maybe I will send them that writing sample after all…..

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