You have a legal job interview and are wondering how best to prepare for it. Regarding your appearance, dress conservatively. With few exceptions, you should wear a suit to a law job interview. It’s typically better to be overdressed than underdressed on such an occasion.
There are, however, a couple of exceptions. If you’re interviewing at a very informal non-profit, you may not want to wear a suit. Try to investigate in advance, or ask the person setting up the interview about the dress code, if that seems appropriate. Similarly, if you’re interviewing at a tech startup, you may not want to be a “suit.” There’s a known bias in Silicon Valley against dressing up, so plan accordingly.
How to Dress for the Legal Job Interview
Assuming you’re not in one of those rare situations, you should wear a formal suit to a law job interview. Here are some tips.
Make Sure Everything Fits Properly
Get the basics right. Make sure your clothing is not too tight or too loose, or too long or too short. For women, if you are wearing a skirt, check skirt length carefully, and ensure there’s no excessive “button gap” on button-down shirts. If you clothing needs alterations, enlist a tailor or ask for assistance in a store. These people are trained to make your clothes fit.
Pay Attention to Local Customs
Interview style varies throughout the country. If you’re a law student from Alabama interviewing in New York City, it’s worth enlisting some allies to help you figure out how styles differ in the Big Apple. In some areas, only a skirt suit is considered typical, while in others, pants are fine. There’s no one “right” answer, but you need to know what’s customary.
Get Rid of Clothing Wrinkles
You can have the nicest interview outfit in the world, but it’s going to look sloppy if it’s full of wrinkles. Especially if you’re traveling to interviews, consider how you’re going to keep everything clean and pressed. Is there a hotel iron or a dry cleaning service? With some thought and preparation, you can have cleanly pressed clothes the morning of that important interview.
Buy Decent Shoes
Shoes are an important part of your interview outfit. At a minimum, shoes should match your outfit and be just as conservative. Shoes made of leather or faux leather is a good choice.
What to Bring to a Legal Job Interview
Once you’re appropriately attired, it’s time to think about what to bring. A nice portfolio is useful for carrying copies of all application documents, such as a resume, writing samples, and any notable past and present work. Remember to bring copies of these documents, as your interviewer may want to keep them.
Also bring any personal care items you might need, such as mints, a toothbrush, extra hosiery, and makeup. Don't forget directions, including parking locations, if you’re driving. Also be sure to turn off your phone before the interview.
Being prepared is the first step to mastering a legal job interview. Dress professionally, bring the proper documentation, and arrive on time.