Applying for jobs as a law student can be stressful. There are resumes to review and countless cover letters to write—and if you’re participating in the 2L summer student recruit, you might also be thinking about on-campus interviews.
On-campus interviews, or OCIs, are a type of interview permitted during the annual summer student recruitment process (the “Recruit”). OCIs typically take place at a law school or at a location determined by a law school, but can also take place remotely via teleconference or videoconference. Each law school is responsible for organizing its OCIs.
OCIs are scheduled during the fall semester of 2L. Each year, the LSO mandates a period of Recruitment Suspension during which all recruitment activities are suspended. During this time, however, employers participating in the Recruit are permitted to hold OCIs. Law schools coordinate with employers in different regions and schedule OCIs. The exact dates vary each year, but they must be held prior to Call Day and Interview Week. Law schools will typically allocate one or two days for OCIs and will provide students with a schedule for interviews they have accepted. This means that students with multiple OCIs may be interviewing with several employers back-to-back.
Most importantly, OCIs are brief. Each OCI cannot last longer than 20 minutes. This means a short timeframe within which to make a good impression. Although this may seem daunting, the right preparation can help you stand out and alleviate stress.
Preparing for On-Campus Interviews
1. Be Reasonable When Accepting OCI Offers
It may be tempting to accept all OCI offers that you receive, but make sure you don’t stretch yourself too thin. Try to identify the number of interviews that will allow you to perform to your best ability without becoming exhausted through the day.
2. Do Your Research
Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the employers and interviewers you will meet during OCIs. You want to have a good understanding of the work they do as well as their organizational culture. Some law firms may also provide useful resources, such as advice from current summer students and guides on the interview process. Your focus should be identifying the qualities of each employer that drive your interest in working with them.
3. Review Your Application Materials
Take some time to review your resume and cover letters. Reflect on the experiences you’ve had that not only make you a good candidate for the employer, but also might set you apart from others. Since each OCI is only 20 minutes, identify key points in your resume that speak to your relevant skills and qualities. The OCI is your opportunity to market yourself as a promising summer student.
4. Make Time to Practise
Since the 20-minute interview format can be new for many law students, it’s important to practise before OCIs. You can review your answers to general questions orally or by conducting mock interviews with friends. The Career Development Office at your law school may also conduct mock interviews and provide feedback to help you get a better sense of how to put your best foot forward on the day of the interview. Ideally, you want to be able to answer questions with clarity and brevity without rushing through the interview. Practice is important to help you feel more comfortable and confident.
5. Make Time for Yourself
In the days leading up to OCIs, make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and prioritizing your mental health. You want to ensure that you have enough energy and stamina to perform during the interviews, and maintaining a steady routine can help reduce stress and anxiety.
6. Be Prepared for the Unexpected
While it’s important to be well-prepared for each OCI, it is also important to be prepared for the unexpected. You might show up to an interview and be facing different interviewers, different questions, or a different conversation than you expected. Adapting to the flow of each interview will allow you to stay confident even if things don’t go as planned.
After On-Campus Interviews
After OCIs, unless otherwise noted by the employer, it is courteous to send a thank you email to your interviewers. You can do this later the same day or the following day. Then, over the next few weeks, employers may email you to confirm that they will be calling you on Call Day for a formal interview during Interview Week.
In the journey of 2L on-campus interviews in Ontario, preparation is the key to success. Keep your expectations reasonable, research your potential employers, and fine-tune your application materials. Practice, self-care, and adaptability are your allies. After the interviews, don't forget to express gratitude. Your well-prepared approach will pave the way for a successful legal career. Good luck!