The Nuts & Bolts of Recruitment

Happy Thursday!

I am aware that it is Tuesdays with Tali on Thursday (confusing) but it is my last day of the summer tomorrow and I had to get at least one more Tuesdays in!

So, recruitment is around the corner. I am sure some of you are nervous, some more confident than others, and then there are probably the majority of you who are just generally confused about what is about to happen. Since I recall that confusion very well, I thought I would give you some nuts and bolts of recruitment for each stage along the way.

The Nuts & Bolts of Applications:

  • RESEARCH. It is never a bad idea to visit firm websites and see what they say about applications. Some give you explicit guidance (i.e. provide a letter of reference, or not), while others don’t really touch on it. Chances are that the director of recruitment at that respective firm wrote that part of the website, and reading their advice allows you to tailor your application to suit their preferences. Also, try to talk to as many people as possible about recruitment. Get your hands on example cover letters, and follow the very wise cover letter advice from Chris H. (See below).
  • PROOFREAD. Try to put yourself in the position of a recruiter. Poor Leigh-Ann has to read nearly a thousand applications. Don’t give her a reason to look twice at yours because you wrote “Dear Leanne”! 🙂
  • Again, for more on content, you all should read the wonderful blog by Chris H. below.

The Nuts & Bolts of On-Campus Interviews (“OCI”s):

  • SCHEDULE WISELY. Even if you get OCIs for all 30 firms that you applied to, think about whether or not you want to take all of them. This is a tough call and it really depends on your situation. It is a fine balance. You know yourself best, so think about how many interviews you think you can do well. Push yourself a bit, but I would suggest that you try not to overkill. Back to back straight interviews for two days is probably not going to allow you to shine like you should (and could).
  • PRACTICE. So, here is where I confess. I actually spoke to myself in the mirror (don’t make fun). I found it helpful to see if I had any weird habits when I spoke naturally. Although it was incredibly awkward when my sister found me interviewing myself in the mirror, it actually helped me to talk out some of my resume points. Know your resume inside and out, and try to think of a good story you can tell for each point. As Chris H. mentioned below, recruiters really love talking about your interests. So, be honest about your interests, and try to have some good stories.
  • DON’T PANIC. Breathe! Oxygen is helpful. 🙂
  • SAY YOUR THANKS. This is one of those unwritten rules that only the lucky ones hear about. Make sure to write out thank you e-mails to each interviewer you met with (the evening of the interview is a good time to write). It can be brief, but try to say something that will help the recruiter remember who you are. Try to remember that they have had an even longer day than you. They also need some help, so try to give them a hint or two as to what you discussed. An example: “Hi Leigh-Ann, I just wanted to say thank you for meeting with me today. I really enjoyed our talk about the food in Spain! I hope the rest of your day went well, and I would love the opportunity to meet more people from Cassels in the near future. Take care, Tali”. Something along those lines….and even though you will be exhausted when you sit down to write these e-mails, proofread, proofread, proofread.

The Nuts & Bolts of Call Day:

  • So, you survived the first two “screens”. Congrats! Time to reboot and get ready for stage three. There will be a designated call day where firms will call you bright and early to schedule an in-firm interview. Most often, firms will send out e-mails in the few days before hand to let you know that they will be calling. This is helpful because you not only know what to expect, but you also can develop a rough plan for your schedule on the three days of in-firms. Make sure to do this. It requires that you think of which firms you like most/least, and it is crucial.
  • Generally, the Monday of in-firms will be your busiest day, followed by mostly second round interviews on Tuesday, and potentially second and third round interviews on Wednesday. Typically, you want your first choice firm(s) as early as possible on Monday. Some people like to schedule a ‘buffer’ 8 a.m. interview as a warm up. This means that they will schedule a firm they are not so crazy about so that if they screw up their first interview, it doesn’t really matter. But, if I’m being honest, I think it’s a waste. Just try to bite the bullet. Go in strong at 8 a.m. because it is PRIME real estate. 🙂
  • SCHEDULE WISELY. As I mentioned, it is not a bad idea to think about which firms you really like before call day. Try to schedule those firms early on Monday so that the recruiters know that you are very interested in them. Of course, people have gotten hired at firms they only saw for the first time on Tuesday, but I would say the norm is to schedule your top choices on Monday. As for quantity- don’t overdo it. Four interviews on Monday is plenty because you will probably be asked at some point to go to a (or many) cocktail parties, and perhaps a dinner (don’t freak out if you don’t get a dinner invite….it’s really ok!). You still have two more days to plow through after Monday, so you want to be smart about your schedule.
  • SET TWO ALARMS. Yes, I know of someone who slept through their calls. Big problem! This is one thing I would say to worry about. You definitely want to be up in time for the calls to come in! Keep in mind, even though firms are only supposed to call after 8:00 am (if I recall correctly), there will be a few that cheat and call early. If you are still groggy and unprepared, it might startle you. Wake up a bit early, set out your schedule and be prepared. Firms will call you literally at once (the whole thing is over in about 10 minutes), and you have to find a balance of scheduling the firms in the times you want them. If you can’t fit one in on Monday because they are ‘full’, ask them if they would be willing to do a Monday lunch interview. I didn’t do that, but I heard that some people did and it worked out for them.

The Nuts & Bolts of In-Firm Interviews:

  • Congrats…you’ve now made it to the final stage of recruitment!
  • WALK YOUR ROUTE ON THE WEEKEND BEFORE. I was warned hundreds of times not to be late to a single interview, so in my paranoid state, I practiced my walk. I found it very helpful because I had a visual map of where I was, and where I needed to be next. I dragged my fiance with me and we made a Saturday afternoon day trip out of it. I also tried to navigate the elevators. A lot of the elevators down here are segmented into complicated two-floor systems with access to only odd or even floors. You don’t want to be flustered figuring out which elevator to get on! Keep in mind that the underground path can be confusing. I would only suggest it if you are comfortable with it. I went above ground because that’s where I walked my route.
  • BREATHE & EAT. I’m a foody. I needed to know what I was going to have for lunch so I broughts snacks, but also picked a place (on that prior Saturday adventure) for a sit down lunch. I ate some pasta (which some people might say makes you tired, but it’s my comfort and energy food, so I did it!), and I had a moment to breathe before my afternoon interviews. For me, it was my saving grace.
  • LADIES- SMART SHOES! I heard this a lot before the process, but it really is true. You are no good if your feet are burning off of your body! I went and specifically bought a more comfortable, yet nice, pair of low heels and I was fine (minus a few bandaids). You will be standing a lot and walking around (cocktail parties, getting from A to B etc.). Make sure you allow yourself to be comfortable. If you are in pain, it will probably show on your face, and in my experience, that’s not so helpful when you are trying to make an impression!
  • THEY ARE PEOPLE TOO. Try to remember that these scary interviewers are just normal (very smart and motivated) people. They have taken some time out of their normal schedules to sit down and see what you are all about. I viewed my interviews as conversations and to be honest, I enjoyed most of my interviews that day. You will probably want to think of a few good questions (hard to do, I know) for when they inevitably ask you if you have any. Saying that you don’t have any questions might not be the best call because there has to be something about this firm that you don’t know about. I always tried to ask about the interviewer’s own personal experience. I genuinely wanted to know how that person got to be where they are today, and what made them select that particular firm.
  • EXPRESS INTEREST. I would say that if you are very interested in a firm, be sure to make that known. Do not tell more than one firm that they are your top choice, but don’t be shy about expressing interest and asking to meet more people at the firm.

Call Day #2….

  • So, you are at the end and it is finally 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday. To be honest, by this point, you probably will have a good idea of which firms might call. There really is no advice that I can give for this part of recruitment….but I wish you all well!

Although I certainly don’t hold myself out to be an expert, the above points were really what helped me get through. Keep asking around. Talk to anyone you know who has been through this lovely process, and just ask as many questions as you can over and over again. Soon enough, you will start to feel more comfortable with the recruitment stages, and if you are comfortable, you will probably be yourself and end up in a better place.

Good luck to all of you! My apologies for the essay….I hope it helps at least in some way.

Lastly, to all of my devoted Tuesdays with Tali readers (if you exist), it has been a pleasure blogging this summer!

With love,


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