Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Five years ago today, I was a senior in college and sending out cover letters for jobs at consulting firms. I'm glad none of them wanted to hire me.

I just happened to come across the files when I was looking for something else (a song parody I was thinking of for this year's law school parody show reminded me of a song I'd written in college, and I wanted to find the lyrics -- they were less witty than I recalled them being...). I interviewed with eight or nine consulting firms senior year, and didn't get any callbacks. Probably because I didn't really know what consultants did, didn't smile wide enough when they asked me how I enjoy traveling, and hadn't practiced any "case interviews." My worst interview moment (or, some might say, my best), was when a recruiter at one firm asked me what I would do if I faced a problem I was having trouble solving. I told her that I would try my best, ask for help, but if I was spending more time on it than it was worth, and someone else would be better equipped to approach it, I'd probably see if they wanted to handle it. "So you'd give up?" she asked. "If I didn't think it made sense for me to continue -- if I'd tried everything I could think of and wasn't getting anywhere -- then, yeah, I'd give up," I replied. "Consultants never give up," she said, and ended the interview. I'm still not sure my answer was so terrible.

It's not completely true that that's my worst interview moment. I've had two worse, both from 1L year here. One was an in-person interview with a public interest organization. I'd signed up for an interview, under the impression they were a clearinghouse for public interest jobs, and would try to match me with groups they worked with who would actually interview me for jobs. I'm not completely sure where I got this impression -- it must have been their name, but I can't remember what their name was -- but it was wrong. And so I showed up, having done no research as to what they themselves did, and was blindsided by the first question, not really meant to be a tricky one, "What do you know about us?" "Uh... nothing? You place people in public interest jobs, no?" "Uh, not really. We do public interest work in a variety of areas, in a number of places around the country. Where are you looking to work?" "New York?" "Okay... where else?" "DC?" "We don't have an office in DC." "Oh." It just went downhill from there. Not pretty.

But my worst was a phone interview 1L year with someone at the Department of Justice, Immigration Division. It was going fine, until he asked what I'm now guessing was a question he didn't actually want an answer to, but was just trying to be cute. Maybe. "I see on your resume you write songs. How does writing songs related to your interest in the immigration division?" On the phone, it's hard to pick up cues as to whether this guy was really asking me a question or not. My mind raced, and I came up with what might the stupidest answer ever uttered in an interview for anything. Ever. "Well," I said, "music can make people feel better, and so can the immigration division, by, uh, not deporting someone."

And yet I somehow managed to find a job after college, and I somehow managed to find a summer job after 1L year, and I somehow managed to survive the law firm recruiting process 2L year and get a summer job. Is it any wonder, though, that job interviews are not my favorite thing in the world?