Hiring Squeeze

Originally appeared in the August 1999 issue of the ABA Journal.

Harmless Error - A Truly Minority View on the Law

Hiring Squeeze

BY ANDREW J. McCLURG

According to Kimm Walton’s popular book, Guerrilla Tactics For Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams, when legal interviewers ask tough questions like “What’s your greatest weakness?” it’s not so much because they want to know the answer as to test your ability to handle pressure. So avoid baring your soul with honest answers like “Life terrifies me” or “I hate the law.”

Walton wisely advises job applicants to prepare answers to tough questions in advance, but if she’s right about employers intentionally putting us on the spot, a more aggressive response may be in order. People are stressed out enough at job interviews. We don’t need interviewers trying to make us look bad. As Americans, we enjoy the basic, inalienable right to do that for ourselves.

Fight back! Try the brand new interviewing strategy designed with today’s pugnacious young lawyer in mind: Intimidation. Answer all tough questions with the goal of making the employer afraid NOT to hire you. For example, the next time a law firm asks, “Do you have what it takes to bring business into the firm?,” say, “Of course. It’s in the trunk of my car. Just tell me whose business you want.”

Here are some of the toughest legal job interview questions according to Guerrilla Tactics and some Gorilla Tactics for answering them:

Q. Tell us about yourself.

A. Which one. Fred’s been bad. He can’t come out today.

Q. Did you get into any other law schools?

A. Plenty. In fact, I got into every Ivy League school except Columbia. Now there’s a school that deserves its top ranking. It has the finest alarm system in the nation.

Q. What’s your greatest weakness?

A. An unquenchable thirst for vengeance. I’ve spent years in therapy battling it, but always end up trying to get even with my inner child.

Q. Where do you see yourself five years from now?

A. As a highly-paid member of your firm or possibly at the Super-Max Federal Correctional Facility in Colorado.

Q. What’s your greatest strength?

A. I can carry a rocket-propelled grenade launcher in one hand.

Q. Why didn’t you get an offer from your last employer?

A. I might have. It was hard to understand what he was yelling from behind the locked door.

Q. Why aren’t your grades better?

A. Because my professors, like most people around me, possibly including you, are engaged in a massive conspiracy to persecute me unjustly. I know because Hillary Clinton, who lives inside my head, told me so.

Q. Who else are you interviewing with?

A. I’ve been offered several jobs, but they’re not legal positions, at least not in this country.

Q. Why should we hire you?

A. Ha, ha. Don’t, and find out.

Obviously, this strategy is not for everyone. It’s only for the criminally insane. For everyone else, I suggest sticking with the advice in Guerrilla Tactics.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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