Early Interview Week brings together students and employers with impressive results

To the uninitiated, Early Interview Week (EIW) sounds as hectic as Black Friday: NYU Law students racing from interview to interview—the average 2L has 21 meetings—with top law firms, crammed into three days at the DoubleTree in Times Square. Each time the elevator doors slide open, an army of sharply dressed future attorneys marches out, bewildering the occasional tourist heading downstairs to the TKTS booth.

Early Interview WeekWander the halls, and you’ll find students perched quietly on small folding chairs outside closed doors, poring over their copious notes or tapping away on their laptops to get in one more research session before their 20-minute interviews begin. One young man paces, awaiting his moment.

This year, more than 360 employers conducted more than 9,600 interviews with almost 500 students, all in the timespan of a long weekend. Intense? Perhaps. But it works. Last year, 82 percent of participants received offers directly out of EIW, with more following later on. Multiple offers are common.

Carren Shulman ’91, a partner at Sheppard Mullin and president of NYU’s Law Alumni Association, recalls her own EIW experience as being more sedate. After speaking with six firms, she landed a summer job. Now she's back to hire students.

“They’re meeting with so many people,” Shulman says. “I don’t know how they keep it straight.” Nonetheless, she adds, “Every student knew about the firm and the program, and their questions were geared towards something that I said or something in our materials. I really felt like my time there was not wasted for a minute. Everyone was really on their game.”

The Law School’s Office of Career Services (OCS), headed by Associate Dean Irene Dorzback, plays a key role in helping the students shine. Wendy Siegel and Cassandre Stump, the office’s director and associate director, respectively, of recruitment and marketing, direct the rest of the staff in organizing the high-volume, high-stakes event. The preparation began in April with almost 400 mock interviews followed by critiques. Students also could submit draft lists of desired employers for counselor input. Close to 350 practice interviews with alumni, an interview workshop, and a comprehensive handbook gave interviewees a further edge.

Dorzback’s entire office staffs EIW, bringing every possible resource for the participants. Even after the event, OCS actively advocates for students during the nerve-wracking callback process. Their efforts, Dorzback explains, help not only students but employers as well. “If it’s the right fit,” she says, “everyone is happy.”

In the student lounge set up in the hotel, 2Ls and 3Ls confer among themselves or take advantage of the firm-sponsored wi-fi to get ready for their next interview. The room is surprisingly calm, and not entirely because of the pile of DoubleTree cookies.

“It’s very collegial,” says Alexandra Zetes ’16, in the midst of 25 interviews total. “I thought it would be a lot more stressful than it is.” But seeing familiar classmates in the hallway—and getting helpful pointers from those who’ve already spoken with particular firms—make the process friendlier, she adds.

Students often say that the first few interviews allow them to work off their jitters and get into the zone, revealing a counterintuitive benefit of the intense schedule. “You learn from earlier interviews so that you can give better answers,” explains Umer Ali ’16. “Once you get over the initial stress, you’re just talking to accomplished and interesting people.”

As an employer, Robert Scher, for one, is more than pleased. A partner at Foley & Lardner as well as head of hiring for the firm, Scher has a longstanding association with EIW and Dorzback’s office.

“We go to a lot of schools, and NYU is at the top of the heap,” says Scher. “They’re fantastic. They look out for their students, they make sure their students are well prepared, and they’re a great resource for us also…. We think very highly of them, we depend on them, and we appreciate everything they do for us.”

Posted August 20, 2014