Client Interviews: A Desired First Impression

After a multi-step strategic planning process that may have, at times, felt tedious and challenging… the big day has finally arrived. It is time to conduct the interview with your client.

(In case you haven’t caught our preview posts, you do a quick review.)

Congratulations on your forward progress and success thus far!  It’s now time to nail the interview. And it all starts with the first impression. As is the case in any standard interview situation, the first impression is key. Considerations include:

  • Attire: Is the company formal or casual? Dress accordingly. Even if the company is more casual, it’s better to be overdressed than to be underdressed. After all, you are trying to impress them. Not vice versa!
  • Arrival: 15 minutes before scheduled interview time. Not only will you definitely not be late, but this will give you a chance to peruse literature, awards and displays in the interviewee’s lobby. This can provide additional, valuable pre-interview client insight. You may also have a chance to glean insight and “insider” information from a receptionist or assistant. Real life examples:
    • We visited a company that prominently displayed their “Client Service Credo” in the lobby. We noted each of the 12 points, and actually used them as our outline for the interview. The client was impressed, remarking that it was the first time a law firm had ever focused on their values.
    • We struck up conversation with a general counsel’s assistant while waiting to meet. The assistant shared insight into qualities the GC disliked about working with some law firms.
  • Introductory conversation: anticipate and prepare for your initial exchange by quickly taking in the cues around you. How is the office organized? Are there family or travel photos? Sports team paraphernalia? Use these observations, along with any existing knowledge you have of the interviewee’s demeanor, as clues to establish rapport through comfortable small-talk.

You only have one shot at a first impression, so put your best foot forward!

Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson is founder and principal of Law Practice Consultants, LLC of Newton, MA. Law Practice Consultants offers consulting, coaching and training services that help law firms respond to the challenges of today’s highly competitive legal marketplace. For more information visit
Peter Johnson

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