Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Government Jobs - Short Vent

Hi all -- I've read this site for years and I always appreci govy01/11/18
All the best. https://www.chicagolegalgroup.com/ adamdancy01/16/18
I've been told that too. I think with government jobs a lot fettywap01/11/18
Sounds about right. Wage slaves never win. triplesix01/11/18
While that is true, I don’t think that’s the case with g downwardslope01/11/18
Thank you -- Good point re the second round interviews. For govy01/11/18
You should review your interviewing skills, which are highly nighthawk01/11/18
Edit: Thanks for your insight-- your posts are always great govy01/11/18
When you say trial experience, do you mean they're looking f 2breedbares01/11/18
Govt. atty. here. I've landed quality atty. jobs at the coun porochi01/11/18
It's not a double-blind. Once they see you and are visually aknas01/12/18
In the private sector, they will hire whoever they believe w ltsilvio01/12/18
"In the private sector, they will hire whoever they believe triplesix01/12/18
This is 100% true for all agencies in government, not just l turde01/15/18
First things first -- stop burning your vacation time. If th mrtor01/12/18
As is probably evident from a lot of the postings on this si dilemma201801/12/18
"I'm a lead and supervisory attorney at a major DA's Office aknas01/16/18
They just hired someone with no trial experience at my offic trollfeeder01/15/18
Government attorney here (moved to another agency for a pay samfriedlander201/23/18
govy (Jan 11, 2018 - 5:31 pm)

Hi all -- I've read this site for years and I always appreciate your insights. Just had a particularly rough day and wanted to vent a bit. I currently work at a firm and I am not at all interested in making a career out of my position. I've been very intentional in building skills, experience, and an overall resume that broadly apply to a wide array of government jobs. But I'm apparently lacking in the trial experience department. Government employers at every level seem to want it.

Today I took yet another day off for a second round interview only to be informed that the agency that I interviewed with is looking for someone with trial experience. Over the past year, I've taken maybe one 'vacation' day for my own purposes. I've used nearly all of my time off for interviews. With every interview, I inevitably have to put in more hours at work to make up for lost time. Here's my track record for the year:

Federal: 2 first round, 2 second round.
State: 2 first round (only one round of interviews at these agencies).
County: 2 first round, 2 second round.
City: 2 first round, 2 second round.

Total score: 0/14.

I think I interview fairly well (don't think I'd be getting these second rounders if I was terrible). I'm friendly, well-prepared, and I stay on point. But I get the strong sense that it was a foregone conclusion before many of these interviews that I would not get the job due to my lack of experience.

My gripe: Why would you interview folks who you know you have no intention of hiring? It shows a major lack of principles. I understand that my situation could be viewed as a sort of embarrassment of riches (getting the interviews in the first place), but I'd be hard pressed to see it like that.

/rant. Thanks for tuning in.

Reply Like (0)
adamdancy (Jan 16, 2018 - 3:42 am)

All the best.



https://www.chicagolegalgroup.com/

Reply Like (0)
fettywap (Jan 11, 2018 - 5:56 pm)

I've been told that too. I think with government jobs a lot of the time they already know who they're going to hire and interview several people to make it look like they're being fair when they're really not.

Reply Like (0)
triplesix (Jan 11, 2018 - 6:35 pm)

Sounds about right.

Wage slaves never win.

Reply Like (0)
downwardslope (Jan 11, 2018 - 6:56 pm)

While that is true, I don’t think that’s the case with govy as you’re not likely to get to a second interview if they’re interviewing you as a formality. People really don’t have time to waste on multiple interviews as a formality.

I’m inclined to think that if he is making it to a second round, there is likely some issue in the actual interviewing skills that is tripping him up. Usually if it’s a preselect, you get one interview and that’s it. Keep in mind that at many government jobs, you’re not going to get the level of resources you’re used to at a law firm. They may be getting the sense that you aren’t going to want to or aren’t used to doing the sort of things you’ll have to do at a government office. I know at my last job, there was one person who came in from the private sector and even a year and a half after I left, I still don’t think she’d fully adjusted. It’s not just building the useful skills for a government job, but doing it in the conditions that are often typical in the government workplace.

Reply Like (0)
govy (Jan 11, 2018 - 7:18 pm)

Thank you -- Good point re the second round interviews. For some of the positions, I was definitely left with the impression that I barely missed the cut. It's totally possible that I'm sending the wrong message (or not sending the right message), but I don't think it has to do with the private-public transition. My background makes clear that I'm the government "type".

Reply Like (0)
nighthawk (Jan 11, 2018 - 6:42 pm)

You should review your interviewing skills, which are highly important in a competitive market. Being prepared and staying on point is excellent and will definitely help. However, there is more to it than preparation and staying on point.

1) You need to keep the conversation flowing. When you respond to questions, do you just answer flatly? This may cause the interviewer to work hard to keep the conversation going. He or she does interviewing because they have to, not because they want to. Do not make them work hard. Answer the question in a way that they will respond and keep things going.

2) Do you explain how you, if hired, will add value. Sure, you can produce a brief, so can others. Did you say "I drafted a brief at my old firm that won the case" or something similar.

3) Know how to answer the tough questions: Why should we hire you? What makes you think that you are the right candidate? This trips up many people and weeds out those without the skills to deal with these things.

4) Be bold. Lawyers can be in your face and sometimes are expected to be. Answers like "I might be able to do that for you, with a little training" is too meek. The answer should be "I will do that for you. If you look at my work history you will see that I can get things done."

Reply Like (0)
govy (Jan 11, 2018 - 7:07 pm)

Edit: Thanks for your insight-- your posts are always great reads. Deleted my previous post because it was too self assured. I *think* I've been applying your points of advice in my interviews, but I'll definitely self reflect on each point. Thanks again.

Reply Like (0)
2breedbares (Jan 11, 2018 - 9:42 pm)

When you say trial experience, do you mean they're looking for first chair? Hard to believe you have no trial experience at this stage in your career. Are you willing to embellish?

Reply Like (0)
porochi (Jan 11, 2018 - 11:43 pm)

Govt. atty. here. I've landed quality atty. jobs at the county, state and federal level. I think what works for me is prior to any interview I'd write out all questions I thought I'd encounter then I'd write out my answer, in full. When done, it'd read like a script. Invariably I'd be asked many of the questions I had anticipated, and I had a ready answer. And I'd always try to tie in some relevant anecdote from my background when answering.

Granted, anecdotes aren't a good fit for the asperational questions like where do you see yourself in 5 years and the like, but taking thr time to game plan an interview, interview yourself, and write out full answers, long hand, staves off the long awkward periods of pregnant silence trying to think up an answer. Most interviews follow a logical pattern, anticipate well, be prepared with a quality answer, rehearse so you don't sound like an automaton, and you just might stand out in the crowd and get the job. It's an audition, so play the part well.

Reply Like (0)
aknas (Jan 12, 2018 - 4:34 am)

It's not a double-blind. Once they see you and are visually unable to check any preference points boxes, then, unless you have stratospheric schools, grades , and connections, forget it.

It's not your fault. Its the system. Better make a better plan.

Reply Like (0)
ltsilvio (Jan 12, 2018 - 12:52 pm)

In the private sector, they will hire whoever they believe will be most productive. The government is different. Productivity or being really good in trials bears no relationship to whether people are promoted or given raises. Everything is completely arbitrary. I would imagine this would apply to hiring as well. They probably just pick who they like the most.

Reply Like (0)
triplesix (Jan 12, 2018 - 1:01 pm)

"In the private sector, they will hire whoever they believe will be most productive."

Deff not true... Good theory but this is not how human beings operate at all in real world.

Reply Like (0)
turde (Jan 15, 2018 - 11:46 pm)

This is 100% true for all agencies in government, not just law.

Reply Like (0)
mrtor (Jan 12, 2018 - 3:27 pm)

First things first -- stop burning your vacation time. If they won't accommodate an interview immediately before or after regular work day hours, you're probably not a very serious contender. If they insist on interviewing during regular work hours, do it at the very beginning or end of the day so that you only lose 1-2 hours of vacation time. There's no reason you should be burning whole or even half days on interviews.

Secondly, if you don't have the experience they are looking for don't bother. Private firms may appreciate underexperienced gunners who will figure out how to swim in the deep end. Government? Not so much. Most agencies are simply interested in filling the position with someone who has a pulse and satisfies the bureaucratically-generated criteria. If they want two years of experience and you have 23 months, there is a good chance you will be rejected (sometimes they only take a closer look at your qualifications against the criteria around, say, the second interview).

Finally, I think your cynicism is getting the best of you. Most bureaucrats are not going to volunteer their free time to interview unqualified candidates. Sure, perhaps once in a while they may make up their minds and still be required to go through the interview process. However, in most instances, if you are picked for an interview, or a second interview, it is because you are competitive. Don't lose sight of that or your performance may suffer.

Reply Like (0)
dilemma2018 (Jan 12, 2018 - 5:12 pm)

As is probably evident from a lot of the postings on this site, government attorney slots are frequently coveted. I totally agree that agencies at all levels rarely are going to waste second or more interviews on candidates for no reason. I'm a lead and supervisory attorney at a major DA's Office and know that for every opening we get a ton of applicants. If it is a trial position, without a doubt they are looking for applicants whom they feel not only has the background on paper but they could visualize "taking the field" from day one and represent the agency well. I have no idea what questions you are being asked at the interview, however, here are some key points to emphasize at your interview:

1)Ability to handle high-volume and multi-task--government is often about volume. I have personally had attorneys that were in private practice join our Office and complained constantly about "the pace and volume". Not sure what the hell they expected but whatever. They usually do not last.

2) Ability to work in a team/collaborative environment without having all of the support structure of a firm. When I was interning, one of the things they looked for in order to recommend you for a full time position was whether you complained or were fine doing the "non-attorney" tasks that many paralegal and secretaries handle at a firm. If you complained or seemed opposed, no offer. Highlight projects that you have worked on or cases where you were part of a team.

3) Interest/commitment to public service: One of the questions that ALWAYS seems to come up is why government etc...Make sure you have an answer that ideally ties into a case or something that resonates honesty/credibility.

Reply Like (0)
aknas (Jan 16, 2018 - 3:57 am)

"I'm a lead and supervisory attorney at a major DA's Office and know that for every opening we get a ton of applicants.

TITCR.

It's not your fault.

The system is rigged.

Try the medical industry, where a given position might have 4, at most, applicants.

Reply Like (0)
trollfeeder (Jan 15, 2018 - 9:16 pm)

They just hired someone with no trial experience at my office. Guess who has to train him? Meh. Keep grinding, dude.

Reply Like (0)
samfriedlander2 (Jan 23, 2018 - 1:47 am)

Government attorney here (moved to another agency for a pay bump). I’d also suggest you consider the environment during an interview. I found government interviews (state / City level) to be fairly casual. As a person above noted - they probably don’t want to waste time interviewing people either. It’s government work after all. You should make the conversation flow and give the impression that you’re someone the interviewer wouldn’t mind talking to throughout a workday.

Reply Like (0)
Post a message in this thread