Informal interviews often follow a conversational tone. Typically the interview starts with small talk before getting down to the core of the meeting, which you can expect to last for 45-60 minutes. The interviewer wants to understand your experience and how it fits with the role they are seeking to fill (can you do the job?), see how well you speak and interact with others (will you fit in?), and assess your interest in the position (do you want this job?). More often than not, the interviewer will do a lot of talking about the role and the organization before moving to their questions for you. The interview can take many turns, as a normal conversation would, and will often be guided by the experience outlined in your resume and how you answer the interviewer’s questions.
Below are some sample interview questions you can expect in an informal interview:
Why are you interested in this role with our company?
What do you think makes you a good fit for this role?
What aspects of this role do you think will be the biggest challenge for you?
What is your communication style?
How would you rate your drafting skills?
What are your strengths?
What are your areas for improvement?
What do you think your references will say about you?
Do you have any questions?
The final question of “do you have any questions?” is not meant to trick you. If you have questions, ask one or two that seem appropriate. Do not ask any question that you should already know the answer to through your interview preparation and the information you have been provided throughout the interview. If you do not have questions, it is okay to say that all of your questions have been answered and reiterate your interest in the role.
A note on compensation: typically the topic of compensation is not raised in a first interview, however if the employer raises the topic you should address the question as honestly as possible.
Due to popular demand, ALT is proud to announce the launch of our Legal Support division headed by veteran recruiter Tania Isnor!
Tania will be focused on engagements for legal support professionals. If you have hiring needs in this area and want to experience the ALT Approach offering unparalleled service, please email Tania at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As recruitment experts, we get a lot of questions about appropriate attire for an interview. There are always complicating factors with this question but in our view, the answer is always the same – dress to impress. You can never be overdressed for an interview (unless of course, you opt to dust off your tuxedo or ballgown – not advisable). Below are some specific questions we often field:
“It’s Friday – won’t everyone be dressed down?”
Yes, convention means that many offices adopt a business casual (or sometimes casual casual) Friday attire for employees. It feels just a little bit sweeter going into the office wearing jeans. But depending on your office, casual Fridays are widely varying. In an insurance company, it might mean suit no tie. At our office, it usually means jeans and a blouse with a blazer for meetings. At a technology company, it probably means hoodies and cargo pants. The important thing to remember is that even if employees are dressed down, they are not interviewing – you are!
“If I wear a suit to my office, everyone will know I’m going to an interview!”
We understand the worry – you don’t want to tip off your employer or co-workers that something is up by wearing clothes you wouldn’t usually wear to the office, especially if your interview happens to be on a Friday. How to resolve this? There are lots of ways. Take the afternoon of your interview off, if you can, and go home to change. Or keep your change of clothes in your bag or car and do a quick change in a Starbucks restroom or the gym. We’ve even offered our offices to ALT candidates for a quick changeroom and a place to store your bags – no problem! A recent candidate purchased a tie en route to his interview. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
“I want my unique style to shine through – I don’t want to work somewhere where I can’t be myself.”
We meet hundreds of candidates every year, ranging from millennial to baby boomer and beyond, and we have seen all kinds of style – short pants, tight pants, bright colours, bright socks, no socks, suit shorts, big hair, polished head – you name it, we’ve seen it. We are not advocating that you wear a black suit and white shirt and red tie – far from it. Expressing personality through style is awesome – but it must be office appropriate. No revealing cleavage (men or women), no tight T-shirts (men or women), and nothing too short (men or women). Looking as though you are heading straight to the club, or the ski hill, isn’t appropriate workwear, let alone interview attire.
“I am never comfortable in a suit – I won’t feel confident.”
Business appropriate attire means different things to different people. Some will opt for pants with a blazer and flats if that’s what they are most comfortable (and powerful) wearing. Others, a dress with a jacket and statement necklace. Others still will prefer a matching suit and pant, perhaps with a vibrant tie, pocket square, and funky socks. You be you – the best form of you – so you can shine through with confidence.
One last tip as you’re walking into the meeting. No matter what you’re wearing, it truly is what is on the inside that counts. First impressions don’t tell your story – you do. So be positive, confident and prepared and you will be amazing.
It’s that time of year again! Please enjoy this holiday post, written and originally posted in 2016 by ALT Partner Rebecca Toth.
It’s that most wonderful time of the year. Whether you’re excited for festivus, jolly old saint nick, the first noel, eight crazy nights or chrismukkah, you better think twice about the holiday office party. Let’s make sure that when your big boss checks the list to see who’s been naughty or nice, you’re squarely on the nice list. Here are a few office holiday party “DOs” and “DON’Ts” to consider along with some real life mishaps that we have been privy to.
Eat, drink and be merry!
Definitely DO go to the office holiday party. It’s a great way to get to know your co-workers in an informal, social way. There will be lots of laughs, particularly at those co-workers who follow the ‘don’t do’ rules of holiday party etiquette. Done right, however, you’ll see strong mentor relationships and even real friendships develop. Be sure to eat if you plan on having a drink and engaging in merriment. That way you’ll not end up like one office holiday party attendee who passed out in their soup.
Dress in Holiday Style
Holiday parties are the time for a little extra sparkle and shine. DO don something more than your usual office attire. But choose wisely. It’s still a work function and it should be classy. With class achieved, still watch out for wardrobe malfunctions. You definitely want to avoid your strapless dress slipping down while swing-dancing with a senior member of the department in front of everyone!
I don’t know if there’ll be snow, But have a cup of cheer!
Of course the office holiday party is a time to celebrate but DON’T overindulge. The next day when you walk down Bay Street to say hello to friends you know make sure it’s not with your head hung in shame! Almost every awesomely horrific office party story is fueled by one cup too many of good cheer. Moderation is the key to not being the only one in the holiday ‘spirit’ dancing on the bar, splitting your suit pants on the dance floor, or taking a brief nap in the bathroom.
Outside the snow is falling, And friends are calling “Yoo-hoo!”
DO mingle and network with everyone, not just your usual crew. Make a great impression on all – the support team, your peers, and more senior partners. DON’T air your grievances like one first year associate who told the managing partner that they deserve to be paid more because they’re a better lawyer than most at the firm. Similarly, think twice about taking on the office nemesis even though they may well deserve a lump of coal for how they treat others.
Oh, ho the mistletoe, Hung where you can see
While the mistletoe may have been hung with care, the office holiday party is not the place to ‘romance’. A few torrid stories we’ve heard include dirty dancing, office love triangles ending in fist fights, and secretly kissing a co-worker while your significant other chats with other guests. That’s not very merry at all. DO show your appreciation to others in a warm but appropriate way.
Auld Lang Syne
We all love the song that caps off the end of a holiday party. But at this party, DON’T be the last one standing, belting out holiday classics. You still have to show up at work the next morning, all merry and bright!
The following post was originally published here on
It’s a crisp late-summer day in Tacoma, Washington, and Maya Makino has just started her sophomore year at the University of Puget Sound. She’s 19, which puts her at the upper end of generation Z, whose members currently range in age from 5 to 20. Like many of her peers, she doesn’t think of college as a relaxing period for self-discovery and navel gazing. She was 10 years old when the recession hit–just old enough to be aware of what was going on–and that has shaped her feelings about higher education.
“There’s a lot of stress about finding a job after college and being able to support yourself,” Makino says. “My friends and I are really focused on finishing up in four years and having a good career path. There’s less time for reflection because there’s that worry about whether you’re going to be able to survive in the economy if you’re not really directed.”
For the past several years, the media has been obsessed with millennials, the most studied group ever. But as Makino’s generation grows up and gets ready to enter the workforce, corporations are paying more attention to this crop of young people born between 1996 and 2011. At 60 million strong in the United States, they outnumber millennials by 1 million. It would be easy to assume that they are just an exaggerated version of the generation that came before them, spending even more of their lives on social media, doing even more of their shopping online, and demonstrating an ever greater collaborative nicer nature. But generation Z grew up in a starkly different historical context than millennials, which has given them a distinct outlook on the world.
Millennials were internet pioneers. They invented Facebook, shopped from their smartphones, and smoothly transitioned from satellite TV to Hulu and Netflix. Generation Z, meanwhile, doesn’t remember life without these basics of 21st century life. Millennials helped elect a black president and legalize gay marriage; many generation Zers see these milestones as the norm. Millennials came of age during a time of economic expansion and were shocked to find a diminished, unwelcoming job market after college; generation Z has been shaped by the recession and is prepared to fight hard to create a stable future for themselves.
Makino is fairly typical in this regard. She grew up in a solidly middle-class family in Arcata, California, with a professor father and an artist mother. At 19, she is responsible, mature, and financially savvy; she’s taken on a work-study job at her college alumni magazine to help pay the bills and is always mindful of the cost of her education. “I was thinking about taking a gap semester to have a life outside of being a good student,” she says. “But if you step off the treadmill for even a minute, you start accruing [interest] on your student loans. So I decided against it.”
Since many members of gen Z have not even entered elementary school yet, it’s impossible to draw definitive conclusions about what their habits, lifestyles, and world views will be. But as the oldest among them flood into colleges and start their careers, we’re beginning to see trends emerge. Here’s what we know.
THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT AND THE REJECTION OF BIG BRANDS
Marketers have been carefully studying generation Z for many years now, observing their preferences as children and teenagers, and finding that they have a very different relationship with companies than their elders. “Compared to any generation that has come before, they are less trusting of brands,” says Emerson Spartz, CEO of the digital media company Dose. “They have the strongest bullshit filter because they’ve grown up in an era where information was available at all times.”
For decades, brands communicated through advertisements, so corporations with the biggest budgets could make the biggest impact on billboards, magazine spreads, TV, and radio ads. But with the internet, now people can dig into what brands really stand for, beyond the heavily photoshopped visions they try to project. Online reviews have made shoddy products easy to spot. Consumers immediately find out when a company has lied to them, such as when Volkswagen installed software that cheated on emissions tests or when the Honest Company included chemicals in its laundry detergent that it had previously denied using. Blogs regularly dissect–and skewer–companies with ugly corporate culture or poor working conditions.
Spartz believes that because generation Z grew up amid the Occupy Wall Street movement, which portrayed big banking and corporate greed as public enemy No. 1, this has further aggravated their distrust of the behemoths. “Some of the anti-establishment sentiment has penetrated this generation,” he says. “Big brands are the establishment and having a recognizable animal on the top right-hand corner of your shirt signals that you are part of the establishment.”
There was a time when young people aspired to wear flashy labels conspicuously: Think the enormous polo player logo on Ralph Lauren shirts or the prominent label on Calvin Klein jeans. Millennials flocked to Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch. But kids are now showing some resistance to serving as walking advertisements, and as a result, many of the major apparel companies are faring poorly. “They’re less brand-conscious and they are not spending as much as millennials do,” says Kyle Andrew, chief marketing officer of American Eagle Outfitters, another brand that targets teens. (Unlike some of its competitors, American Eagle has seen sales and profits rise.)
According to Makino, this label-wariness is a part of everyday life on campus. “People here mostly dress in ill-fitting thrift store clothes,” she says. “Even the few people who wear really nice clothes don’t wear big logos plastered across the front.”
Still, gen Z is hardly a lost cause for major companies. Spartz says that brands that are able to communicate with customers in an open, unfiltered way tend to do better with young people. Everlane and Cuyana, for instance, proactively offer insight into how products are made, and Warby Parker and Tom’s make a point of explaining how they are trying to promote social good. “Authenticity and transparency are two ideals that they value highly,” he says.
Gen-Zers also tend to trust individuals more than big institutions. As a result, many brands focused on them are partnering with social media influencers in an effort to appear more relatable. Companies might collaborate with an Instagram user who has a massive following, like Kaitlin Keegan or Susie Lau, paying them to feature a product or outfit on their account. “Generation Z is more willing to hear a brand’s story when it is part of a narrative their peer is already telling,” says Steven Lammertink, the founder and CEO of the Cirqle, a platform that connects brands with influencers. “This approach is not obtrusive.”
Today’s teens and young adults are not naive: Many are aware that Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube stars are paid to endorse products. (In fact, the FTC now requires influencers to disclose when they have been paid to endorse a product.) By and large, they trust that the people they follow on social media and respect are making a conscious decision about the brands they will work with. Lammertink says that he built his company so that influencers had to opt in to work with a brand, choosing to work only with brands they like. “We try and safeguard that authenticity,” he says. “This is very different than the traditional method of brands reaching out to models or spokespeople and negotiating rates before agreeing to do a campaign.”
Generation Z doesn’t just stand out in terms of how they relate to brands; they’re also spending their money differently. Today’s teens and college students grew up hearing horror stories about how many millennials ended up living at home after college, sitting on a mountain of debt. So they tend to be financially cautious.
A survey by Lincoln Financial Group of 400 members of generation Z aged 15 to 19 found that they are saving far earlier than than older generations: 60% of them already have savings accounts and 71% say they are focused on saving for the future. Their top three priorities are getting a job, finishing college, and safeguarding money for the years to come. They rate these goals above spending time with friends and family, working out, or traveling. Jamie Ohl, president of retirement plan services at Lincoln Financial, says that we’re seeing similarities between this young generation and the one that emerged in the years following the Great Depression. “When I think about the ‘greatest generation’ having gone through the Depression and how they taught their children, the boomers, to save, that’s what this generation of parents is teaching generation Z,” she says.
But while generation Z is realistic about the challenges ahead, 89% of them remain optimistic about their futures, which is higher than any other generation on record. “Part of this has to do with the natural optimism of youth,” Ohl says. “But I also think it is important that they watched their parents come through the most recent financial crisis.”
Companies have also noticed that young adults put a premium on getting good value for their money. Spirit Airlines, for instance, is preparing for gen Z to become the dominant group of travelers by rebranding itself as an ultra-low-cost carrier. The airline offers rock-bottom fares: It can cost as little as $151 to travel from New York to San Francisco, one way. But the ride comes with zero frills—no free checked bags or complimentary beverages on board. Spirit has found that this generation of college students, who are beginning to buy their own tickets for the very first time, is comfortable paying only for what they are using. “We’re finding that generation Z is much more pragmatic around thinking about value,” says Rana Ghosh, a revenue executive at Spirit. “It’s not so much that they are price-conscious; it’s about what they are getting for the money they are spending. As an airline, the draw is to get them from point A to point B safely and on time, so providing the same service for a fraction of the price appeals to them.”
Cheryl Rosner, the CEO of Stayful, an app that helps people get competitive rates on boutique hotels by booking close to travel dates, has made similar observations. Rosner points out that younger consumers want to know what they are getting for the price, so they pay close attention to reviews of other people’s experience and the extent of the discount. “You’ve got a group of people who have completely grown up on technology from the day they were born,” she says. “They are very comfortable doing their research and finding things out for themselves, so if you’re going to sell them on value, you really need to have your shit together. You can’t just say that this hotel has the best prices, because that is not what value means.”
And when it comes to technology, gen Z tends to be savvy about their approach to consuming electronics, resisting the allure of snatching up the latest, priciest products when there is a constant stream of new, inexpensive options. “Technological innovation is no longer an exciting, celebrated thing, as much as it is an expectation,” says Sam Paschel, chief commercial officer of the headphone brand Skullcandy, which targets younger consumers. “Generation Z relates to technology as a tool, as opposed to an obsession.” To keep up with the demands of today’s teens, the company has invested heavily in scientists and researchers who work to improve the quality of sound. Skullcandy also just launched a line of wireless headphones to pre-empt the demise of the headphone jack in phones. At the same time, Skullcandy has avoided trotting these new products in an elaborate dog and pony show or even charging a premium for them. It strives for a subtler messaging that will speak to young consumers.
ULTRA-COMPETITIVE, BUT VERY ACCEPTING
Given their focus on financial security, it’s not surprising that generation Z is poised to be cutthroat when it comes to getting jobs and establishing careers. Jonah Stillman, a 17-year old from Minneapolis who, with his father David, wrote GenZ@Work, a book (due in March) about how his generation will fare as members of the workforce. The pair conducted two national studies of 4,000 teens about workplace attitudes and preferences. They’ve discovered that these young people are in “survival mode” and believe they will have to fight for what they want. They would feel lucky to get a job, which contrasts with the common perception of millennials as feeling entitled to a job. Sixty-six percent of gen-Zers say their number one concern is drowning in college debt, and 75% say there are ways of getting a good education besides going to college.
“Millennials are the most collaborative generation, launching applications like Facebook and sharing everything with everybody,” Stillman says. “But gen Z is completely different: They are a very independent and competitive generation, having been taught by our parents that there are definitely winners and losers at life. Millennials, on the other hand, were told that if you work together, everybody can be a winner.”
But even though they see the workplace as a battlefield, they are inclusive and tolerant of difference. They grew up with a black man as the leader of the free world, with women in positions of power in the workplace, and with openly gay celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Anderson Cooper, and Neil Patrick Harris. “As a whole, gen Z is a very accepting generation,” Stillman says.
American Eagle Outfitters drew the same conclusion from in-depth market research of preteens and teenagers. “I felt really excited when we got some of this most recent data back,” says Kyle Andrew, the CMO. “Honestly, they seem to be a lot nicer than other generations: They are not judgmental, they don’t put people in boxes, and they don’t seem to care as much about what you do, who you love, or what you look like. At least that is what they’re telling us.” As a result, the company has tried to incorporate these ideals into its marketing, with an e-commerce website and ad campaigns that are diverse, featuring models from a wide range of ethnicities, with a variety of hair textures and body types. “Generation Z seems to really care about engaging with brands that have values that align with their own,” Andrew says. “You can’t just make stuff: You have to stand for something. As a brand, we want to support and enable the freedom to be yourself.”
Which, she acknowledges, is not easy when teens no longer rely so heavily on mass-market brands to help them express their identity to the world. In the past, kids wore labels that channelled that they were preppy or rebellious or sporty. But the internet has multiplied the number of clothing companies they can choose from, which has had a part in making them less brand-loyal; social media also offers them another platform to craft a public persona. “They are creating their own personal brand,” Andrew says.
Volcom, an apparel company associated with the skater and surfer kids of the 1990s and early 2000s, says that it has to evolve to keep up with generation Z. “When Volcom was founded in 1991, there was more of a united counterculture,” says Ryan Immegart, the company’s marketing VP. “Punk and action sports was a really cool movement, and people felt that our brand was a way for them to be part of that. Our brand represented rebellion and nonconformity from what was happening around young people at the time.”
But today’s teens no longer need a company to create a community. On the internet, they can befriend like-minded people and join social movements. “There are so many different countercultures today,” Immegart says. “For us, we have to grow and figure out the next chapter in our story.” What that looks like, he’s not ready to say.
Volcom isn’t the only brand with millennial appeal that’s now rethinking its strategies. Two years ago, for instance, Skullcandy launched a line of headphones that came in a range of “feminine” colors and were specifically designed to accommodate the physiological differences in women’s ears. They were a hit among millennials who felt that the consumer electronic industry tended to focus on men’s needs, but the response from teens was lukewarm. “Generation Z is much more gender-neutral when it comes to everything–clothing, style, conversation, bathroom choice,” says Sam Paschel, the company’s chief commercial officer. “Launching gender-specific products in the face of a generation that is thinking more gender-neutral is fascinating to observe.”
It’s one of the many ways companies are trying to keep up with the demands of generation Z. “The rate of change in society is increasing exponentially,” Spartz says. “The world is changing more in 10 years now than it used to change in 100 years. So that means that the difference between someone who is born 20 years after someone else is going to seem like oceans of separation when it comes to shared experiences.”
Good thing there’s the internet to help bridge the gulf.
Over the past few weeks, the ALT Team has spent a lot of time in meetings, with both clients and candidates. This is always a busy time of year – the winter holidays are a distant memory, first quarter financials have been released (and bonuses deposited into bank accounts), and with the summer holidays coming, New Year’s resolutions are re-energized. Below we address a few of the common questions we receive from candidates and clients.
CANDIDATE: Should I be talking to more than one legal recruitment firm?
Yes! We encourage ALT candidates to keep their job search broad. Recruiting is a relationship-based business. At ALT, we have Clients we have worked with for more than 10 years. They know us and trust our judgment, and come back to us each time they need to add a lawyer to their team. Similarly, other recruiters will have their own relationships. When you’re looking for a new job, keep your network broad but use caution – only work with recruiters with a good reputation and who take confidentiality very seriously. And keep track of where your resume goes to avoid embarrassing duplication of effort.
CLIENT: Should I be engaging more than one legal recruitment firm to hire counsel?
No! For talent seekers, an exclusive engagement with one recruitment firm is always best. The ALT Partners will meet with you and key stakeholders to fully understand your unique hiring needs. We go to market with a wide brush to find those individuals who will be the best fit. ALT strives to balance expediency with quality. Other recruitment firms that promise results in 24-48 hours rely on an outdated database to source candidates. ALT goes to market each time with a fresh eye to find the best talent. When multiple recruitment firms are engaged on the same search, no one firm is held accountable for results. Whether you choose to engage ALT Recruitment Partners or another of our fine competitors, best to use only one firm at a time.
CANDIDATE: Should I have a LinkedIn profile?
Everyone should have a LinkedIn profile. Like a company with a well thought out website, a LinkedIn profile adds legitimacy to every professional, whether or not they are looking to move jobs. It is a great way to network in this digital world. From a recruitment standpoint, those seeking talent (whether they be headhunters like us, or internal corporate talent acquisition teams) use all available tools to find the right candidates for the roles that are vacant. These tools include posting advertisements, cold-calling, networking and referrals. LinkedIn is an excellent medium in this regard.
CANDIDATE: When will I hear back?
Many organizations have moved into entirely digital recruitment, making candidates feel as though they are sending their employment application into the ether – a big black hole. Often candidates are left with no ability to follow-up. For the companies who are truly wonderful at responding to every relevant application, we thank you. You’re helping to improve the recruitment process and reputation of recruiters everywhere. At ALT, we believe that no update is still an update. We strive to provide timely updates to clients and candidates on a regular basis, and are always responsive to inquiries.
CLIENT: We have an internal recruiter/HR department/talent acquisition team. Why should we use ALT?
Internal recruiters are incredible multi-taskers – we can’t imagine working on sourcing 40 positions in a wide range of areas at the same time! Often the internal team is happy to bring ALT in – we provide specialized legal recruitment solutions. We are lawyers and legal recruitment is ALL WE DO. We are a boutique firm, which means we don’t take on 40 mandates at a time. We focus on a handful of clients at a time. This allows us to spend the time sourcing candidates and tailoring each and every search to our clients’ unique hiring needs. With our 35+ years of combined legal recruitment experience, we have amassed an amazing network of Canadian lawyers – a network no general recruiter could possibly have. We create a customized process and timeline and are responsive throughout the process, working closely with the hiring managers and always keeping you up to date on our progress. And the best part? The ALT Approach combines executive search methods with a contingency fee model. This means if we are not successful (which we will be), there is no fee.
This is an adapted copy of a previously published article by ALT’s own Emily Lee.
It’s simple supply and demand. When markets slow down, available positions and the supply of candidates decrease. Whether you’re starting your career, have been downsized, or are unhappy with your current role, now is the time to put the extra effort into your search. Below are 7 tips to help you forge ahead.
Without your computer. Get out there and engage with real, LIVE people. Call a former classmate for coffee, attend a CLE seminar, meet with a recruiter, get involved with a charity… The more people you engage with on a daily basis, the more opportunities for them to see how fantastic you are and recommend you when the time comes.
Do your homework
Have an interview coming up, or even just an informal coffee? Know the organization’s business inside and out before your meeting. In this digital information age, your first question should never be “what do you do?” or “what does your company do?” Use the tools at hand – Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. – to find out as much as you can about the person you are meeting. It is truly amazing how much you can discover, and knowledge is power. It also really helps generate conversation.
Dress the part
Get into business mode – put on your power suit or the outfit that makes you feel confident. Look good, feel good really applies at job interviews. Even if your interviewer is more casual, dressing professionally shows you are taking the meeting seriously.
Flip your perspective
Put yourself into the employer’s shoes and really think about why they should hire YOU. Focusing on what you want (more money, better lifestyle, clear career path) doesn’t help the decision-maker decide that you are the right person for the job. There will be a time to discuss those things, but first you need to tell them why they should hire you. They won’t know you’re the best person for the job unless you tell them why!
When the time comes to discuss why you want to leave your current employer, keep in mind that everything negative can be turned into a positive. “I’m hitting the glass ceiling” can instead be “I am looking for an opportunity with greater possibilities for growth and advancement”. “My work environment is toxic” becomes “I am looking for the opportunity to work with good people”. “I am grossly underpaid” could instead be phrased as “I want to be valued for my contributions”. Bashing your current or past employer will only make you look bad.
Ask for what you want and express your interest. Too many times we assume that the person we are talking to knows what we are looking for. Leave every meeting with a reiteration of your ask (the job, a referral, a reference). Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Send a thank you note. Handwritten ones are special, but a well-typed email also does the trick. Thank the interviewer(s) for their time and reiterate your interest in the role. Make sure you collect business cards at the interview to easier find email addresses. Be respectful of the process and don’t harass anyone for feedback.