The other day, I started thinking about the number of interviews I’ve participated in as part of my legal education and career thus far. In total, I think the number is somewhere around 75 in the last four years. For those of you applying this cycle, you may have your first taste of this never-ending cycle of interviews in the coming months. Increasingly, it seems, schools are interviewing applicants prior to making a decision on their applications.
So, what can you expect from these interviews? In general, they’re not particularly complicated. You’ll likely see several basic questions, such as, “Why do you want to be a lawyer?”, “Why are you interested in this particular school?”, “Why do you want to move to this part of the country?”, etc. As with any interview, you should be prepared to talk about anything you’ve submitted, from your résumé to personal statement, and you should also think about some slightly less common questions about any leadership experience you’ve had and the like. The only unexpected question I remember being asked was what I would do if I didn’t attend law school. This seems to be a relatively common question, so I would think about an answer beforehand. Lastly, you should prepare some targeted questions to demonstrate both an interest in and knowledge of the particular school.
As an additional note, you should be prepared to interview via Skype or over the phone. I didn’t have any in-person interviews, since none of the schools that requested an interview were anywhere near me. Although slightly more awkward, there isn’t a real difference in the substance of these interviews. You should also be prepared if a school asks for a group interview. Group interviews will require you to interact with your peers, and you should try to do so respectfully and succinctly while also ensuring your voice is heard.
I’m sure you’re wondering whether these interviews matter to your application. They do. It is difficult to tell how much any one school weighs the interview, but it can be a significant factor in their decision (and even if it isn’t, you should still prepare and take it seriously). Apart from that, the interview is a good way for you to get a sense of the school and learn more about it. Use it to your advantage.
As many of you have already realized, the application process is long and unpleasant, and it is easy to just assume you’ve done enough by writing a personal statement and completing the application forms. But you have to keep slogging through supplemental essays and optional (or mandatory) interviews if you want to maximize your chances of success. It more than pays off in the long run, and the only way you’ll have regrets is if you don’t take every step to make yourself the most attractive candidate.