There are many common mistakes that law students make in interviews. Here are some tips to avoid, or at least minimize the effect of, these mistakes.
1) Dress the part – Your clothing should be clean and tidy, but it should also be appropriate for what you are interviewing for. If you are sitting down to interview with a judge, dress as if you were going before them in court. If it is a conservative business office environment where they wear suits every day, do not wear jeans and t-shirt because they will see your attire as disrespectful to the work environment. You want to present yourself well so that you can catch someone’s attention even before their first question.
2) Be concise and organized – Do not waste the interviewer or the time of other interviewers. Use the time well to get them to understand what you are interested in studying, why you want to study law and what kind of law you want to practice. Leave out nothing about your background, interests or goals.
3) Tell a story – It is not appropriate to say things like “I like studying law because I think it’s interesting” or “I want to be a lawyer because I love solving problems”. The more interesting you can make your story, the better chance you have at being remembered and that then helps improve your chances for success in the interview process. An example of a story is “in high school I had a teacher who got on me because I never did my work. He said that I would come to the bad side of life if I didn’t get my act together. And because he told me that, I started working very hard in school and became valedictorian of my class”.
4) Practice makes perfect – One of the things you have to do after finishing law school (even if you do not go on to be an attorney) is being able to speak effectively and persuasively in front of others. The more you speak, the better you will be able to handle the pressure of an interview. When it comes time to practice, try taking on different types of law students to see how you can make your story interesting. You may want to use a tape recorder and record yourself speaking with a friend in an interview setting. You may also want to wear a recording device so that if you forget something that was important to your story, someone may be able to help remind you and give you notes.
5) Be yourself – This is not the time for big exaggerations about what you will do when you get out of law school or over-exaggerated stories about why practicing law interests you. Just be yourself and you will be more likely to get the job or a contract.
6) Be polite – When you are being interviewed on the telephone, remember that the person you are talking to is from a different country than yourself. It is true that it is not as formal as being in court, but also remember that if you were in court, it would probably be because you were being questioned about a crime.
7) Share your law school successes – Be sure to mention your success in law school. If you were the editor of the law review, the head of the honor’s society, or an award winner, be sure to mention it and try to find a way to tie these accomplishments back into your reasons for going into law.
8) Most importantly, look professional – Your cover letter should not be sprinkled with grammatical errors and misspellings. Your references should be listed in a specific order that represents seniority and expertise. You should be using 10 point Times New Roman font size or better.
Are law school interviews hard?
The short answer is “No.”
Unlike many other types of interviews, law school interviews are conducted by and at the discretion of your own admissions committee. As you know if you’re a student at this point, each of your instructors will reach out to others in their classes to get a feel for what kind of person you are. They will also reach out to your professors who teach in their areas of practice so they can speak to the kind of professional they think you’ll become.
At a certain point, it becomes the responsibility of you and your admissions committee members (academics) what kind of professional the rest of your academic department thinks you’ll be (teachers or prosecutors).
Law school interviews are not so much hard as they are different. The nature of academia is to make everything understood, even when it’s not. So as long as you prepare well and anticipate questions – you can succeed at any type of interview.