Many law schools now incorporate some kind of interview process. Here’s what to know and do to prepare.
Know what kind of interviews your law schools offer
- Research your law schools’ websites to see whether and what kind of interview is offered. We posted a list of known interview types by school over on our Compass page.
- By invitation only–some law schools like University of Chicago choose to interview applicants by invitation only.
- Open interviews–Other law schools like Northwestern offer interview slots to all applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. (To schedule an interview visit their interview calendar here. Hurry, because they will fill fast.)
- Group interviews–Some schools like Georgetown will offer group interviews in selected cities; at this time Georgetown’s interview is also by invitation only.
Preparing for the interview
- Do your research. You should expect them to ask you “why this law school?” and they will want to hear specific answers. Take a careful look at the school’s website, employment data, and any marketing materials like pamphlets.
- Do be prepared with specific bullet points about the school that interest you: A particular journal, clinic, externship, or certificate program is a good example.
- Don’t say general things like “you have a national reputation” or “you’re the best ranked school I can get into.” They want to see that your interest goes beyond their ranking.
- Carefully review your resume and be prepared to discuss anything on it. Many schools will also ask something like “Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?,” so be prepared to discuss your career interests.
- Practice. Sign up for a mock interview with Career Services, or have a lawyer/professor/trusted person sit down with you and ask you questions. Think carefully about what you want to say, and how you can best convey it.
At the interview
- Make eye contact, introduce yourself, and shake hands. (You would be surprised how many people skip this. Seriously.)
- DO NOT BE LATE under any circumstances. The biggest sign of disrespect to lawyers is wasting their time. Allow yourself plenty of time for parking/traffic/restroom. If you absolutely cannot avoid being late, call the office to let them know.
- Dress up. This is not a business-casual situation; business formal is best.
- Engage in small talk. How’s the weather, what a lovely office/view, how is your semester going, etc., is not only socially necessary but also gives the interviewer an idea of how good you are at making people feel comfortable talking with you–a critical skill to be a successful lawyer. This might even be part of the interview itself.
- Bring questions for the interviewer. Most interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. Use the opportunity. Some examples might include:
- What are the most important qualities in a Law School X student?
- How would you describe the student body/atmosphere here?
- What challenges do you see current law students facing?
- What’s the best advice you have for an aspiring law student?
- Thank the interviewer for their time. Reiterate your interest.
After the interview
- Follow up with an email thanking the interviewer for their time.
- Include something specific that you learned or enjoyed about the interview. Examples:
- Thank you for your advice about _______________; I found that very insightful.
- It was reassuring to hear your thoughts on the atmosphere at this school.
- I appreciate your honesty in addressing the challenges faced by current students.
- Take the opportunity–again–to reiterate your interest in the school.