Here’s everything you need to know about law school interviews–what they are, how to prepare for them, and what to expect. Note: Registration is already open for many law school interviews!
What is the purpose of the interview? In addition to admission, law schools might use the interview to screen candidates for scholarships, research opportunities, or special programs such as law school ambassadors. It is definitely worth an applicant’s time and effort to take the interview seriously.
The Illinois Career Center holds Mock Interviews for student. Mock interviews provide an opportunity to practice interviewing and receive feedback in preparation for actual interviews. Click here to schedule a mock interview
Know what kind of interviews your law schools offer
- Research your law schools’ websites to see whether and what format of interview is offered. We posted a list of known interview types by school over on our Compass page.
- First come, first served interviews–Some law schools offer interview slots to all applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Group interviews–Some schools like Georgetown will offer group interviews in selected cities. Visit their website here for details.
- By invitation only–some law schools like University of Chicago choose to interview applicants after applications are submitted and by invitation only.
- Recorded interviews. Some law schools are now offering applicants the opportunity to record an interview. Usually this is how it works: You are given a prompt, and then 2-3 minutes to think about that prompt. Then the webcam records you for a few minutes while you give your answer to the prompt.
- TIP: Make sure that you look professional and are in a quiet place without interruptions. Also, take a picture with your webcam before the interview so that you can see what’s behind you…you may be surprised to see that pile of laundry or unmade bed in the background.
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 social media.
- Do be prepared with specific talking points about the school that interest you: A particular journal, clinic, moot court, externship, or certificate program is a good example.
- Avoid general platitudes 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 “What are your career goals?” or “Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?,” or even “Why do you want to be a lawyer?” and you should be prepared to discuss your career interests.
- Decide how you will address the inevitable “What are your strengths and weaknesses” question.
- Behavioral interviewing. This mode of interviewing will ask you to “Tell me about a time when…” For example, you’ll be asked to tell about a time when you resolved a conflict, managed a team project, made a mistake, or made a big decision.
- Practice. Sign up for a mock interview with Career Services, or have a lawyer/professor/trusted person sit down with you and ask you mock 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 so interesting to hear your perspective on the unique qualities of this school.
- I appreciate your candid advice for prospective law students.
- Take the opportunity–again–to reiterate your interest in the school.
Changes to Northwestern University Early Decision Process
- Applicants must submit their ED application before having an interview
- Upon submission of your application the Office of Admissions will send you an invitation and detailed instructions to complete the interview
- ALL ED interviews must be held ONLINE
- Completion of an online video interview is a requirement for ED applicants
- Applicants admitted through the ED program will receive a $120,000 merit scholarship, split evenly over the three years of their legal education.