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Summary: While the questions can be a bit disarming, law school interviews need to be taken seriously through preparation and creative thinking.
The law school interview is an important step toward getting into law school.
The interview is designed to find out who you are as a person, which grades, essays and other materials simply won’t do.
Sure, the questions may seem somewhat off the rails, but they’re supposed to be that way.
Your job is to navigate around those questions while showing the true traits and characteristics of yourself.
A law school interview is very similar to a job interview. Job interviews are conducted to not only find out if you can perform the tasks of the job, but to also find out if you will be a good fit in the business as a whole.
The same is true with law school interviews. Of course you should approach law school interviews much in the same way you’d approach a job interview. You should be:
The objective of law school interviews is to not find out if you are or are not a good student; that has already been surmised through your undergraduate grades and the LSAT.
No, law school interviews explore who you are as a person, what your personality is like, and will you be a strong addition or a disappointing detriment to the law school in general.
Of course as you can imagine, law school interviews aren’t conducted with canned or stock questions such as, “Why do you want to go to our law school?” Or “What makes you believe you will be a good lawyer?”
Everyone knows why a particular (and potential) legal student wants to go to a certain law school – because they think the school provides a strong legal education, though most of all it’s because that potential student believes he or she can get into that law school.
Then there’s “What makes you believe you will be a good lawyer?” which is a canned question worthy of a canned answer such as:
I want to help people with legal issues.
I like to argue with others.
I’m detail oriented.
I like law.
I want to make a lot of money.
Okay, so those are all legitimate answers, though the last answer can raise some eyebrows.
What real law school interviews are supposed to do is find out who you are beneath the superfluous and obvious answers bulleted above.
And that’s why so many prospective law students stumble during their law school interviews: They expect the generic and superfluous questions when what they instead receive are one-off queries about who they are as a person; answers to a question, mind you, that aren’t so easy to give.
What types of questions are asked in law school interviews?
Law school interview questions are a bit hard to pin down.
According to U.S. News and World Report in their article How to Tackle Wacky Law School Interview Questions, even if a prospective legal student has prepped themselves to the best of their abilities, they are likely to face off-kilter questions that might leave them stumped.
Nailing the answers is a matter of understanding that the questions themselves aren’t important. What’s important is what the questions are trying to gauge.
What are some examples of these types of questions?
Question #1: “If you could be any character in history, who would you be and why?” Or a variant could be: “Which person, alive or dead, would you most want to have dinner with?”
As the U.S. News and World Report article states, a question like this is designed to measure intellectual curiosity and quick thinking in a law school candidate.
Even so, in answer to this question, you should choose a person you know quite a bit about, and provide solid reasoning as to why you picked them. If asked, you can answer, “I want to see how the decision to do X was made” to “I want to have the opportunity to be around these people and witness this important event in history."
Keep in mind that you will want to hit a happy medium with this question. You shouldn’t pick someone that everyone else will such as Barack Obama or Donald Trump. Nor should you pick someone so obscure the interviewer won’t really relate to the answer.
Another trap to avoid is picking a family member: To be sure your grandfather probably did have a compelling life story, but as the article states, picking a relative is not only cliché, but – try as you may to explain this relative – the interviewer knows nothing about him or her.
Given this, you don’t want the answer to revolve around a detailed account of a relative’s life story, when in reality of this point, no one cares.
Question #2: “What is something common that most people do in a certain way, but you do differently?”
This question measures a prospective law school student’s uniqueness and problem solving skills.
Your answer to this question should be completely unique. You have to own this question, make it your own, and when you answer, give a reply that sticks in the interviewer’s mind.
With this question your answer should as well separate you from the stack of other applications that still need to be read, re-read then considered.
The U.S. News and World Report article suggests you focus on something a little whimsical to help showcase your creativity and logical reasoning.
Be unique, but also be creative.
Question #3: “Would you say you’ve had an easy life?”
What is being measured here is a student’s self-awareness and assertiveness.
Simply because this is a strange question that not many people, law school candidates included are asked, this sort of query can damage an otherwise perfect candidate’s chances, especially those of a more privileged upbringing.
Where this could trip up a law student is it can create a fear inside the student that might tell them they’ve never really had to face adversity and yet would crumple under the pressure of law school.
Consider how it would look if you suggested your adversity entailed a semester as an undergraduate when you took 20 credits as proof of how difficult your life can be at times, while another law school candidate may come from poverty or persecution, and in that, find it miraculous that they are interviewing for law school in the first place.
No, it’s best in this case to be honest and answer that you’ve had a relatively nice upbringing and acknowledge how lucky you are for that.
Recognizing this, The U.S. News and World Report article suggests you might want to add how during your legal career you may want to help those less fortunate by doing pro bono work, which might alleviate some of the privileged aspects of your life that the interviewers could perceive.
Are there any right or wrong answers?
Because of the subjective nature of law school interviews, there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. These questions instead seek to know your character, and eventually if admitted into the law school with who you’re interviewing, how you will represent that school once you become a fully licensed attorney.
Of course these are not specifics. Each law school is going to have their own unique questions.
Nonetheless it is virtually guaranteed that any laws school’s interview questions will be thought provoking and thus need careful analysis by the hopeful student before being answered.
To that end, an incoming law student will need to know that these interviews will have to be faced with an open mind and honesty about who they are as a person.
There’s simply no way around that fact.
While the law school interview may seem a bit frivolous in its own right, honestly the interview process is nothing of the sort. It is an important evaluation of who you are now and might be in the future. Will you or will you not be a risk to the law school’s reputation? Or will you be a benefit to the school as an alumnus?
Take the law school interview with as much seriousness as you will have to take a law firm interview once you graduate from law school. In fact use your law school interviews as experience for the upcoming law firm interviews you’ll face once you graduate in three years. At that point, you’ll be ahead of the game…at least as interviews are concerned.
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