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Law School Admissions Tip: Interview Etiquette

Posted in Test Prep on November 24, 2010 by

Every other Wednesday, our friends at Clear Admit will share one of their excellent tips for navigating the law school admissions process. For more advice, be sure to check out their blog.

Though only a handful of law schools conduct interviews, we want to turn our attention to this step in the admissions process and share a few basic pointers on interview etiquette for the applicants who find themselves faced with an upcoming interview. Here are a few guidelines for interviewing applicants to keep in mind:

1) Dress the part. Unless meeting with an alum who explicitly specifies a more casual dress code, assume that business attire is appropriate. We recommend that applicants dress conservatively, opting for a dark suit (pants or skirt are both fine for women, though skirt suits are considered to be more conservative than pants in some parts of the country), a blue or white shirt, a tie for gentleman, and business-appropriate shoes. Steer clear of flashy brand gear and loud ties, and go easy on makeup and fragrances; you want to be remembered for what you say and who you are, not what you wore.

2) Review your materials. Because it’s important that you reinforce your positioning during the interview, reading over your essays and reflecting on the themes presented in your application is a great first step in preparing to speak about your ideas and objectives.

3) Tell them something they don’t know. In addition to reinforcing your existing message, the interview is also a great time to expand on or add new information to your file via the interviewer’s notes. Have there been any major developments in your candidacy that you should share? Have you visited the campus or spoken with students since submitting your written materials? If you have an example from work, school, or an activity that relates to the interview question but didn’t fit into your personal statement or other essays, it’s a great idea to include these, thus approaching the interview with the goal of enhancing the admissions committee’s knowledge of your candidacy.

It’s also common for interviews to be blind, which means that the interviewer does not review your materials prior to meeting with you. In these cases, you should focus on presenting a coherent story for your candidacy that would supplement the adcom’s understanding of your qualifications and personality that they glean from your written materials.

4) Anticipate and practice. Using historical data over the years, we know that in admissions interviews law schools ask a variation on the following questions:
a) What are you doing these days/what have you been doing recently (i.e. since submitting your application)?
b) Why law school?
c) Why is school X the right choice for you?

In addition, you should be prepared to be questioned about your academic and/or professional history, personal strengths and weaknesses, and career goals. It’s a good idea to not only reflect on what you might say in response, but to actually practice articulating your responses before the interview.

5) Follow up. Make sure that you get your interviewer’s card and take his or her contact information in order to send a “thank you” email within 24 hours of the interview. This is not only common courtesy, but could also serve as the first step in forging a lasting correspondence.

Best of luck to all those who are preparing for interviews!