How to Reform the Law School Interview Process


It’s open interview season in law school. Aggressive 2Ls are already applying for summer 2013 positions, 3Ls are scrambling to figure out what to do with their lives and where to send their résumés, and on and off campus interviews are happening all the time.

Classmates in suits, excessive social media updates about “big kid jobs” or “getting a call back”, subtle (and not so subtle) questions about whether someone got an interview . . . it’s all awful.  Job prospects seem dismal at best and the application process is no fun for anyone.

Greetings! Here is my résumé, as well as my cover letter which you’ll probably only reading to make sure I got the firm name and “you’re/your” usage correct. (Don’t worry, I did. I was an English major in a past life). Please select me for an interview so you can put a face with the name in that 16 point Garamond font. We’ll chat briefly about the weather or parking, one of us will politely laugh at the other person’s mediocre joke.  Then, you’ll dive into the typical awkward questions; I’ll smile and spit back the appropriate canned answers. We’ll shake hands and mutually agree about how nice it was to meet, and when the door shuts behind me, we’ll both sigh, wondering, “How many more of these things do I have to do??”

Here’s what comes to mind most of the time when I see some needless update about someone getting an interview: what if the interviewer knew them like I do? What if interviewers also interviewed a classmate of the candidate to get a classmate’s eye view, if you will? We could call them the Interview Informant (or something similar). Sure, there would have to be some rules in place to prevent bribery or dishonesty or people trying to stack the deck for their friends, and there would probably have be an interview process to create an Interviewer Informant, but those formalities and practicalities aside . . .

Employers would get someone who could give them the real story behind Candidate #2’s seemingly short summer employment (Hint: it wasn’t because she “wanted to study for the MPRE” two months early as claimed.), or what Candidate #4 acts like in the classroom (“He’s such a tool there’s audible disdain when he raises his hand.”), or how Candidate #6 interacts with others when assigned group work (If the project is to develop excuses as to why he can’t meet with the group/do anything, he’s got it in the bag.). Nice classmates benefit, too. There isn’t a section on a résumé for being the person people call the night before a final, begging to have that legal canon explained “just one more time.” Nor is there a spot for “most genuinely liked classmate” or “always the DD, never the drunk” or “my hair is so big because I’m keeping everyone’s secrets.” Even if there was a place for it, those people probably wouldn’t include those things because they’re too modest. There also isn’t a place for such vital information like you’re wildly selfish, self confident beyond all reason, a passive aggressive monster, two-faced, amazing at playing the victim, or just plain rude. Not that anyone would ever say that about you.  You’re not like that. You’re just so talented and intelligent that everyone is jealous of you.

In turn, the Interviewer  Informant could ask the interviewers some questions; turn the tables a little bit. How did that person get a call back? How did you pick this group of people to begin with? Tell me you only called that kid because you know his dad – there are kids still in high school with better résumés. Then the Interviewer  Informant gains some insight as to what employers (or at least that employer) really look for, because it’s doubtful that anyone is too concerned about applicants’ Lexis and Westlaw training.

This is a win-win-win, as long as you’re not an asshole. If you are, then it’s a win-win-lose. And if you’re so much of an asshole that you don’t get hired because of what an Informant told the interviewer, then who cares if you lost? It’s an interesting twist on the idea of law school karma – the ability to “pay back” people who have been awful or people who have been awesome. We’ll all get that chance sooner or later anyway; this way just provides more instant gratification. One positive outcome that would likely come from this idea: if anyone and everyone is potentially an Interview Informant, law school assholes will learn to play nice and respect their fellow classmates for once – at least until they get a job offer.

Post image from Shutterstock.

Not all blonde lawyers or law students want to be the next Elle Woods. Though she has since graduated from law school, you can still find Not an Elle on Twitter @NotanElle or on her own site at thenotanelleblog.com

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