Law School Interviews
Interviews for professional schools are the same as interviews for jobs. In a job interview your job is to market yourself to an employer. In an interview for a professional school your job is to market yourself to the school. In other words, an interview is a "sales call." The interview and the other parts of your application file are for the purpose of "selling yourself" to the school.
A good question. Interviews consume a great deal of time. They are difficult to organize. Therefore, a school will conduct an interview because they think that a live interview will provide information that is not available from other parts of the application file. The application file is a careful and deliberate marketing initiative. Applicants have time to think about how to respond to the questions. Some applicants develop the file over a period of months. The interview will reveal how you respond to questions spontaneously. The way you answer questions and the content of your answers will assist in the process of image creation. These images will either confirm or contradict information in your file. Your "live performance" will reveal a great deal about you!
Any live contact with the school will leave an impression. This includes any telephone call or entry into the admissions office. Take steps to ensure that every time the school has any contact with you that you leave a positive image. I know of one law student who had been placed on the waiting list. During the summer she called to ask about the status of her application. During this conversation she had a lengthy discussion with the admissions officer. She left the admissions officer with a definite impression about what kind of person she was. The next day she received an offer of acceptance. She feels that her informal conversation with the admissions officer was part of the reason she was admitted. Therefore, you should treat any interaction with the school as being part of an ongoing interview!
Law schools rarely conduct interviews. Business schools sometimes conduct interviews. Medical schools are likely to conduct interviews and they are an important part of the process of applying to medical school.
I am aware of only one law school that interviews applicants in the regular applicant category and that school does not interview all applicants in that category. At this particular school many applicants are admitted without an interview. An invitation to an interview is no guarantee of acceptance. Many applicants who are interviewed are rejected. For most applicants in the "regular applicant" category, interviews are not part of the application process. Some U.S. schools invite applicants on the waiting list to an interview.
Many applicants in the "mature" or other residual categories can expect an interview to be part of the admissions process. Interviews are not granted to all applicants. Therefore, the interview is something that is achieved based on the strength of the application file.
Imagine yourself to be a lawyer who is required to argue a case before a court made up of judges. The court requires that you first submit your arguments in writing. You then have the opportunity to make an oral presentation which is to be largely based on your written material. The judges will have read your written material in advance. They may begin by asking you questions about it. Although these questions will control the direction that the hearing will take, through your answers you are anxious to control the content. Although you are anxious to answer any questions that you are asked, there are some specific facts that you want to ensure the court hears about. You are given one hour to make your oral arguments on a fixed day at an appointed time. On that day your job is to deliver the most effective presentation possible and to answer the judges questions in an effective way. You cannot anticipate all the questions. Therefore, it is important that you are sufficiently flexible to respond to anything that might be asked. Furthermore, you know that your presentation will be most effective if you engage the judges in a dialogue. This will keep the presentation more interesting. Not only must you be an effective lawyer. You must look like an effective lawyer. Therefore, you understand that you must be well groomed and well dressed. As the date for your court presentation draws near, you attempt to learn the identity of the judges who will actually hear your case. You learn anything else that you can about the court.
The lawyer's written arguments are analogous to the application file without the interview. The oral arguments are analogous to the interview.
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Interviews, when used, are the final step of the marketing process. If the school goes to the trouble to interview you, the interview will be a major factor in determining your fate!
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Reproduced with permission from Mastering
The LSAT - How To Prepare
Effectively And Successfully. Copyright John Richardson 1994, 1998, 2000.
All Rights Reserved.