Have you ever felt nervous before an interview? One of my college friends was always petrified of the interview process, afraid of embarrassing herself or being unable to think of an appropriate answer to a tricky question on the spot. Consequently, I’ve been involved with quite a few mock interviews over the past few years, posing as the interviewer the night before her meeting to help her practice and allay her fears.
This semester, however, I had the opportunity to practice honing my own interviewing skills when the Legal Practice Program partnered with the law school’s Office of Career Services (OCS) for the Alumni Mock Interview Program. This program began with representatives from OCS giving a presentation on interviewing techniques in every 1L’s Legal Practice class. In class the following week, we watched some demonstration videos illustrating examples of successful interviews and those that missed the mark. After watching the clips, we had the opportunity to critique them as a class. We also split into pairs and practiced interviewing with a classmate so we could practice fielding difficult questions in a friendly atmosphere.
Finally, the program culminated on January 30th, when each member of the 1L class was assigned to have a mock interview with a William & Mary Law School alum. To make the experience as rewarding as possible, the Office of Career Services assigned students to an interviewer from a field that matches our potential legal interests. For example, I’m tentatively interested in practicing family and elder law at a small firm, and my alumni interviewer – who started his own small firm – specialized in juvenile dependency. To make conditions as realistic as possible, students were asked to dress professionally and conduct some preliminary research on the interviewer’s work.
Admittedly, I was a little nervous before going into my interview; however, my interviewer was extremely friendly and clearly excited to be back at his alma mater, helping to train the next generation of lawyers. After a nice twenty-five minute conversation and a few minutes of helpful feedback, he sent me on my way, feeling more confident in my ability to be professional and express myself in the interview setting.
This mock interview program couldn’t have come at a better time, since my classmates and I are beginning to be called in to interview for summer internship positions. Next week, for example, I head to Richmond for an interview at the Government & Public Interest Interview Program (expect an update on that in my next blog post!). Although I’m sure I’ll still have butterflies in my stomach before the interview, at least I can go into the program knowing that William & Mary has given me a unique opportunity to develop interviewing skills, and has given me the tools I need to succeed.
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