1L Interviewing, Part 1: The Alumni Mock Interview Program

brownby Cathy Brown, Class of  2017

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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Mock Interviews– Connecting 1Ls with Alumni

liz berryby Liz Berry, Class of 2016

It’s interview season for 1L’s and the pressure is on. For 1L’s straight out of undergrad (like yours truly) interviews with potential legal employers are a whole new world. And frankly, slightly daunting. I’m fairly certain in my first interview, I forgot my first name. I believe the interview went something like: You want to know my name and why I wanted to go to law school? Um, those are very good questions. Let me get back to you on that…

And what’s the best way to overcome interview jitters (and remember your name)? Practice, practice, practice. I’ve found that the more interviews I’ve done over the past month or so, the more confident I’ve become. The Office of Career Services had been so helpful in prepping for interviews. I’ve worked with my Dean about how to answer certain questions and, best of all, OCS set up an entire Mock Interview Day. W&M Law alumni from various legal fields were invited to campus on Friday morning, and any 1L who signed up had a “mock” but very real feeling interview with someone in a field they were interested in.

My interview was with an Assistant Attorney General of Virginia (which was perfect, since I’m interning with the Ohio Attorney General this summer. Good work matching us up, OCS).  And while this time I didn’t forget my first name, my interviewer asked some hard questions for which I was slightly unprepared. And honestly, I think that was the best thing that could have happened. I learned how to think on my toes, and the feedback I received after the interview ended gave me a better idea of ways to answer when I’m unprepared. My interviewer spent at least fifteen minutes giving me advice on how to give better answers, and how to better present myself in the future. (Sorry to the person who was interviewing after me…I was so caught up in chatting with my interviewer we may have blown past the 30 minute mark. But really, doesn’t that just show how much our alumni are willing to help? Love it.)

Overall, I think the practice interview was a very valuable experience. Interviews can only get easier from here on out…or at least I’ll be more comfortable with them. And that’s all I can ask for.

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