Facebook pixel Professional Interviewing | Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Skip to main content
Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Professional Interviewing

Before the Interview


  1. Research the organization and interviewers.
  2. Use Google, Firm website, LinkedIn, Nalp.org, Martindale.com, WestlawNext, FindLaw.com


  1. Know the employer's needs.
  2. Know your strengths and weaknesses and be prepared to discuss.
  3. Evaluate your resume from the employer's perspective and position description.
  4. Assess what you hope to gain in experience from the employer.
  5. Use this analysis about yourself to develop talking points, questions and self-confidence.

Know Your Materials

  1. Know your resume. This is your launch pad. Be ready to discuss every detail and reference.
  2. Know your writing sample and be prepared to discuss it.

Prepare to discuss grades

  1. Less than top grades are not fatal to your candidacy.
  2. If the employer invited you for an interview, there is interest in you.
  3. Grades are only one criterion among many in a hiring decision.
  4. Employers understand that grades do not predict success or subsequent performance.
  5. If your grades are not as strong as you hoped, don't make excuses.
  6. Explain your strategies for improving and emphasize your strengths.
  7. Develop talking points about your grades.


  1. Practice by yourself. Rehearse responses and say them out loud.
  2. Sample interview questions are posted on the CDO TWEN site.
  3. Practice with a friend. This will help you get comfortable. Ask for feedback.
  4. Practice with mock interviews. The CDO will host mock interviews.
  5. Schedule a mock interview with CDO, or a member of the faculty or administration.

NOTE: Mock interviews are, by far, the best way to prepare and build confidence.

After the Interview

Send Thank You Notes

  1. After you leave the interview, immediately write down notes about what was discussed.
  2. Send an email within 24 hours after your interview to each interviewer.
  3. Send a hand written note to judges.
  4. If they don't provide a clear timeline for decisions, call or email your interview contact after 7-10 business days.

The Interview

Purpose of an Interview

  1. To make a first impression. Demonstrate your credibility and likeability.
  2. Demonstrate competence, intelligence, and personality. Opportunity to sell yourself.
  3. Allows the employer to determine whether you are a good fit.

What should I bring to the Interview?

  1. Extra copies of your resume, List of references, Writing sample, Unofficial transcript.
  2. Put everything in a nice portfolio.

First Impressions Matter

  1. Be on time. Arrive 10-15 minutes early.
  2. The first few minutes of the interview are critical. Interviewers generally know the type of person they are looking for. This almost always includes confident, pleasant, engaging.
  3. Be polite to the entire staff including receptionists etc. Interviewers will ask staff about their impressions of candidates.
  4. Be dignified, confident, and friendly. Maintain good posture.
  5. Give a firm handshake and make eye contact and smile.
  6. Listen and adapt to the interviewer's demeanor and interview culture.
  7. Avoid colloquial words and phrases like "like". Don't fidget.

Dress like a Lawyer

  1. Women: Dark skirt or pant suit.
    1. Do's: Skirt length to top of knee; subtle jewelry, hair, make-up, nails; cover tattoos.
    2. Don'ts: Low cut, sleeveless, or shear blouse; textured stockings; strappy, platform or open toe shoes.
  2. Men: Dark suit, light shirt, tie.
    1. Do's: Freshly shaven; haircut; cover tattoos.
    2. Don'ts: Spiked hair, sport coat and slacks; skinny ties or other trendy clothing items.

Questions the Interviewers May Ask

Tell me about yourself. What do you know about our organization? Why did you choose to pursue a legal career? What courses have you liked most? Least? What is your greatest strength? What are some of your weaknesses? Why do you want to work for us? Where to do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? Why should I hire you?

Approach to Answering Tough Questions

  1. Take a breath. Consider your answer. Provide a brief answer and explain in concise detail.
  2. End on a positive note.

Ultimate Goal: The interviewers concluding that you are exceptionally:

Confident. Credible. Capable.

The way to achieve this is by being honest, engaged, pleasant, and unshakeable.