Anonymous User wrote:
FWIW, I went through 4 district court clerkship interviews before finally landing one. The first three was on The Plan, whereas the fourth was off-plan (applied as an alum). Not a single judge asked me about substantive legal questions. All of them were "getting to know you" type questions.
Turnaround on my on-plan interviews were quite fast. One week at the latest. My off-plan judge took almost a month to get back to me, but that's not so unusual for off-plan hiring.
Judges -- be they district or appellate -- lead lonely (albeit powerful) lives. Their only real interaction with the "real" world is through their clerks.
So most judges will use the interview less to determine whether you are brilliant (because if you weren't you probably wouldn't have an interview to begin with) and more to determine whether you are the type of person he enjoys being around. In other words, can you carry on a conversation with him/her about your hobbies or interests, or his interests? Do you lead an interesting life? Can you make him laugh?
This will sound weird, but consider it like trying to pick up a girl at a bar, but without the sexual innuendos. You're trying to get the judge to go out with you -- for a year (or two).
Also, while the bulk of what matters is your actual tete-a-tete with the judge, be advised that the moment you enter the courthouse you are on "interview". So what does that mean? Be nice to the Marshals, be nice to the judges courtroom deputy (if you meet him/her), and most definitely be your nicest to the judge's judicial assistant -- treat him/her like she's the Queen of England.
I think this is part of it, but I think in many chambers the clerks are responsible for testing your intellectual mettle. Just to contribute my anecdotal $0.02, the clerks seemed to do more of the academic legwork than the judge in many of my interviews. This is from the handful of COA interviews I had, so the above poster may be more relevant for OP's inquiry -- but to contribute the general discussion, only one of the judges I interviewed with asked legal analysis-type questions. For the other interviews, the clerks handled what I'd like to consider impromptu moot court in interview form -- handling a rapidfire series of questions re: some part of the law that you might have worked with or well-known standards of law (e.g., what do you think about the Court's decision in X, and how do you think it could be improved?). I have no idea if this is actually true (as I haven't started my clerkship yet), but I feel like the clerks report back to the judge to provide feedback on the intellectual side, and the judge makes his/her own call on the fit of the clerk w/r/t chambers.
But I might be wrong on this -- again, completely anecdotal. The hiring process for each chambers in a single courthouse could vary tremendously, so your experience may be different. But good luck!
P.S.: My post above is not a model of grammatical precision or coherence. 12 hours of bar studying can really fry your brain.