Is it ever appropriate in an interview...

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Anonymous User
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Is it ever appropriate in an interview...

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:20 am

to give a (fairly legitimate) excuse for why your grades are not as high as they could be?

I've heard of some interviewers straight up asking why your grades aren't better, but that has never happened to me (my grades are still semi-decent--top third at a t30). I'd really like to explain that during law school my mother was diagnosed with cancer and then died a year later (both the diagnosis and the death were a month before finals), and so I was flying back home across the country nearly every weekend to take her to doctor's appts, help with her care, etc., not to mention the grieving.

I still managed to get okay grades, but my grades probably suffered because of this. Obviously there's a possibility I would have gotten the same or worse grades, but I doubt having more time to study would have affected my grades negatively.

Is it ever okay to tell an interviewer that? (e.g., I've had interviewers ask "So is there anything else I should know?") So far, I've kept silent about it, but I feel like it might be relevant information. Maybe not though. Any thoughts?

anon168
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Re: Is it ever appropriate in an interview...

Postby anon168 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:35 am

Anonymous User wrote:to give a (fairly legitimate) excuse for why your grades are not as high as they could be?

I've heard of some interviewers straight up asking why your grades aren't better, but that has never happened to me (my grades are still semi-decent--top third at a t30). I'd really like to explain that during law school my mother was diagnosed with cancer and then died a year later (both the diagnosis and the death were a month before finals), and so I was flying back home across the country nearly every weekend to take her to doctor's appts, help with her care, etc., not to mention the grieving.

I still managed to get okay grades, but my grades probably suffered because of this. Obviously there's a possibility I would have gotten the same or worse grades, but I doubt having more time to study would have affected my grades negatively.

Is it ever okay to tell an interviewer that? (e.g., I've had interviewers ask "So is there anything else I should know?") So far, I've kept silent about it, but I feel like it might be relevant information. Maybe not though. Any thoughts?


Sure, there's nothing wrong with providing an explanation and some background.

But just be careful to not make it into a self-pity cathartic session.

And just remember one thing. As with everything in life, it's not whether you encounter adversity in life, but how you handle adversity in life.

If you've crumbled like a deck of cards in law school in the face of adversity, what will happen to you in your legal career when you face adversity?

No one is begrudging you for your loss, which is undoubtedly terrible, but no one goes through life without some bumps and bruises.

Good luck.
Last edited by anon168 on Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

Anonymous User
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Re: Is it ever appropriate in an interview...

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:37 am

Anonymous User wrote:to give a (fairly legitimate) excuse for why your grades are not as high as they could be?

I've heard of some interviewers straight up asking why your grades aren't better, but that has never happened to me (my grades are still semi-decent--top third at a t30). I'd really like to explain that during law school my mother was diagnosed with cancer and then died a year later (both the diagnosis and the death were a month before finals), and so I was flying back home across the country nearly every weekend to take her to doctor's appts, help with her care, etc., not to mention the grieving.

I still managed to get okay grades, but my grades probably suffered because of this. Obviously there's a possibility I would have gotten the same or worse grades, but I doubt having more time to study would have affected my grades negatively.

Is it ever okay to tell an interviewer that? (e.g., I've had interviewers ask "So is there anything else I should know?") So far, I've kept silent about it, but I feel like it might be relevant information. Maybe not though. Any thoughts?


I was in a similar situation (mom diagnosed with cancer 1L year; grades suffered a bit; ended up top 1/4 at T40) and I never brought it up. I saw it as a legit reason rather than an excuse, but I still never said anything. I felt like no matter how I phrased my response it would come out/be interpreted the wrong way so I just kept quiet. Sorry for your loss man.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Is it ever appropriate in an interview...

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:46 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:to give a (fairly legitimate) excuse for why your grades are not as high as they could be?

I've heard of some interviewers straight up asking why your grades aren't better, but that has never happened to me (my grades are still semi-decent--top third at a t30). I'd really like to explain that during law school my mother was diagnosed with cancer and then died a year later (both the diagnosis and the death were a month before finals), and so I was flying back home across the country nearly every weekend to take her to doctor's appts, help with her care, etc., not to mention the grieving.

I still managed to get okay grades, but my grades probably suffered because of this. Obviously there's a possibility I would have gotten the same or worse grades, but I doubt having more time to study would have affected my grades negatively.

Is it ever okay to tell an interviewer that? (e.g., I've had interviewers ask "So is there anything else I should know?") So far, I've kept silent about it, but I feel like it might be relevant information. Maybe not though. Any thoughts?


I was in a similar situation (mom diagnosed with cancer 1L year; grades suffered a bit; ended up top 1/4 at T40) and I never brought it up. I saw it as a legit reason rather than an excuse, but I still never said anything. I felt like no matter how I phrased my response it would come out/be interpreted the wrong way so I just kept quiet. Sorry for your loss man.



Thanks. That's been my thought process too. I'm sorry about your mom as well. I know it sucks.

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jrf12886
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Re: Is it ever appropriate in an interview...

Postby jrf12886 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:05 pm

I think it's perfectly appropriate. If they ask the question, they obviously are concerned with your grades. Providing no explanation isn't going to help that situation. At that point, give the best explanation you can and hope they find it compelling.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Is it ever appropriate in an interview...

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:13 pm

I think if an interviewer asks about grades, of course you can bring it up. But I agree it's awfully difficult otherwise - for one thing, if you've made it to an interview, your grades are at least good enough to get you there, so may not be perceived as a problem (I realize that doesn't help when you want to get further and are being compared to people with better grades). Often, the best way to handle this is to let someone else bring it up for you - so, for instance, in a letter of recommendation, the person can say, "X got a B+ (or whatever) in my class, but was struggling with [your personal circumstances], and I'm convinced the grade isn't an accurate measure of X's ability." But of course, that only works for applications that require a LOR. If you have a reference who knows someone where you're interviewing, they might be able to call and give the explanation? But otherwise, I think it's kind of hard to raise it without an opening question that at least refers to grades in some way.

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jessuf
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Re: Is it ever appropriate in an interview...

Postby jessuf » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:29 pm

I would never voluntarily bring it up because it could be awkward. First, your grades aren't bad. 1/3 is pretty good. Second, if your grades were too bad for the firm, they wouldn't have interviewed you in the first place.

If asked, though, I would explain you had illness/death in the family, but don't go into too many details.

I think it's extremely douchey for someone to flat out ask "WHY ARE YOU TOP 1/3???" But I guess it's law, so what do you expect? I had someone ask me in a really confrontational manner about my grades when I happened to be really proud of my rank. I hope you get someone who (if they actually ask this annoying question) is capable of sympathy/empathy.




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