How to address a bad semester in an interview?

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Anonymous User
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How to address a bad semester in an interview?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:14 am

Bad fall grades, great spring grades. Career services tells me not to worry as the grades will likely not come up, but I feel like they might since I'm aiming high and I'm sure firms will want to know why they should overlook my fall grades. Any personal experience in this matter would be great.

Bad grades were caused by a combination of severe illness and a general misunderstanding of how to study for law school (I don't think that if I had not been ill I would have done much better). Steep rise in grades second semester by studying harder, smarter, talking to professors to figure out what I did wrong, reading all the law school exam books, and not being deathly ill.

Thoughts?

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Devlin
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Re: How to address a bad semester in an interview?

Postby Devlin » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:00 pm

Use the question as an opportunity to highlight your improvement in spring. If asked don't focus on excuses on why your fall grades were low (still give a brief reason - don't want to side step the question), but instead, focus on how you improved, worked harder, etc. for spring.

Anonymous User
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Re: How to address a bad semester in an interview?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:38 pm

Related question from someone in a similar situation: should I be targeting firms with median GPAs higher than my own (ie closer to my 2nd semester GPA than my cumulative)?

I worked for a few years before law school, so I could spin it by arguing my 2nd semester more accurately reflects my abilities. This would only work if firms tend to look at transcripts and not just overall GPA.

071816
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Re: How to address a bad semester in an interview?

Postby 071816 » Tue Jun 09, 2015 1:42 pm

"I shit the bed, boss."

Anonymous User
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Re: How to address a bad semester in an interview?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:00 pm

Word on the street is that all that matters is overall GPA.

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nothingtosee
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Re: How to address a bad semester in an interview?

Postby nothingtosee » Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:36 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Word on the street is that all that matters is overall GPA.


Strong anon move

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njdevils2626
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Re: How to address a bad semester in an interview?

Postby njdevils2626 » Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:51 pm

Devlin wrote:Use the question as an opportunity to highlight your improvement in spring. If asked don't focus on excuses on why your fall grades were low (still give a brief reason - don't want to side step the question), but instead, focus on how you improved, worked harder, etc. for spring.


Question about this, specifically. I'm in a pretty similar situation, but I believe my fall grades were caused by breaking my wrist and having surgery on it the week of fall finals. I think it pretty severely handicapped me, since I was refused extra time, and think Spring is definitely a better representation of my ability. But if this comes across as too much of an excuse, then I'd like to know how else I should try to spin it

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Re: How to address a bad semester in an interview?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:49 pm

Background:
3.14 first semester
3.50 second semester
1L cumulative GPA slightly above median
T14
Currently SA at a V10

Grades came up in almost every single interview I had where I was clearly below the grade cutoff (not in the screener for my current V10, but it was brought up during the callback). I usually answered the grade questions along these lines:

"It was a difficult transition to law school and my first time taking law school exams. I didn't do as well as I had liked. I talked to my fall professors at the start of 1L spring to learn what I did wrong and what I did right and made changes to my study habits and how I approached exam questions. I believe that led to my grades rising second semester, and I believe my performance second semester is more indicative of how I will perform for the rest of law school."

Obviously this will only work if you have an upward grade trend, and a firm could theoretically condition an offer on grades continuing to go up (my firm didn't do that, but I haven't dipped below a 3.50 since that first semester). I also sometimes noted the fact that the same thing happened to me in undergrad: first semester of undergrad was my worst, rest of the time was great.

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Re: How to address a bad semester in an interview?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Background:
3.14 first semester
3.50 second semester
1L cumulative GPA slightly above median
T14
Currently SA at a V10

Grades came up in almost every single interview I had where I was clearly below the grade cutoff (not in the screener for my current V10, but it was brought up during the callback). I usually answered the grade questions along these lines:

"It was a difficult transition to law school and my first time taking law school exams. I didn't do as well as I had liked. I talked to my fall professors at the start of 1L spring to learn what I did wrong and what I did right and made changes to my study habits and how I approached exam questions. I believe that led to my grades rising second semester, and I believe my performance second semester is more indicative of how I will perform for the rest of law school."

Obviously this will only work if you have an upward grade trend, and a firm could theoretically condition an offer on grades continuing to go up (my firm didn't do that, but I haven't dipped below a 3.50 since that first semester). I also sometimes noted the fact that the same thing happened to me in undergrad: first semester of undergrad was my worst, rest of the time was great.


Very Helpful, thanks!

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

Re: How to address a bad semester in an interview?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 10, 2015 12:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Background:
3.14 first semester
3.50 second semester
1L cumulative GPA slightly above median
T14
Currently SA at a V10

Grades came up in almost every single interview I had where I was clearly below the grade cutoff (not in the screener for my current V10, but it was brought up during the callback). I usually answered the grade questions along these lines:

"It was a difficult transition to law school and my first time taking law school exams. I didn't do as well as I had liked. I talked to my fall professors at the start of 1L spring to learn what I did wrong and what I did right and made changes to my study habits and how I approached exam questions. I believe that led to my grades rising second semester, and I believe my performance second semester is more indicative of how I will perform for the rest of law school."

Obviously this will only work if you have an upward grade trend, and a firm could theoretically condition an offer on grades continuing to go up (my firm didn't do that, but I haven't dipped below a 3.50 since that first semester). I also sometimes noted the fact that the same thing happened to me in undergrad: first semester of undergrad was my worst, rest of the time was great.


So I take it you applied heavily to firms where your overall GPA was below the cutoff. Did you find most firms looked at your full transcript in making their decisions?




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