Interview Anxiety

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Anonymous User
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Interview Anxiety

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 24, 2013 5:03 pm

I just got an interview offer with my top choice district judge. It is in a couple weeks and I was wondering if anyone had tips on how to prepare? How many people do district judges normally interview for each spot? Also, what is usually the turnaround time from interview to offer? I really want this and have stats a little below what you would normally expect. I would appreciate all advice.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Interview Anxiety

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri May 24, 2013 5:17 pm

Well, the first thing to keep in mind is that if the judge is interviewing you, they think you're qualified to do the job. So don't worry about your stats and any perceived inadequacies.

Unfortunately, as to how many people each judge interviews, and turnaround time, it varies a lot. Some judges interview 2-3 per slot, some 4, some 5; some judges make an offer on the spot to the first person they like, some wait to interview a number of people then offer, and so on. Your best bet is to find someone who's clerked for this judge and ask them.

As to how to prepare - a lot of judges do "getting to know you interviews," where they're really looking to gauge how well you'd fit into chambers and such. I mean, they'll ask about what you want to do, why law school, why you want to clerk, that kind of thing. Some will grill you on everything on your resume like you're defending a dissertation (one friend of mine got grilled on his LR note for a good 15-20 minutes). So again, it varies. Know your resume inside and out, maybe research what you can about the judge/docket/district (for COA it's often useful to read the judge's opinions to get a sense of their approach/writing, but I think that's less significant for district judges). Prepare questions for the judge and clerks (usually about how the chambers works/work is distributed, that kind of thing).

Good luck!

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Re: Interview Anxiety

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 24, 2013 5:20 pm

1. Every district court judge is different. When I was going through the interview process, I saw a wide range of styles. One judge interviewed about a dozen applicants for two spots. Another judge in the same courthouse interviewed about 20 applicants for two spots. A third judge (different city) interviewed 7-8 applicants for one spot. And the fourth judge (with whom I'm currently clerking) interviewed about 25 applicants for three spots.

2. Turnaround time also varies. My judge didn't get back to me until about a month after my interview. But lots of other judges will give offers on the spot. Again, there's no way to generalize here.

3. In terms of preparation, I would suggest two things. First, know your writing sample inside and out. There's a good chance the judge won't even ask you about it, but in case he does, you need to be prepared. Second, review your resume and be prepared to talk about any given point--whether it be about a past internship or a hobby--intelligently and articulately. But above all else, try to remain calm. Yes, the interview is a big deal. But judges usually use them as a gauge for personality fit. If you're visibly nervous or fidgety, that won't work in your favor.

lolwat
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Re: Interview Anxiety

Postby lolwat » Fri May 24, 2013 5:21 pm

Way too much variation between judges for anyone other than the judges' previous clerks to give you any solid info.

That said, has anyone from your school clerked for that judge in the past? That's who I'd reach out to for questions.

Just to give you some examples, some judges (apparently) ask pretty substantive questions, while others literally ask you little to nothing substantive (if they gave you an interview, they generally know you can do the work) and just want to talk to you for an hour to see if they'll enjoy working with you for a year. Also, some judges hire as they interview, others wait until the end of their hiring schedule to make their choices, etc. so it could be 1 interview per spot and the judge will just look for more people to interview if the first couple don't work out, or it could be like 5-10 interviews per spot.

Absent being able to talk to a previous clerk, the best way to prepare is to literally prepare for everything. As with every interview, you should know everything about your resume (and remaining application packet--including writing sample which is often brought up at interviews), you should be ready to talk about yourself and your interests, etc. But you should also probably read the judges' recent published opinions (especially if s/he doesn't publish many opinions), any big cases that they've had recently, etc. Also, you said your stats are a little lower--was there anything else on your resume that would've stood out? If there is, that's something you'll probably be talking about.

Turnaround time can be either immediate to around 2 weeks in my experience. They'll tell you when you should expect to hear.

(... Yeah, same stuff as already said above. I'm just slower than them.)

Edit: oh, some judges have you interview with the clerks (either with the judge, or separately, but you meet and talk to them), but I've also had at least two judges that didn't do this--my only interaction with their clerks during those interviews was waving at them and saying "Hi" as the judge gave me a brief tour of the chambers and stuff.

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Re: Interview Anxiety

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 24, 2013 10:41 pm

OP here.

I talked to a former clerk today and was told that their interview was nothing substantive, chatting about their resume, and the vast majority was the clerk asking questions about what it was like to work there and stuff like that. This was my biggest problem during big firm recruiting. What kinds of questions should I be asking? I feel like these kinds of interviews are the ones that I'm by far weakest at. I would much prefer the grilling interrogation type interview to the relaxed "ask me anything" type interview. Advice? Suggestions?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Interview Anxiety

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri May 24, 2013 11:27 pm

Here are some questions I've used/seen applicants use:

- What kinds of qualities are you looking for in a clerk?
- How is the chambers work divided?
- What kind of work do you look for from your clerks? (I'm not wording that well - getting at whether you do a lot of bench memos vs. written orders, also to what extent the judge edits clerks' writing - there's probably better way to put this)
- What does a clerk's typical day look like?
- What are the types of cases do you see and what is the size of the docket?
- How frequent are trials? What role do your clerks play during trial?

Also, you could ask a judge how s/he decided they wanted to become a judge, what they like most about the job, what they find the most difficult - most people like talking about themselves. :)

Talking to clerks, you could ask things like:

- How hands-on is the judge with clerks' work/how involved is the judge with written work?
- How accessible is the judge to the clerks and what kind of feedback do clerks get?
- How much time do clerks spend in the courtroom?
- How much contact do clerks have with attorneys?
- What do you like about working with the judge/what do you like best/worst about your job?

For both clerks and judge, if they've been in the position for a while, you could always ask what changes they've seen in their time on the bench/in chambers; if they're new (or new-ish), what was the biggest adjustment to the position?

I know it's hard, but try to think of it has just making conversation (the hard part is that of course it has to be conversation that makes you look good!). The more you can think of these people as potential colleagues (even if, in the case of the judge, very senior ones), the easier it is to do the "tell us about yourself" kinds of interviews.

lolwat
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Re: Interview Anxiety

Postby lolwat » Sat May 25, 2013 1:16 am

Pretty much ... there used to be a thread (or more than one) that had examples of questions to ask somewhere in there.

All of the above questions are pretty good. They're all relevant and mostly non-obvious questions. There are certain things you likely should know, though; e.g., if the judge is handling MDLs you should know that (and probably ask to see how much work you'll be doing on those cases), if the judge is recused from hearing certain types of cases for whatever reason or another, if the judge is on the patent pilot program so you'll likely see/work on a lot more patent cases than you would with other judges, those types of things.

I think sometimes you'll probably get a judge that just, for like the first 10-20 minutes, tells you the answer to all of your prepared questions because they get them all the time. For example Judge Ripple's OSCAR posting has a FAQ that answers probably all of the above questions and more.

That's when you just start asking random shit that you think of and try to have a normal conversation. :p

most people like talking about themselves.


I know it's hard, but try to think of it has just making conversation (the hard part is that of course it has to be conversation that makes you look good!). The more you can think of these people as potential colleagues (even if, in the case of the judge, very senior ones), the easier it is to do the "tell us about yourself" kinds of interviews.


I think these the two quoted things above are really good advice :D

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Re: Interview Anxiety

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:34 pm

Bumping this thread.

How many interviewees do judges usually interview?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Interview Anxiety

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Bumping this thread.

How many interviewees do judges usually interview?

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Unfortunately, as to how many people each judge interviews, and turnaround time, it varies a lot. Some judges interview 2-3 per slot, some 4, some 5; some judges make an offer on the spot to the first person they like, some wait to interview a number of people then offer, and so on. Your best bet is to find someone who's clerked for this judge and ask them.

Anonymous User wrote:1. Every district court judge is different. When I was going through the interview process, I saw a wide range of styles. One judge interviewed about a dozen applicants for two spots. Another judge in the same courthouse interviewed about 20 applicants for two spots. A third judge (different city) interviewed 7-8 applicants for one spot. And the fourth judge (with whom I'm currently clerking) interviewed about 25 applicants for three spots.

lolwat wrote:Way too much variation between judges for anyone other than the judges' previous clerks to give you any solid info.




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