Unexpected or Strange Interview Questions

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Unexpected or Strange Interview Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 29, 2016 6:27 pm

Currently prepping for a district court interview next week and was wondering about questions that would catch me off guard or surprise me.

Anyone have any stories about judges asking questions that threw you off or were just plain weird?

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Re: Unexpected or Strange Interview Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 29, 2016 7:24 pm

This will almost never happen. They're mostly just looking to have a conversation. Most uncomfortable question I got (from a circuit judge) was "why aren't you on law review?" Still got the job after bullshitting an answer.

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Re: Unexpected or Strange Interview Questions

Postby lavarman84 » Tue Nov 29, 2016 7:33 pm

Nah. My interviews were pretty straight-forward. The district judges I interviewed with mainly were looking for personality fit (with one exception).

andythefir

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Re: Unexpected or Strange Interview Questions

Postby andythefir » Tue Nov 29, 2016 7:38 pm

I got "what's your favorite Kegan dissent" maybe a year after she had been on the bench (as it happened, I had just read an obscure native law case with a dissent of hers), although it was a joke. "What would you do if you disagreed with the judge" came up in probably ⅔ of the interviews I did.

At the end of the day, hundreds if not thousands of people can do the job of a federal district clerk. If you got the interview, everyone knows you're smart enough to handle the job, and the judge is looking for someone that will comport themselves appropriately in and around court and the s/he won't want to strangle after spending lots of time in close quarters.

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mjb447

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Re: Unexpected or Strange Interview Questions

Postby mjb447 » Tue Nov 29, 2016 8:03 pm

If a question is really weird, it probably throws almost everybody off and your answer probably isn't competing against lots of really great ones, so I wouldn't worry that much about individual questions. (If it helps, some judges asked about high school and my upbringing, which I wasn't really expecting to get into. I don't think most judges ask about it, but I also don't think of it as a particularly "weird" line of inquiry.) I found myself getting thrown more when I prepared with a different interviewing style in mind, e.g., judge was ready for a more casual "fit" conversation and I was prepared for something closer to a normal legal interview or vice versa.

Otherwise, it's the usual advice. Know your resume really well - go line by line a few times just so you're ready to say something about everything you've listed (ideally how it prepared you to be a great clerk if you can get there). Polish your answers to normal questions that you're very likely to be asked like "why do you want to be a law clerk" or "what would you do if you disagreed with the judge" (h/t andythefir) - I think mediocre answers to easy questions are more likely to hurt you than mediocre (even bad) answers to hard or weird questions. Read a few decisions by the judge to inform yourself about his caseload and writing style. Keep up with legal and non-legal news. Etc.

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Re: Unexpected or Strange Interview Questions

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Dec 02, 2016 8:31 pm

I have interviewed for a judicial internship/clerkship with about 15 judges (one of them was all 8 of a state COA division). I've done two clerkships and have been on the hiring side of five clerks, with 5-10 interviews for each position.

Like others have said, the most important thing (in fact, the only thing for my current judge, really) is figuring out if the interviewee will be a good fit. So I've never been asked (or seen asked) a weird or unexpected interview question. Clerkship interviews are always the same questions (e.g., why here? Why this court? Why do you want to clerk? How would you handle a disagreement with the judge? What do you do in your spare time? and so on). One of the judges I clerked for never asked any prescripted questions. It was always a conversation, and was never substantive beyond asking what kind of work the candidates had done.

I think the only odd clerkship hiring question I've heard of is a friend had to ask candidates if they'd be okay with their desk being in a small closet. It was a weird courthouse and one clerk for this judge inevitably had to sit in a former closet. It bothered some people, so they wanted to see how candidates would react.

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