Getting Interviews but no Offers

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Getting Interviews but no Offers

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Nov 06, 2017 9:03 pm

Looking for some advice/looking to vent on the state of my clerkship interviewing.

I am currently a second year associate at V50 that has been applying to clerkships across the country -- mainly focusing on district courts, but also applying to a few COA judges (and magistrates in competitive districts). I graduated middle of my class at a T20 but have had the privilege of having a unique experience that has allowed me to differentiate myself from my peers and exceed my clerkship chances given my relative class rank/school. As of now, I have received 8 final round interviews spanning from SDNY magistrate, to various district courts, to a COA interview but haven't been able to land an offer. I'm discouraged and frustrated, especially when I see my friends and coworkers land clerkships on their first or second shot. I also don't believe I come off as a bad interviewer, I just think that my background doesn't compare to those I'm competing against. In other words, I'm not as safe of a hire as others. And that's fine, the reality of the uphill battle is not what discourages me, but it is rather the constant coming close-ness of these interviews that have left me pretty bummed out.

Has anyone faced anything similar? Or does anyone have any advice re interviews or applications?

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Re: Getting Interviews but no Offers

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:05 am

I had about 14 interviews over the course of 1 year and 3 months before I landed a district court clerkship. It was an incredibly frustrating experience at the time, so I completely sympathize.

One thing that came to my attention during the application process was that one of my reference letters had been lukewarm, so I swapped it out for a recommendation letter that I knew would be strong. I got hired shortly after making that switch. Also, if you know a judge is calling references, make sure you alert your references and give them an idea of what they should say. My judge told me that a conversation he had with one of my references really convinced him to hire me.

Finally, don’t take the process personally! It’s hard not to, but some of the judges who didn’t hire me told me that the process was a complete crapshoot, and they offered other candidates clerkships for entirely arbitrary reasons. Just keep applying and see what happens—8 rejections are still better than radio silence.

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Re: Getting Interviews but no Offers

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:16 am

Anonymous User wrote:I had about 14 interviews over the course of 1 year and 3 months before I landed a district court clerkship. It was an incredibly frustrating experience at the time, so I completely sympathize.

One thing that came to my attention during the application process was that one of my reference letters had been lukewarm, so I swapped it out for a recommendation letter that I knew would be strong. I got hired shortly after making that switch. Also, if you know a judge is calling references, make sure you alert your references and give them an idea of what they should say. My judge told me that a conversation he had with one of my references really convinced him to hire me.

Finally, don’t take the process personally! It’s hard not to, but some of the judges who didn’t hire me told me that the process was a complete crapshoot, and they offered other candidates clerkships for entirely arbitrary reasons. Just keep applying and see what happens—8 rejections are still better than radio silence.

How'd you find out about the lukewarm recommendation?

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Re: Getting Interviews but no Offers

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:18 am

I had about 14 interviews over the course of 1 year and 3 months before I landed a district court clerkship. It was an incredibly frustrating experience at the time, so I completely sympathize.

Just about the same here. Went on 12 interviews over the course of a year and had 2 interviews pending when I accepted my district court clerkship. 5 out of the 14 were CoA and generally earlier on in my process, which got my hopes up for finding something quickly. It ended up being frustrating and expensive.

I agree with what's been said so far. You can't let the success of your friends and coworkers get to you. Of course, that's a lot easier said than done considering the nature of this process.

Not sure if it hurts or helps, but I don't think I did anything differently in the interview that resulted in an offer. My views and interests, though, aligned much more closely with this judge than with other judges in prior interviews. I also had some ties to the area, which may have helped. That all makes sense given that judges are looking for people they're going to get along with for a year. If you're hammering your background or experience in your interviews, maybe try shifting the conversation to one of the judge's pet peeves or interests (but don't come across as a sycophant). Who knows though. It's possible you're not getting offers for arbitrary reasons, but my advice would be to examine what you're doing to make sure that's the case.

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Re: Getting Interviews but no Offers

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:27 pm

Not OP but I have a similar concern. I got my district court clerkship on my fifth interview attempt and have interviewed with two COA judges since, both of whom have dinged me. How can I know if it's an interviewing defect as opposed to mere arbitrariness/fit? I performed pretty strongly at OCI for what that's worth and never really thought I was a bad interviewer. Any encouragement/tips would be appreciated.

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Re: Getting Interviews but no Offers

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:37 pm

From my own experience as a clerk observing candidate interviews, I found that the candidates who made it clear they really wanted the position were often the least likely to get it. We had people come in with a very aggressive gameplan for selling themselves (e.g., telling noticeably rehearsed anecdotes designed to highlight their academic strengths or make them appear charming and well-rounded). Although some judges may like this approach, my intuition is that most don't. I suspect that most judges, like most other people, prefer to work with people who are calm and easy to be around. I don't mean to assume that OP or others are struggling in interviews for this reason, but I think often the best advice for clerkship applicants--especially those who are becoming increasingly anxious about their interview performance--is to try to calm down and treat future interviews more like a relaxed conversation, and accept that the rest is out of your hands.

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Re: Getting Interviews but no Offers

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:13 pm

COA clerk here who does interviews. You'd be surprised at how many candidates screen themselves out by being arrogant or self-important while simultaneously not knowing much about the chambers where they're interviewing. Obvious ego is probably the single fastest way to sink an otherwise successful interview.

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Re: Getting Interviews but no Offers

Postby rpupkin » Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:20 pm

Anonymous User wrote:From my own experience as a clerk observing candidate interviews, I found that the candidates who made it clear they really wanted the position were often the least likely to get it. We had people come in with a very aggressive gameplan for selling themselves (e.g., telling noticeably rehearsed anecdotes designed to highlight their academic strengths or make them appear charming and well-rounded). Although some judges may like this approach, my intuition is that most don't. I suspect that most judges, like most other people, prefer to work with people who are calm and easy to be around. I don't mean to assume that OP or others are struggling in interviews for this reason, but I think often the best advice for clerkship applicants--especially those who are becoming increasingly anxious about their interview performance--is to try to calm down and treat future interviews more like a relaxed conversation, and accept that the rest is out of your hands.

This is good interview advice for most legal jobs. In my view, one of the worst sins of law school CDOs is their advice to "sell yourself!" during interviews. Few enjoy talking to someone who treats every topic as an opportunity to "pivot" to an example of how awesome he or she is.




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