In some sense, every job interview is difficult, but there are some situations that can make the interview especially problematic for the prospective employee. Several of these situations are outlined below.
Interviewers who are not prepared for the interview:
If you are well prepared, then the unprepared interviewer should not present any difficulty for you. You will be able to express yourself lucidly and succinctly and to ask the right questions of the interviewer. This is a chance to guide the interview in the direction you want to take.
Interviewers who tend to do all the talking:
Try not to interrupt, but be ready to seize the moment at any slight pause. Make the most of any opportunity you are given to participate. Use any remaining time to communicate what you especially want the employer to know about you.
Interviewers who give no positive feedback:
This often occurs during screening interviews. Don't be discouraged if it happens - if you are well prepared, poised, and assertive, you should consider the interview a success.
Interviews that raise controversial topics:
This situation needs to be handled carefully. Try a diplomatic response, such as indicating that the topic is one on which well-intentioned people have agreed to disagree. If you do express your opinion, you may want to indicate that you understand the other viewpoint, or you may decide that it isn't worth it to soften your response. Regardless of what tack you take in responding to such issues, be prepared for the consequences of your decision.
Interviews that are intended to be stressful:
The stress interview is designed to gauge your reaction to the kind of pressure you will experience from judges, opposing attorneys, and clients. Answer the questions in a thoughtful manner and consider both sides of an issue. Maintain your composure. If you do not know the correct answer to a hypothetical legal question, explain how you would go about analyzing and solving the problem.
Interviews that raise discriminatory or other inappropriate questions:
Be prepared to handle this situation before it happens. Consider whether you want to answer a question that should not have been asked or whether you will gracefully point out to the interviewer the inappropriateness of the question. Remember the value of humor. While there is nothing funny about discrimination, a light response often alerts the interviewer that the question is not acceptable and may get you away from the subject. Click here to view WCL's Non-Discrimination Policy & Complaint Procedures or here to download an Interview Complaint Form.
Have trouble finding or viewing a page on this site? Contact our Resources Coordinator, Kendall Brown, firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of Career & Professional Development • American University Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 122 Washington, DC 20016 • 202-274-4090 F: 202-274-4096