Screening Interviews

If a school reviews your application and decides to grant you a screening interview, the process toward landing a job becomes almost identical whether you went through AALS Faculty Recruitment Services or not. Screening interviews on campus or via video conference will be conducted in much the same way.

Schools generally will use a five-person hiring committee to the conduct interviews. Sometimes law school deans also will attend. The interviews may be very brief—as short as 30 minutes. The main purpose is to determine whether you and the law school are a good fit for each other.

If you are being screened for a tenure-track clinical position, refer to the tenure-track section in the main navigation menu for more sample questions related to scholarship expectations and job talks.

Sample Interview Questions

The list below is an expanded version of a list compiled by the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education and the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA).

General Questions

Q: Why do you want to be a clinical law teacher?

A: Your answer should include references to teaching, lawyering, contact with students and clients, and writing (if position is tenure-track).

Q:  What relevant legal practice experience have you had? 

Q.  What relevant teaching or supervision of law students have you had?

Q:  What are your thoughts about directing students versus allowing them to navigate to answers on their own?

Q:  From your experience as a new lawyer or seeing new graduates in your practice, what skills do you think law graduates most need to acquire and how might you teach those skills in your clinical course?

Q: Please briefly tell us about your job talk/interests and goals/teaching philosophy.

A: You will need to ask ahead of time which type of presentation you will be required to make. Regardless of whether the topic involves scholarship or teaching ideas, be ready with a concise statement about your presentation that you have rehearsed. Be prepared at most schools for any presentation on your part to take up less than half the total allotted time as law school faculty love to ask follow-up questions.

Q: What interests you in our law school [or clinical program]?

A: Be sure to have reviewed the law school’s website, including its mission statement, and identified one or two distinctive features. You need to convey interest in this school and be knowledgeable about its clinical program and how the position you are interviewing for fits into the program.

Q: What can we tell you about our law school? Do you have any questions for us?

A: Interpret this as a prompt to explore the specific law school and clinical program and its fit with you and what you are seeking in an employer. You always want to have questions ready to ask each hiring committee.

  • Is it possible to teach courses outside of the clinic?
    • If so, would I get release time or a reduced load in my clinic or externship?
    • Or additional compensation?
  • What is the process following the screening interview/what are next steps e.g. when can you anticipate hearing back from the school?
  • How would the committee members describe the culture of their school, and the integration of clinical faculty with the podium/classroom faculty?
  • What employment status does this job come with (e.g., unitary tenure track, clinical tenure track, long-term contract, short-term contract)?  This is a topic you will explore in greater depth should you be invited for an on-campus interview.  For now, you just want the basic information about status.

This is an opportunity not just to ask questions but to make comments revealing depth of understanding about their school.

If Applicable

Q:  Do you have any fundraising experience?

Q:  If you were a clinical fellow, what level of responsibility did you have over the supervision of students and cases during your fellowship?

Q: Are you interested in teaching courses unrelated to the clinic, either skills courses or substantive courses?

A: The ability to teach outside of the clinic will vary depending on the school. If permitted, you should be prepared with a short list of courses you would be interested in teaching.

Q: Did you take a clinic or externship in law school? If so, please describe what you worked on. Are there things you observed in your clinical professor that might be a model for your teaching?

For Director/Advanced Positions

If you are interviewing for a more advanced position or a clinic or externship director position, be prepared for more in-depth questions such as:

Q:  What thoughts do you have on how a law clinic [or externship] might best operate to both teach students and serve clients?

Q:  Do you have any thoughts on how to manage the tension between serving clients and developing the lawyering skills of students?

Q:  If you had unlimited resources and administrative support what kind of clinic would you most like to run and how would it work?

Tips for a successful interview

  • Be sure to review the law school website and the faculty profiles of your interviewers.
    • If this is a position that requires you to produce scholarship, familiarize yourself with the scholarship of your interviewers, particularly in your field of scholarly interest.
  • If you interview with a school that requires academic scholarship, prepare a short, concise statement (2-3 minutes) of your scholarly agenda and the topic of your job talk paper or teaching demonstration.
  • Moot as much as you can: the interview, the presentation, the elevator pitch.
  • Maintain professionalism throughout the conference or when at a school, including those times when you are not in an actual interview.
  • Send thank you emails to the committee chairs of each school with whom you interview.