Screening Interviews

Once you are granted a screening interview, the process of landing a job remains the same whether you went through AALS Faculty Appointment Services or contacted the school directly. Screening interviews on campus or via video conference will be conducted in much the same way. The main purpose is to determine whether you and the law school are a good fit for each other. 

In this simulation of a typical 20-30 minute screening interview, the participants address some of the most common interview questions and offer tips on the best ways to answer tough questions from law faculty hiring teams.
In this simulation, the participants demonstrate more difficult questions and topics that may arise in a law faculty screening interview.

Sample Interview Questions

Q: Why do you want to be a law professor?

A: Your answer should include references to writing (if the position is tenure-track), teaching, and programmatic design.

Q: Are you interested in teaching courses other than legal research and writing, either skills courses or substantive courses?

A: The ability to teach courses other than legal research and writing will vary depending on the school. If permitted, you should be prepared with a short list of courses you would be interested in teaching, but understand that if you show more enthusiasm for the other courses, the team may doubt your commitment to legal writing.

Q: Please briefly tell us about your job talk paper or topic, the lesson you would teach, or your teaching philosophy.

A: Though you will not be required to give any of these presentations until your callback interview, you will likely be asked about one of them during your screening interview. If the school has unitary or programmatic tenure, you will likely need to give a traditional job talk. If the school uses a different model, then the requirement of scholarly production will vary, and you may be asked to give a practical teaching demonstration or explanation of your teaching philosophy. 

Ask each school which type of presentation you will be required to make during a potential callback interview. For the screening interview, prepare a short, concise statement (i.e., around 2-3 minutes long) about your presentation that you have rehearsed. 

Q: Please tell us about current or future research projects listed in your research plan. 

A: If you are interviewing for a position in which you will be required to produce scholarship, you should be ready with a short, concise statement that you have rehearsed. Be prepared for substantive questions about any of your published papers. 

Q: What interests you in our law school?

A: Be sure to have reviewed the law school’s website, including its mission statement, information about the legal writing program (number of required semesters, number of credits, course descriptions), and legal writing faculty. If you have a particular interest in this school, be sure to convey it. Note: you may want to avoid saying “you are my top choice!”

You should be prepared for questions about your interest in and knowledge of the town or city in which the school is located. You should be prepared to address any questions about relocation, particularly if you are would be moving from urban to rural, changing regions, or changing climates. 

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 its fit with you and what you are seeking in an employer. You always want to have questions ready to ask each hiring committee. This is an opportunity not just to ask questions but to make comments revealing your depth of understanding about their school. 

There is certain information that any LRW faculty member should to know prior to accepting an offer, and some of it may be politically sensitive. You may want to wait until your callback to probe more deeply, particularly about status issues. Use your discretion and consult with your faculty mentor about the best way to manage some of these questions:

  1. What is the average size of the legal writing classes?
  2. What is the nature of the legal writing team (e.g. is it led by a director; are assignments coordinated, or is each faculty member responsible for designing their own projects)?
  3. Do legal writing faculty teach both writing and research or do they collaborate with library faculty to teach the research component?
  4. Is the course taught in one semester or over the course of a year?
  5. Do legal writing faculty have teaching assistants?
  6. What is the process following the screening interview and when can you anticipate hearing back from the school?
  7. How would the committee members describe the culture of their school, and the integration of LRW faculty?

Do legal writing faculty have voting rights and do they participate on law school committees?

This webinar is designed as a primer on initial interviews with law school hiring teams, whether conducted in person or virtually. We assembled a group of faculty, both subject-matter and clinical, ready to share their experiences and advice about these screening interviews.

Tips for a Successful Interview

  1. Be sure to review the law school website and the faculty profiles of your interviewers. Familiarize yourself with the scholarship of your interviewers, particularly in your field of scholarly interest.
  2. Prepare a short, concise statement (2-3 minutes) of your scholarly agenda and the topic of your job talk paper.
  3. Moot as much as you can: the interview, the job talk, the elevator pitch.
  4. Maintain professionalism throughout the conference, including those times when you are not in an actual interview.
  5. Send thank you emails to the committee chairs of each school with whom you interview.
Professor Deborah Epstein offers advice regarding time management during a screening interview.