Screening Interviews

Once you get a screening interview, the process of landing a job remains the same whether you went through AALS Faculty Recruitment Services or contacted the school directly. Screening interviews on campus or via video conference will be conducted in much the same way.

On average, hiring committees send 5 members to interview candidates at the AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference. Sometimes law school deans will also attend. Individual interviews are usually scheduled every 30 minutes; thus, with time for travel between interviews, the actual interview time is usually about 20 to 25 minutes. The main purpose is an effort 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 and teaching.

Q: Please identify the three or four courses that would constitute your ideal teaching package.

A: Be prepared to explain how this package fits in with your research plan and practical experience.

Q: Is there a professor that you had that you would use a model for your teaching? What would be your style of teaching?

A: To answer this question, discuss with your faculty mentor different styles of teaching.

Q: Please briefly tell us about your job talk paper or topic.

A: Have a short, concise statement (around 2-3 minutes) that you have rehearsed. Twenty minutes is not much time, and this is one thing you want to be sure to share with the committee. Be prepared for any follow-up questions.

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

A: Have 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, and identified one or two distinctive features. 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!”

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

A: You always want to have questions ready to ask each hiring committee. Indeed, it may be helpful to have a cheat sheet for each school with questions about specific programs or features unique to this school.

  • 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?
  • Any questions that reveal your knowledge or curiosity about their particular school.
  • What do you think makes your school unique or special?
  • Where do you see the school going over the next several years?

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

This webinar is designed as a primer on initial interviews with law school hiring teams, whether conducted in person, virtually, or at the AALS faculty recruitment conference. 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. Pay careful attention to your time management at FRC.
    • Arrive early enough to familiarize yourself with the layout of the hotel well before your interviews start.
    • If you have multiple interviews, try to avoid scheduling them back-to-back. The hotel is sprawling; you need to give yourself sufficient time to get from one part of the hotel to another. Ideally, leave yourself at least 20 – 30 minutes between interviews.
    • If you do have back-to-back interviews, you should notify the interviewing committee when you arrive that you have another interview immediately following and that you may have to leave 5 minutes early to get there. If the first interview is running long, you should feel free to let the committee know that you have to end the interview to avoid being late to the next one. Don’t worry about offending any law schools. Institutions understand that candidates are doing back-to-back-interviews.
    • Wear professional, but comfortable, shoes!
  3. Prepare a short, concise statement (2-3 minutes) of your scholarly agenda and the topic of your job talk paper.
  4. Moot as much as you can: the interview, the job talk, the elevator pitch.
  5. Maintain professionalism throughout the conference, including those times when you are not in an actual interview.
  6. Send thank you emails to the committee chairs of each school with whom you interview.
Professor Deborah Epstein offers advice regarding time management during the interview.

Attending FRC Events

AALS offers a variety of events during FRC, which provide an opportunity to network with future colleagues and recruiting teams. While these are social events, it is important to maintain your professionalism throughout the conference.

Events include:

  • A workshop for candidates
  • Receptions for candidates
  • Receptions sponsored by various AALS sections including the Section on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Legal Writing, plus a Reception for Religiously Affiliated Law Schools
  • Question and Answer sessions and hospitality suites sponsored by the Sections on Minority Groups and Women in Legal Education

These suites can be good places to go for encouragement and advice. They also can be a good place for feedback in real time on questions you are uncertain about or to get advice before another interview. You may also make further contacts who can help you in future searches.

Attending FRC Without Any Scheduled Interviews

Advice on whether to attend FRC if you do not have any interviews scheduled in advance varies widely. It is rare that a law school will have open space to interview unscheduled candidates. Thus, it is an expensive gamble for a candidate to incur the travel and hotel expense of attending the conference without any scheduled interviews.

There have been a few candidates, though exceedingly rare, who came to the conference despite not having an interview and obtained a law teaching job.

If you submitted your information to the FAR and did not receive any invitations for an interview, one suggestion is to have a law faculty mentor review your materials before incurring the expense of attending the conference. The mentor may provide some insight into the process and help advise as to whether to attend or wait to apply next year.