LSAT Kung Fu Blog / Guest Post! The Harvard Law School Interview: Five Tips from a Recent Admit
Guest Post! The Harvard Law School Interview: Five Tips from a Recent Admit
Harvard Law School’s admissions interviews have recently taken a technological turn – and are now being held via Skype. Much of my advice for the Skype interview is the same as it would be for a phone interview: act normal. That’s the biggest tip I can give you for the HLS interview.
These are extremely brief interviews – rarely long than five or ten minutes – and there is only so much that an admissions officer can assess in that time. Thus, these interviews normally boil down to one question: are you normal? If you seem awkward, anti-social, or taciturn, you will do yourself a tremendous disservice. If you have received an interview, you are in the home stretch, and have a strong chance of gaining admission. This is not a stage that you want to have any tragic failures (i.e., making profane remarks during your interview), but no one is expecting you to “wow” them. So try not to worry too much. Your best bet is to enter the interview with a strategy of “stay calm, and don’t actively harm my chances.” You are less likely to harm your chances of admission if you are not intent on impressing the admissions officer on the other end of the line.
However, despite the similarity between the phone interview and the Skype interview, there are some important tips particular to Skype interviews that you should keep in mind. Here are five of those tips.
First, while they will not penalize you for technological difficulties, you definitely want to avoid such a scenario. The interview tips in the link above are directly from the Harvard Law School admissions office, and should give you ample guidance on this issue. For instance, make sure you have a wired connection instead of Wi-Fi if possible. Make sure you test out your video and sound connections in advance, etc.
Second, and more importantly, you will want to dress appropriately for the interview. That means professional (or at least business casual) attire. Don’t wear a tuxedo. Don’t wear a “Harvard Law School” t-shirt. A button-down, tie, and (maybe) a jacket is all you’ll need.
Third, don’t have any weird, overly personal, or distracting materials in the background of your picture. That includes wandering people or pets. Try to make sure that the interviewer’s picture is focused on your head and the upper part of your shoulders (almost like a passport picture). You don’t want to be half of a floating head at a weird angle, so practice beforehand in order to present the perfect picture of yourself. Dark, gloomy pictures make for a darker, gloomier impression of you.
Fourth, you should never rehearse a scripted interview beforehand. In fact, we recommend that if you write something out ahead of time (probably a smart idea), you write only a general sketch of what you want to discuss. If you script something word-for-word, you will either succeed in repeating it verbatim (and sound incredibly stiff), or you will forget words, trip up, and make yourself seem too anxious to function in a conversation (not good for a profession that requires public speaking and advocacy).
The only thing that you might want to sketch out is how you will begin the conversation if the interviewer asks the common introductory questions of “tell me about yourself” or “walk me through your resume.” Again, don’t script anything; just know what about yourself you want to convey to the interviewer. Also, be ready for the question, “is there anything you want to tell me that I might not glean from your application?” You don’t need a revolutionary answer here, but just saying “no” isn’t an ideal strategy either. Good grist for this question includes any recent activities or achievements you have had since sending in the application. You could also discuss a hobby or interest that might not have made its way onto the application. Whatever you choose to say, make sure that your answer is not any formulation of: “OMG Harvard is my number one choice, and it’s all I’ve wanted since I was a little child!” Begging is the activity of an applicant who doesn’t think they deserve admission.
Finally, remember, these interviews are very short, and often ended early because the interviewer is behind schedule. Do not take this personally! Numerous counselors from inGenius, including several who have conducted these interviews as an admissions officer, have recounted stories in which their interview was rushed, ended in the middle of an answer, or simply ended abruptly. They all got in. The likelihood of a disastrous interview is quite low.
If you would like help preparing for your interview, or just want to talk to a current HLS student or former Harvard Law School admissions officer, you can visit www.inGeniusprep.com or email the inGenius team at JD@inGeniusprep.com