Preparing for the Interview

The more you prepare for each interview, the greater the likelihood that you will be offered a job. Being prepared will enable you to:

  • Exude self-confidence
  • Provide responsive answers
  • Ask intelligent questions
  • Engage in meaningful discussion

Having a sense of the organization and an agenda for learning more about it will enable you to relax and comfortably interact with the interviewer. Not only will you gain a clearer understanding of the interviewer's specific concerns, but you will be in a better position to address them.

Mock Interviews

A mock interview may prove extremely helpful in preparing you for the real thing. Set aside time for an OPIA advisor or friend to ask you some of the questions we've posted, in addition to any other questions that your prospective employer might ask. Going through this process ahead of time will take the edge off the actual interview. Make a list of things that you would like the interviewer to know about you by the end of the interview and practice working them in. The mock interview helps identify any areas in which you require further preparation. Make an appointment with an OPIA advisor for a mock interview.

Materials to Bring

Be sure to bring copies of your resume, a list of references, an official copy of your law school transcript and a writing sample.


Self-assessment involves becoming aware of and being able to articulate the following information about yourself:

  • Interests
  • Relevant experiences
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Skills
  • Values
  • Accomplishments
  • Short- and long-term career goals and plans to achieve them
  • Work style and work environment preferences
  • Geographic considerations

Jot down your thoughts for each of these topics. Do not worry if it seems that your response for any or all of these areas is not definitive. Self-assessment is an ongoing process that changes with time and experience. Eventually, the answers to these questions will become clearer to you and you will feel more comfortable discussing these areas with an employer.

Your resume serves as an important tool in the self-assessment process. You should review it prior to the interview and be prepared to explain any part of it. In our office, OPIA has some books that are designed in whole or in part to assist in the self-assessment process necessary for career exploration. Many of these resources are geared toward lawyers.

Finally, leave any misgivings that you may have, whether about this particular position or your own qualifications, at the door. Spend some time visualizing yourself working at the position for which you are applying. The interview is an opportunity to convince the employer that you are right for the job. After the interview, you can reflect on any new information you gained and whether the position suits your interests and needs.

Researching the Employer

Learn all you can about the individual organization or office with which you will be interviewing so that you have a working knowledge of its mission, areas of specialization, major accomplishments, current concerns and your potential role within the office. Also try to find out about your interviewer. In addition to the resources available through OPIA, fellow classmates, alumni/ae, professors, or clinical faculty who have prior experience or personal contact with the particular office or organization are good places to start your research. Carefully review the organization's website. You should also consider conducting a Lexis or Westlaw search to learn about the office's cases.

Compare how your skills, accomplishments, values and interests match the information you have gathered about the position and the organization. Think through and write down four or five essential points to communicate during the interview that illustrate convincingly why you are committed to the office's mission and why you will be an asset to the office. Do not, however, consult any written notes during the actual interview.

Last modified: August 07, 2014

© 2014 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.