Preparing for a law university interview
Not every university conducts interviews for their undergraduate law courses. In fact, those that do, such as Cambridge and Oxford, are in the minority. But if you get asked to an interview, what should you do?
1. Relax by preparing
Panicking isn’t productive. Nerves are to be expected. Happily, you are already taking one step to combat those nerves: preparation. If you do your prep and find out as much as you can about the interview beforehand, it will help assuage some of those worries.
2. Knowing what to expect from a law interview
It really helps to know what the interview is going to involve. Reading our other articles about law interviews is a good start. Oxford and Cambridge both have comprehensive information and videos on what to expect at your law interview.
If you are asked to an interview, most universities will usually supply some information as to what it will involve. If they don’t, there is no harm in asking.
What doesn’t help is listening to friends’ stories of a friend of a friend who had an interview where the interviewer threw a brick out the window/didn’t talk once/slowly ate a crème egg in front of them naked. It’s not true.
3. Practise the obvious interview questions
You can’t predict every question, but there are some obvious ones they’ll likely ask: why study law? Why do you want to come to this university?
There’s no need to memorise an answer to these – simply have a good think about how you would respond. You can get your friends/teacher/parents to fire questions at you too if that helps.
4. Practise talking about law
It sounds staggeringly straightforward, but actually talking and answering questions about law and current affairs related to law with your friends, teachers or family can be really helpful.
Practise expressing your ideas and opinions (joining a debating society is a good idea) and it might be worth getting someone you don’t know very well, like a teacher, to give you a practice interview.
5. But don’t over-rehearse your interview answers
Practice makes perfect, right? Well, not really. If you’ve spent hours and hours memorising answers and over preparing, you will likely appear too rehearsed or stilted at interview. Most interviewers want to see how you think, what makes you tick and also get to know you a bit better.
They want you to respond and engage, not spout off pre-rehearsed speeches.
6. Read around your subject and find out about current legal issues
You will be expected to demonstrate an interest and aptitude for law. Don’t panic and bulk buy books on law, but do make sure you have a good understanding of the foundations of law.
It’s worth picking out a couple of areas of law that interest you (and are part of the course syllabus) and reading up on them. Most of the time, the interviewers will want to see how you apply your existing knowledge to unfamiliar situations.
It’s really important that you’re aware of topical issues and developments related to the industry or law in general – whether that’s the legal aid reform, QASA or the latest issue to rattle the legal profession.
Some good sources to start with are: The Lawyer, The Guardian, The Times, Legal Week, and Legal Futures. For more irreverent news, you can check out the AllAboutLaw news section and the Legal Cheek blog.
7. Research the university, law department and course
While most law courses are, by their very nature, pretty similar when it comes to content, there are some differences university to university. See if you can pick out what makes the course and law department different and why that appeals to you. The easiest way to do this is by scouring their website.
8. Read over your personal statement
Odds on they will refer to your personal statement at some point in the interview. Think about how you might expand on what you wrote in your personal statement or respond to questions on the information you provided.
9. Ask questions
There’s nothing worse than coming to the end of the interview and having a total mind blank when they ask, “so do you have any questions?” There’s a very simple way to get round this: write down a bunch of questions you want to ask before the interview.
These should be questions you can’t easily find out via the prospectus or online. If all your questions have already been covered in the interview, then say so! There’s no point asking questions just for the sake of it.
10. Be yourself
It’s a huge cliché, but it’s worth repeating again and again. It’s ok to relax in an interview – in fact, university interviews are intended to be a conversation between you and one or two lecturers. They aren’t designed to grill you or catch you out.