Monday, October 15, 2012

The Most Consistent Mistake Candidates Make at the AALS Hiring Conference

I've served on Kentucky's hiring committee for the last five years.  Each hiring season, including this one, I've been dazzled by the candidates' accomplishments, scholarship, and grace under fire.  There's only place where the conference really fails; It's difficult to get an accurate read on how enthusiastic any one candidate is for our institution.  Assuming that a school cannot invite all the qualified applicants for callbacks, we'd prefer to invite those candidates who are both brillant and genuinely excited about our law school.  

Candidates have the power to diminish this information gap. They seem reluctant, however, to close the interview with a sincere expression of interest. Every interview is a two-way street.  Although the meat-market is organized for the benefit of the law schools, the interviews are also an opportunity for the applicants to evaluate the schools.  Just as the school examines the candidate, the candidate should also be judging, assessing, and appraising the school. What's the vibe in the room? Have they done their due diligence on my scholarship? What seems important to them?

If at the end of the interview you really want the job, then say so.   Before you leave, make it clear: "I'm really, genuinely, interested in your school (for X, Y, and Z reason) and would welcome the opportunity to do a callback."  It seems simple enough to say, but the hiring chairs I've talked to  report that applicants generally leave the room without giving any indication of their enthusiasm for our institutions. Closing an interview with a sincere expression of your desire for the position can only help your chances.

Steve Clowney

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