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From mispronouncing the firm’s name to being told to ‘smile more’: Law students share interview ‘horror stories’

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So.Much.Cringe.

Law students are recounting their worst interview experiences with law firms in a thread on social news forum Reddit.

From interviewers arriving late, falling asleep, or not showing up at all, the thread, started by third year law student and Reddit user TheOwnerOfBlackacre, is nearing 150 comments of cringey tales from current and former law students.

The majority of the commenters appear to be based in the US and so their experiences are of the ‘on-campus interview’ (OCI) where firms visit law school campuses in the fall to interview students for positions starting the next summer.

“My interviewer berated me because I stated that I strive to be a meticulous person,” the original poster wrote. “Yet, the fact that I put periods at the ends of my bulleted statements under my job experience showed otherwise.”

Continuing, OP wrote: “The scolding was the interviewer’s second and last question. The interviewer’s explanation went on for about 20 minutes (no exaggeration). Finally, the interviewer dismissed me with, ‘at least you were consistent with your error’.

OP’s tale sparked further discussion, with one user saying, “what self respecting lawyer thinks (especially so strongly as to berate an interviewee) that a bullet list precludes periods? If it’s in sentence form, each bullet gets a period…”

In another berating, one law student “was scolded for five minutes for putting my full name on my resume when I go by my middle name. Apparently it was confusing, and I should only have put my first initial”.

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A third year law student shared how the lawyer conducting their interview showed up five minutes before it was due to end and used up all that time to tell them about their practice area. The interviewer then said, “too bad there’s no time for questions and it just ended”. Awkward.

Other major awks moments include one mature candidate being asked to explain a low grade he achieved ten years ago, an interviewee not receiving a callback because they decided to end the interview — “I still think about that to this day” — another mispronouncing the firm’s name and another having to accept a takeaway mid-call!

“Asked why I didn’t have any ‘hobbies’ on my resume,” wrote another candidate. “Kinda stumbled and offered one of my hobbies: ‘golf’. Interviewer: ‘ah, I hate golf’. Very awkward from there.” Another user listed ‘live music’ as one of their interests which piqued and then plateaued the interest of the interviewer when they found out it wasn’t their favourite band. “The interview was basically over in that moment.”

One user posted that the interviewing partner showed up late and was rude to them the entire time, eliciting this sassy response: “At the end of the interview he asks me if I have any questions. I say usually at this point I do, in this case I don’t.”

Some other eye-catching experiences include interviewers venting about their jobs, clock-watching and telling one interviewee that they should “smile more”. But one commenter reassured Reddit users, “sometimes horror stories are ways life directs you onto a better path”.

Do you have an interview horror story? Let us know in the comments below or by emailing tips@legalcheek.com.

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22 Comments

Been huffing glue

Wtf is dis sh*t ?

Alex, a proper article about recent NQ salary raises plz, thx.

Alan

There is no harm in showing a bit of skin at interview.

Al

Especially if it’s the skin of a rival for the training contract. It demonstrates that you’re ambitious and proactive. And good at tanning.

(It always helps to show you have outside hobbies and skills)

Paul

So true. Need to see what you’re buying.

Future Trainee

Before I got my TC, at one of the smaller firms I applied to (as a backup) the partner interviewed me on Zoom while he was on a treadmill at the gym. I’m never ever going to forget that.

Jah

You were obviously the back up to their back ups.

Future Trainee

They clearly preferred lats to laterals

Tom G

I very rarely come to LC now, because the comments are so sanitised. However, it’s good see the occasional funny/genuinely interesting comment can still slip through the net.

Anon

Had an interview with the training principal at Weil. I think he was trying to play bad cop to see how I handled confrontation but he just came across as a wasteman.

Lol

If you know, you know.

Anonymous

I once applied for an internship in the UK, mind me, being a German lawyer. I still remember the hiring partner calling me just to tell me “Hi, we don’t take German lawyers. Good luck!” and dropping the phone thereafter.

Anna

I tripped over when I went to return the partners hand shake. It ended with me awkwardly shaking his hand while falling over. I still got the training contract thankfully.

In an interview before that at another, much smaller firm, I had accidentally offended the partner interviewing me. She owned the firm, and I told her I was impressed at her bravery for setting up her own law firm in a busy city centre where a number of large law firms were based. I genuinely meant it as a compliment (and to some disagree, I was kiss arsing), but she took the comment as me implying that it was a stupid business decision, and I can see how one would interpret it that way. I didn’t get that job.

People do and say the dumbest things when they are nervous…

Anonymous

Partner interviewing me answered his phone his mid interview while I was answering a question he asked me, but asked me to “carry on” answering the question, while he took the call. Either he wasn’t listening to me, or he wasn’t listening to whoever he was talking to. I’m assuming it was the former, as he kept responding to the person on the phone. Eventually I stopped talking, and he gestured me to carry on, although I had already answered the question. It was bizarre.

Yeah that's right

Total goon, you’re better off avoiding such a shop.

Scouser of Counsel

Funny this.

During my pupillage I was told to smile LESS!

😁

Anonymous

Did you exchange chambers for a new one?

Northerner

I see what you did there!

Ann Nonny Mouse

OK that’s spooky. I did pupillage at a certain northern superset and was told by my pupil mistress that I smiled too much. I wonder if that was something everyone got told…

Northerner

Approx. 10 years ago I was involved in my firm’s assessment centre for training contracts and went to collect one of the candidates at reception. Upon introducing myself to her, she stood up, shook my hand and awkwardly exclaimed “Oh, it’s you, you look so much better in person than you do on your website”. She then realised what she’d said, cringed and apologised. I thought it was hilarious and took it as a compliment, I’ve never been the photogenic type!

Graham

Sounds like a fairly basic bit of intentional flattery to get you on-side, did they get the job?

Future Trainee @ Not Slaughter and May

I interviewed at Slaughters not too long ago. First question and the partner asked me about one of my GCSE results. I got strong GCSEs, with one outlier (Chemistry). I had since got top A-Level results and averaged a 1st at uni. Yet he really pressed me on one GCSE that I took half a decade ago. Maybe it’s just me but I found this pretty odd.

Huh?

But it’s hardly an irrelevant question? It’s basically crying out to be asked about. Why wouldn’t that be relevant to a job in which you’re required not to drop the ball at all?

If GCSEs are relevant at all (which they probably are given you only took them 5 years ago), then they are all relevant, not just the ones you did well in.

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