Summer Mock Interview Program

Author: Lauren Love

We know our students go to law school to ultimately have a career in the law. Our alumni and the Career Development office help jumpstart student’s careers with the dynamic mock interview program.

More than 350 Notre Dame alumni in 69 cities throughout the country (and in Beijing!) are interviewing current Notre Dame Law School students this summer. Each year, the CDO coordinates a summer mock interview program pairing current students with Notre Dame alumni to conduct mock interviews to help prepare them for the fall recruiting season. All rising second-year students are required to participate in the program, and all rising third-year students are invited to participate as well. This is the fifth year of the program, and it is our biggest yet!

It paid off in spades for rising 3L Megan Davis, who participated in the mock interview program last summer. Davis chose to participate in four mock interviews, not the one required, because she thought that it would be valuable interview experience for her first on-campus early interview week and because she had never experienced a legal interview before. Davis, a native of Austin, Texas, wanted to return. But she had not lived in Austin since high school, so wanted to use the interview program to network within the community.

One of her interviewers was Richard Cardillo, ’06 J.D., partner in the corporate and securities section at Jackson Walker in Austin.

“One of my mock interviewers was a partner at Jackson Walker, and being able to meet with him and ask questions to prepare for my formal on-campus interview gave me an edge,” she said. She got the job. Davis spent the first half of this summer working as a summer associate at Jackson Walker doing litigation work. She is spending the second half of her summer working as a summer associate at Andrews Kurth in Houston, Texas.

Cardillo said that a great benefit of the program was being able to identify Davis early in the summer associate recruitment process. He said he chose to participate in the mock interview program because he saw it as an opportunity to be an active member of the Law School alumni community, from which he benefited greatly as a student.

Davis said her mock interviews felt authentic. At the conclusion of each mock interview, she and the alum went back through each interview question to provide constructive feedback, their perception of her based on her responses, and suggestions about how to approach different types of questions during the interview.

Cardillo said and that it was clear that Davis took the interview seriously and had taken the time to research his firm. The program also helped him, he said, to gain insight into his own interview style.

Going into each interview Davis said her biggest challenge was getting out the pre-interview jitters.

“I was more confident by the fourth mock interview, but every interview and interviewer is different and keeps you on your toes,” she said. “I did feel that confidence carry over in to the On-Campus Interview process.”

She also learned more about her communication style.

“When I am nervous I tend to speak both too quickly and too quietly,” she said. “The interviewers were able to address that issue and help me identify how I could adapt my style to my audience.”

Davis offered three suggestions for future mock interview participants:

  • Do as many mock interviews as possible. Not only do you get excellent networking experience, but you are afforded the opportunity to talk with and learn from interviewers who have different personalities, interview styles, and feedback.
  • Know your resume forward and backward and be prepared to discuss anything on the resume – even if it is obscure.
  • Practice speaking to another person confidently about your experiences.

Cardillo said participants should take the opportunity to ask questions and for feedback and advice from the interviewer.

“Presumably there are not the same repercussions as in a formal interview, and you can gain some great insights into what the employer is looking for and how to prepare for your future interviews,” he said.

He also highlighted the role that social media has begun to play in the recruitment process. “If you have a strong resume, strong interview, and great references, don’t allow your social media content to give the employer reason to question your judgment,” he said.

The summer mock interview program has been a tremendous benefit to NDLS students, and it would not be possible without the enthusiastic support of our alumni. Given the strength of the Notre Dame alumni network, Davis said she was not surprised that all of her interviewers were encouraging, helpful, and provided valuable feedback.”

“All of my interviewers seemed sincerely interested in contributing to my future success,” Davis said.