Illustrative Interview Story

My partner, Karen Buttenbaum, used to be the Director of Admissions at Harvard. In fact, years ago it was called "KB1" for an interview and "KB2" for an admit. She did a ton of interviews and she would often ask the very first question "so how's it going?" which would totally stump so many HLS law applicants who were geared up for some "why law" diatribe. Karen did this intentionally to see how calm people were when they got something totally unexpected. Law applicants are often over worried that admissions officers are scary people with only big, serious questions and only think on those scenarios.

Anyway, I have a close friend who interviews for her Alma Mater undergraduate admissions. So I told her this and she decided she would ask that question. That question that used to totally stump HL:S applicants. She just did and texted me and said the kid responded without missing a beat "it's going well, how's it going with you?"

There's a biological argument to be made that even though you has less experience and sophistication, your lack of fully developed frontal lobes at that age gives you an invincible feeling (I certainly had it) and that can be helpful on questions that often throw off professionals who are over-thinkers. The single biggest law school interview mistake I have seen in 20 years of doing this is that applicants over-prepare for specific questions. There are an almost infinite array of questions that can be asked, it makes little sense to script out answers – which then just come across as scripted anyway. Interview like you high school self and all is well.


P.S. that's Karen (from middle), Jay Shively (our newest hire) and Mike (or perhaps me) in our early admissions days. We are thrilled to have Jay join us, and can see his bio here!