Steps to Take
If a law school is still interested in you after the AALS recruitment conference interview, they will offer you a “fly-back” (full-dress) interview on campus to meet with their whole faculty. For the fly-back interview, you would normally:
- Arrive the night before and have dinner with four to five faculty members;
- Have a series of one-hour office interviews the next day, each typically with three to five faculty members present;
- Present a scholarly “job talk” to the faculty and respond to questions; and
- Meet one on one with the dean.
A few schools have two levels of screening at their campus: they invite all prospective candidates back first to meet only with the appointments committee (generally over lunch), and then recommend some number of those candidates to go on to a full-dress interview with the faculty.
Schools will pay all your expenses for the preliminary or full-dress interviews on their campus. Most full-dress interviews take place in the period between November and February, although some schools are moving more quickly—sometimes before the AALS conference—in order to get a jump on the competition. If the law school faculty likes you after the full-dress interview, the faculty might then vote to offer you a job. Sometimes schools will vote offers as early as two or three weeks after the interviews are completed. Others will wait until March to make any offers, after the faculty has seen all of the candidates. On occasion, the timing of offers can be awkward. Candidates may receive offers from a less-preferred school that (purportedly or actually) expire before they hear from more-preferred schools. There are no hard and fast rules to deal with such timing conflicts, but you should be aware that they may occur. We are happy to discuss your options should you find yourself in such a position.
Keep schools apprised of positive developments.
You should feel free to update your initial application later in the application process. For example, if you have an article accepted for publication or you finish a draft of an article, you might send the information or draft to the schools to which you have already written or that have indicated interest in you, with a cover letter saying that you wish to update your file. Or if you receive an award of some kind, it is a great excuse to bring yourself to the attention of the faculty appointments committee. Obviously, there is a delicate line between being an effective advocate for yourself and becoming a nuisance or being regarded as too self-promoting. Common sense should be your guide here.
Preparing for Full-Dress Interviews
Before you go to your full-dress interviews, you should obtain a list of the school faculty and their biographies. Most of the information can be obtained from their website. It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with recent faculty publications. This information can be gotten off of Lexis or Infotrac. While it will usually be impossible for you to research all of the faculty members, it is a good idea to look at some recent scholarship by the faculty who teach in your fields or whose work is closest to the subject of your faculty talk. We have witnessed candidates who have been rejected largely because their job talk ignored the scholarship of one of the law school’s faculty members.
- Get a copy of your interview schedule ahead of time. Usually you will be invited to have dinner with several faculty members the night before your day of full-dress interviews, and will meet with most of the rest of the faculty in small groups during those interviews (typically lasting one hour each). The schedule is often made at the last minute, but you should be able to get an approximately accurate copy by the time you arrive, if not before. Obtaining a copy of the schedule in advance will allow you to look up the faculty members before meeting them.
- Stress your commitment to scholarship. If you are interviewing at a school that cares about scholarship (and these days, most do), you want to convey the impression that you have many ideas. If your interlocutors do not give you a chance to bring up another article idea, find a way to give them more information about what really matters or is most interesting to you. Do not wait for smooth segues. No school is going to hire you just because you seem nice (although niceness does help, and its complete absence will kill you at most schools—they’ve got to live with you as a colleague for a long time). You also want to show them more generally that you are enthusiastic about the scholarly life. In one-on-one conversations, ask them about their scholarly projects and interests, and try to engage substantively with the work. (Everyone loves a colleague who seems genuinely interested in what they're doing.) Finally, when asked whether you have questions about the school, you should ask questions about the school’s support for faculty scholarship, scholarly strengths, etc. Having said all that, however, you should be aware that almost every school has a handful of faculty members who are not themselves invested in scholarship and may not be too keen on hiring new faculty members who are. At some schools, that contingent can be a sizable minority, or even a majority. Let your instincts be your guide here (preferably armed with information you've gleaned ahead of time about the faculty). If none of your overtures on the scholarly front is getting a response, you may need to try a different strategy.
- Show Enthusiasm for the School. To the extent you can do so credibly, it is always a good idea to show enthusiasm for the school and the city in which it is located. Schools hate to think they are your third or fourth choice, just as you would hate to think you are theirs.
- Keep Your Story Straight. Faculty appointments committees at different schools talk to each other constantly. You should assume that anything you say to someone on one faculty will get back to other schools. Therefore: (1) be consistent in your stories; and (2) do not run down one school to another (bad form in any event).
- Preparing for the Job Talk. It is very important that you practice your job talk. We can assist you in setting up practice job talks (“moot job talks”) with professors at Stanford Law School, either in person or by video conferencing.
You should plan to talk, at the most, for 20-30 minutes. Law professors do not want to hear an entry-level person talk for a long time. They want to hear your basic idea and then hear themselves talk—and see whether you can carry on an intelligent dialogue in response to their questions.
If you end up with multiple callbacks, we would recommend trying to schedule them so that you do not interview first at the school where you most want to teach. People rarely do their best in their first job talk, so it is a good idea if possible to have a few other schools under your belt first.
For many job talks, it is useful to distribute an outline for your talk, write on the board or use slides or PowerPoint during your talk, so that your listeners can follow your line of argument.
- Preparing for your decanal interview. After the job talk, you would normally end your day with a one on one interview with the dean.
- Do not raise the issue of money unless and until you have an offer.
- You can ask about research support (again showing that you are interested in writing), course loads, time off to write, etc.
- Emphasize how much you enjoyed meeting the faculty and how impressed you are.