Interview Stories, Job Searches, Student Loans

Gradenfreude: My Interview Horror Story (Or, How I Underwhelmed A Hiring Partner With My Law Degree)

Ed. note: Gradenfreude is a new series chronicling a recent law school graduate’s life after attending an unranked school. Feel free to email the author at TristanTaylorThomas@gmail.com, and he’ll respond ASAP. After all, it’s not like he has anything better to do.

Hello my loyal readers — oh, and you commenters, too. A lot has happened since we last met. I had a job interview last week. How did it go, you ask? The words embarrassing and atrocious come to mind. Think about getting mugged on the way to your car, getting a flat tire in the rain, and then having your credit card declined at McDonald’s. Yeah, that would have been a much better day than I had.

Looking back at the day as a whole, I really should have known that it was going to be a bad time. First, my power went out in the middle of the night, but luckily for me, I was so excited and nervous that I woke up every couple of hours and noticed early on that I needed to turn on my cell phone alarm to make sure that I woke up. But then, of course, I couldn’t go back to sleep because my anxiety level was at an all-time high.

While I lay in bed and waited for my alarm to go off, I practiced going over interview questions in my head. My alarm finally went off, and I felt like I did before most of my law school exams: “Oh sh*t, I am not nearly prepared for this. Why the hell did I do this again?”

I got ready and left my house, but then nearly took a header going down the front steps. While driving, it felt like I hit every single light, and everyone else on the road was going five miles per hour under the speed limit. Midway there, I started freaking out because I thought I was going to be late; all I could see in front of me was row after row of tail lights. Luckily, I drive like an a-hole, so I was able to make short work of the traffic, and pulled into the parking lot 15 minutes early. I took a deep breath, figured that I had nothing else left to lose, and went inside.

A very friendly, cute receptionist greeted me as I walked in, and I thought to myself, “Wow, I wouldn’t mind working with her every day.” We made small talk, and I learned that she was actually a recent law school graduate. Then she said something that gave me a really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach — the school that she graduated from was ranked much higher than mine was, and she laughed when I asked her if she expected to become an attorney at the firm. Wonderful.

After a few minutes, I was called into the back of the office to meet the hiring partner. Since I had done my research on the firm, I already knew that he had gone to a T-14 school, but I just tried to put it out of my mind. When I walked into his office, we made a bit of small talk. We discussed sports, and shared our current heartbreak based on the teams’ lackluster performances. We were laughing and having a good time. It couldn’t have started any better.

Then he got down to business. One of his first questions was the one that I was dreading: “So, where did you go to law school?” After I explained it to him, I could see the interest in his eyes begin to fade. “Oh,” he responded. Seriously? Apparently my unranked law school was worthy of only a disappointed “oh.”

As the interview continued, I swear I could see the hiring partner drawing a picture rather than actually taking notes. When we were winding up, he asked me what I had been doing since I graduated from school, since my résumé didn’t have anything for that time period. Before I even answered, the look on his face appeared to say, “Whatever it is, I wouldn’t quit my day job.”

I wish I could, Mr. Hiring Partner. I really wish I could.


When not writing about life after law school for Above the Law, Tristan Taylor Thomas (not his real name) works at a retail job stocking shelves — which he admits is slightly better than being a shoeshiner. You can reach him by email at TristanTaylorThomas@gmail.com.

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