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, 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

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