The "meat market" is the annual hiring convention sponsored by the Association of American Law Schools; this year, it is the weekend after the U.S. election (which means most interview teams will either be very depressed or very relieved). One candidate on the teaching market (not a UT graduate) e-mails this morning with a good suggestion:
"Although I know we are all now preoccupied with the upcoming election, I was hoping that you might offer a post addressing what the interviewing committees typically look for in the 20 minute AALS 'meat market' interviews....Perhaps you could offer your insights (I've already read your helpful guide for Texas students), and then leave a comments section open for other law professors to participate?"
Here's what I wrote in the aforementioned on-line guide concerning the "meat market" interviews themselves:
"At the law-school hiring convention in November, try to attend the session (usually scheduled at the beginning of the conference) on interviewing: it may have useful advice. The typical interview proceeds as follows: (1) a couple of minutes of chit-chat when you enter (e.g. 'Did you have Doug Laycock?' 'So, how was it working for Vinson & Elkins in Houston?'); (2) a question either about (a) something you have written (e.g., a student note) or (b) a more open-ended question about your scholarly interests, plans, or research; depending on how effectively you respond, the ensuing discussion can last for the next 10-15 minutes; (3) perhaps some questions about what you would like to teach/what you are able to teach; and (4) 'Do you have any questions for us?' Some good questions to ask are: Is there a writing requirement for students at your school? Are there opportunities for faculty to work with students on independent studies? What sort of research support is available to faculty? Is there summer research support? Are there summer teaching opportunities? How often do you have colloquia with faculty from other schools? What are your school's goals over the next five years? What is the length of the tenure-track, and what are the expectations?
"For the better schools, question (2) is the make-or-break moment in the interview. If you can talk intelligently and clearly for 10-15 minutes about a research project or a scholarly interest, you will quickly become a standout candidate. (Usually, candidates present an outline or 'precis' of a project or thesis that they plan to develop in a job talk, if they are invited back to the school for further interviews. Be prepared to defend your 'precis' in some depth.) Far too many job candidates arrive at interviews having never thought seriously about scholarly issues related to law, and thus are completely unable to speak about any when asked. This is your moment to shine: you show the interviewers that you're serious about scholarship and a scholarly career (that you're not just tired of long hours at your law firm, and that you're not just looking for a 'cushy' academic post to retire into); you impress them with your clarity of thought and expression; you demonstrate your potential as a teacher by your effective communication of ideas and arguments. Ideally, you should rehearse this part of your job interview with faculty advisors prior to the hiring convention (though don't over-rehearse, or you're likely to sound wooden)."
Comments are open; no anonymous posts, please.