UChicago Law Interview - What to Expect

Paul CaintPaul Caint Alum Member
edited March 2018 in Law School Admissions 3521 karma

Hey everyone!

I was recently admitted to UChicago and I've gotten a handful of questions about the UChicago interview, so I thought I'd write up an in-depth post about it so that those of you interested in Chicago now and interested 7Sagers in the future can know what to expect :smile:.

For the sake of transparency, here are my numbers and how my cycle has gone: lawschoolnumbers.com/ApplicantFor2018

To add some color, I transferred universities from a T50 to a T20 after my first year of college. After transferring I received a 4.0 in all semesters. My letters of rec came from two professors - one I took for 3 semesters and the other just for 1 - whose classes I was #1 in consistently and whose office hours I attended religiously. I also took ~9 months off of school to work on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign but am still graduating on time.

Time for the interview

In broad strokes, here are general points you should know:

1. It is structured.
In stark contrast with the Georgetown Alumni Interview (see: https://7sage.com/discussion/#/discussion/14244/i-just-interviewed-with-georgetown-heres-what-to-expect), the UChicago interview is structured. As in, the interviewer has a set of pre-determined questions they are trying to get through and they are taking notes on what you say. In this regard, this interview seems to matter a good amount. While the Georgetown Alumni Interview felt like a "gatekeeping" interview - where you were basically already admitted but they want to make sure you're not a weirdo - the UChicago interview felt more like your answers could not only preclude you from admission, but also EARN you admission. In other words, this interview is important and you should prepare for it.

2. But that doesn't mean be a robot.
A structured interview doesn't mean your answers have to be rigid. Demonstrate your intelligence and capability but also demonstrate your interpersonal skills. While the questions are structured, it is still fair-game to ask questions mid-interview. For example, it turns out my interviewer took time off of school to work on Obama's campaign, so we had something in common. I asked her a bit about her experience there and it was a great way to bond with her as an interviewer. Someone once told me people rarely remember what you said, but they always remember how you made them feel. It makes people feel good to talk about themselves, so let them. However, in the context of THIS PARTICULAR interview, because of it's more rigid structure and clear "we have to answer these questions" motive, don't ask too many questions as to seem scatter-brained or to be deliberately digressing. If an opportunity for a cool tangent comes up (like shared work experience, place of birth, etc.), take it! But DON'T MAKE one happen.

3. It is a short interview.
They're only 20 (max 25) minutes. When you first see your interviewer on Skype, he/she won't waste any time - they will jump STRAIGHT into the questions, so be prepared. There isn't much small talk beforehand to warm up, so make sure you're already warm and personable before you get the Skype call. (Also if it wasn't clear, UChicago ONLY conducts interviews via Skype - they do NOT offer in person interviews).

Here's how you should prepare

1. Practice these questions:
Thankfully many past UChicago interviewees have posted the questions they've been asked on various forums. Here are the potential questions you may be asked - practice answers for all of them:

Why law?

Why law now?

Why Chicago?

What am I doing between now and law school (I was a December graduate from UG)?

Resume related questions (questions about specific items or bullet-points on your rezzy).

Have you ever had a time when you were out of your element or comfort zone?

What is your greatest accomplishment?

If you could go back in time and redo one thing in your life, what would it be?

Discuss a memorable class or moment in a class.

Why did you choose your undergrad?

What is your preferred work style?

What do you do in your free time?

How would your professors describe you?

How would your peers describe you?

How would your coworkers describe you?

Do you have any questions for me?

"Who most influenced your decision to go to law school?"

Tell me about a challenge you faced?

Tell me about your current job.

Any points you want me to especially emphasize with the admissions committee?

"What is on your bucket list?"

If you could have a conversation with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

2. When practicing your answers, make sure they are ~3-4 minutes.
Again, the interview is short. The interviewer will likely ask you 4-5 questions. As such, allocate your time wisely and be succinct in your answers. Don't be afraid to tell a narrative when answering them, but don't be too verbose either. Also, oftentimes after I would give an answer the interviewer would comment on it. For example, I said I wanted to go into administrative law and the interviewer talked about how fascinating it was for maybe 30-40 seconds after I finished my answer. Be aware that this will also cut into your time.

3. You will 100% be asked why UChicago and Why Law/Why Law Now and What Kind of Law
Okay, maybe not 100%, but as I perused all of the forums people were almost ALWAYS asked these questions. As such, prioritize constructing good answers for these. Remember UChicago has a reputation for being very academic, so I recommend focusing on something academic in your answer (though do whatever you think is best!).

4. Know your resume AND BEYOND
UChicago is not like other schools in their interview process. They want to know that you have critically reflected on key aspects of your life. For all interviews, you should know your resume. But while other schools (like Georgetown) would just ask "can you tell me about what you did on X/Y/Z job?", UChicago will ask "What did you learn about yourself from this job?" This is a much different question and requires introspection and navel-contemplation. I was asked this exact question pertaining to my campaign job - just be ready for it!

5. As always, bring questions.
Like in most interviews, the interviewer will allot a few minutes after the interview to answer your questions. Make sure you have some!

I hope this is helpful to everyone! I wanted to be 100% transparent in this since I know admissions and interviews are often such a nebulous, daunting process. If anyone has any further questions about the interview just comment down below or PM me and I'll respond!

P.S. - Your Skype ID is the thing that pops up in the top left corner of your Skype app when you open it on your computer. So if you made your Skype account with an e-mail, it will be that e-mail. If you made it through Facebook, it'll be something weird like facebook.paul.caint. This ID is what you send UChicago when scheduling your interview.


  • goingfor99thgoingfor99th Free Trial Member
    edited March 2018 3072 karma

    What a great guide! You are an invaluable resource, Paul. :]

  • calcal101calcal101 Alum Member
    edited March 2018 582 karma

    I recently interviewed and was admitted, as well, and you've definitely done a great job outlining the process. I'd add (or reiterate) that the interview felt quite transactional compared to other law school interviews and job interviews that I've done…they definitely had a set of questions that they wanted to get through. For me, there was VERY little response to my answers…once I delivered my answer, we moved directly into the next question. I was nervous that I hadn't built strong rapport with my interviewer, but in the end, it was clearly fine. TLDR: if things feel iffy and a little "off" during the interview, don't worry--Chicago's interview process is just a little less conversational, so prepare using the questions provided in the OP, gear your responses to Chicago's vibe (intellectual, emphasis on ideological debate, less clinical/practical), and good luck!

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    1264 karma

    This is great stuff. Would definitely use it (especially the focus on the why-questions which I think I could flesh out more) if I had the opportunity to interview. Glad you did ur thing with it though, and congrats again on admission!

  • Paul CaintPaul Caint Alum Member
    3521 karma

    @calcal101 Yeah definitely. I will say I was the first interview on the first day of interviews for the most recent round, so maybe the interviewers were a little more conversational at the beginning.

    That being said, yeah I think Chicago attempts to really standardize their interview process - hence the "coldness" of the interview (don't want to seem partial to anyone!)

  • nessa.k13.0nessa.k13.0 Inactive ⭐
    4141 karma

    This is awesome @"Paul Caint" ! Congrats on getting in at Chicago!

  • westcoastbestcoastwestcoastbestcoast Alum Member
    3788 karma

    Great job on chicago and you have a great memory to make this write up!

  • Mike_RossMike_Ross Monthly Member Sage
    2989 karma

    Thank you so much for sharing! This is so helpful!

  • BigshootsBigshoots Alum Member
    84 karma


  • juanmapmjuanmapm Alum Member
    379 karma

    Thanks @"Paul Caint" !

  • calicolombiacalicolombia Alum Member
    38 karma

    Thank you, @Paul Caint!

  • AudaciousRedAudaciousRed Alum Member
    2689 karma

    Discuss a memorable class or moment in a class.>

    Oooh, Oooh! Can it be the time I asked permission to speak frankly after my history teacher asked everyone how they felt about Columbus? :lol:

    On a somewhat serious note, though... Do any of these people have a sense of humor, or should it be approached more like going through the line at the TSA? Thoughts?


  • AudaciousRedAudaciousRed Alum Member
    2689 karma

    Also, you are awesome for making this post and sharing your experience with us!

  • Paul CaintPaul Caint Alum Member
    3521 karma

    @xadrianas6x Hey! So I think it depends. I had a very young interviewer who was very engaged and nodding and smiling as I gave my answers, so I threw the occasional joke in there. Others like @calcal101 may have had more rigid interviews that wouldn't have been as receptive to jokes. I would say it would be fine to tell jokes as part of the narrative in your answer, but don't make it the focal point of your answer lol.

  • calcal101calcal101 Alum Member
    edited April 2018 582 karma

    @xadrianas6x yeah, I didn't get the sense that my interviewer was up for jokes. They were polite and seemed nice but clearly wanted serious answers. I had other interviews that felt MUCH more casual, and there are other schools whose admissions office just seem more chill and casual in general (Michigan comes to mind…their emails, at least to admitted students, are very playful)

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