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I forgot I made this thread! But yes, interests did end up being super important - it came up in every interview at least once. 

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, Psychometronic said:

This question does seem unfair, lol. No one would expect this kind of angle.

Truly not unfair or unexpected. You're expected to prepare for interviews. 

When I was doing OCIs, my interests section included that I was a cinephile. Before my interviews I thought about what my favourite movies/actors/actresses were. I got the question I anticipated, several times. I included some sports in my interests and was prepared to talk about my involvement in them along with what I thought about my local sports teams. Guess what? I was asked what position I played, why I liked/excelled in that position, and what I thought about the Jays' and Raps' current teams. Pretty much every interest I put on on my resume throughout OCIs and later interviews led to a conversation with someone that I'd anticipated and was prepared to talk about. Those conversations sometimes went in unexpected directions which is fine. And those were fun conversations usually because I got to just talk about myself and my interests.

At a certain point, you should absolutely be expected to receive and understand a question about your hobby/passion and improvise an honest answer, unexpected or not. "Actually, I love baseball but I despise the Jays" is a fair answer to being asked about the Jays. "I didn't realize Toronto had a baseball team" is suspect. "You know, I don't have a favourite movie but I love science fiction and here are some recent examples of movies I've really enjoyed in that genre" is a fine answer. "I don't know" is suspicious.

To be clear, you shouldn't fabricate interests and prepare canned answers about them to appear knowledgable. But you really should be anticipating questions about your entire application package--you submitted it! And in the legal profession, failure to anticipate questions--especially as a litigator--yikes, that doesn't reflect well.

Take 10 minutes the day before your interview and think about what you put as an interest and what you'd say if asked about it. It isn't a gruelling task. Writing down your answers may help commit to memory.

Edited by FineCanadianFXs
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If you can't speak off the cuff about your interests, then maybe those aren't actually your interests.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Rashabon said:

If you can't speak off the cuff about your interests, then maybe those aren't actually your interests.

I don't think this is accurate or helpful.

People can and do freeze up, even when talking about things they love. And in an interview situation, not having a quick answer about something you're vested in can feel embarassing and that exacerbates the situation. That's understandable. But that's why you prepare a little.

One of the interests I list on my resume, I have done my entire life and, at times, professionally. I have profound knowledge of it and strong opinions about it. I could talk for days about it, but at the same time that depth of knowledge makes simple questions complicated. I have enough interview experience by now to know that I could answer a question like "what's your favourite X" with "well that's a complicated question and it depends on..." and just go off. Sometimes I may not want to do that, though. Sometimes I don't want to come off as a snob. Additionally, if I want to give the interviewers something to respond to (depending on who's interviewing me) it is better to give a simple answer even if it's inaccurate because it promotes a dialogue instead of a boring ass monologue. If I don't think about these things before the interview, then when the question arrives I may be unprepared to answer. Then I'm likely to feel embarassed. But that is also really easy to avoid.

 

Edited by FineCanadianFXs

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I had multiple 1L interviews and my interests section came up in every interview (1st, 2nd, and the "virtual coffees"). I wouldn't ignore it based on my experience as it allowed me to connect better with the interviewers to the point we'd sometimes spend 50% of the interview talking about random things leading on from the personal interests convo. 

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1 hour ago, FineCanadianFXs said:

I don't think this is accurate or helpful.

People can and do freeze up, even when talking about things they love. And in an interview situation, not having a quick answer about something you're vested in can feel embarassing and that exacerbates the situation. That's understandable. But that's why you prepare a little.

One of the interests I list on my resume, I have done my entire life and, at times, professionally. I have profound knowledge of it and strong opinions about it. I could talk for days about it, but at the same time that depth of knowledge makes simple questions complicated. I have enough interview experience by now to know that I could answer a question like "what's your favourite X" with "well that's a complicated question and it depends on..." and just go off. Sometimes I may not want to do that, though. Sometimes I don't want to come off as a snob. Additionally, if I want to give the interviewers something to respond to (depending on who's interviewing me) it is better to give a simple answer even if it's inaccurate because it promotes a dialogue instead of a boring ass monologue. If I don't think about these things before the interview, then when the question arrives I may be unprepared to answer. Then I'm likely to feel embarassed. But that is also really easy to avoid.

 

Nothing you said contradicts what I said. I’m not saying don’t prepare or that people don’t freeze up because of their interview skills. The fact that remains that if it’s something you can’t speak to generally, it’s probably not all that much of an interest. That you might prepare to more effectively communicate about it is a different story.

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Hold on. Are we actually talking about whether adults need to write out prepared answers to questions about their own interests?

Guys. You’re 20-whatever. Or older. Just talk like a human being would. 

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Who cares if you need to write it out to deliver your message effectively? If that's what you have to do, do it. But you should be prepared to discuss in depth and at length everything in your resume. You put it in there to tell people why to hire you, so they're going to ask about it.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Rashabon said:

If you can't speak off the cuff about your interests, then maybe those aren't actually your interests.

Well, the interest I wrote down (playing a musical instrument) is actually an interest of mine. I just hadn't considered being asked about who my favourite musician was that played that specific instrument. Lesson learned lol.

To @FineCanadianFXs point, it was a fair question - I just wasn't expecting it. I'd thought about who my favourite athletes are that participate in my sport of interest, and my favourite philosophers for the philosophical schools of thought I'm into. I'd pretty much thought of every possible question I could get asked under the sun, except that one question lol. 

 

Edited by burr0wn

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, theycancallyouhoju said:

Hold on. Are we actually talking about whether adults need to write out prepared answers to questions about their own interests?

I recommended spending 10 minutes thinking about answers to likely questions to avoid getting thrown off. I also said that writing things down helps commit things to memory if that helps. Nobody suggested sitting down and penning scripts. Adults--especially law students--get nervous at interviews. There are simple ways to manage that which I wrote above. Your helpful advice is "nah just talk like a human"? Not everyone is born with charisma and charm. 

 

 

Edited by FineCanadianFXs

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14 hours ago, FineCanadianFXs said:

I recommended spending 10 minutes thinking about answers to likely questions to avoid getting thrown off. I also said that writing things down helps commit things to memory if that helps. Nobody suggested sitting down and penning scripts. Adults--especially law students--get nervous at interviews. There are simple ways to manage that which I wrote above. Your helpful advice is "nah just talk like a human"? Not everyone is born with charisma and charm. 

 

 

But...you don’t need to memorize stuff about your literal hobbies. That’s already in your head. When I’ve asked a candidate about their interests, it’s because I want them to feel relaxed, I want a glimpse of their actual personality, and I want to know if they can talk to me like we’re both just people. Or I was just tired and bored and wanted to be mildly entertained. The more you prep an answer, the less it sounds like you’re just talking as two people talk.

This forum is a testament to people overthinking every decision with ample anxiety. Maybe the right advice for the part of interviews where you’re supposed to relax and speak naturally is to relax and speak naturally.

Believe that you can discuss your favorite stuff to think about is a very low bar for self-confidence, but I wouldn’t advise going any lower than that. 

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I'm not an overpreparer by any means, but why not spend some time making sure you know what you want to talk about if asked? Everybody puts "cooking, traveling and reading" on their resume, so make sure you know what dish, what trip, or what book you want to discuss if asked. Probably you can do this without preparing, but what's the downside to thinking about it in advance?

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48 minutes ago, Jaggers said:

I'm not an overpreparer by any means, but why not spend some time making sure you know what you want to talk about if asked? Everybody puts "cooking, traveling and reading" on their resume, so make sure you know what dish, what trip, or what book you want to discuss if asked. Probably you can do this without preparing, but what's the downside to thinking about it in advance?

Sounding like you have a prepared answer. Don’t be Zuckerberg is a pretty good interview tip.

And I don’t think it’s good to make even the easy part of job interviews sound like something you need to consider preparing. Students are anxious enough as is and already overthink the trickier stuff. On this point, just talk to your interviewer as if both of you were human adults who have interests and hobbies. 

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, theycancallyouhoju said:

This forum is a testament to people overthinking every decision with ample anxiety. Maybe the right advice for the part of interviews where you’re supposed to relax and speak naturally is to relax and speak naturally.

Lol at your solution to anxiety "just relax!" In your experience, has that ever worked? 

9 hours ago, theycancallyouhoju said:

But...you don’t need to memorize stuff about your literal hobbies. That’s already in your head. When I’ve asked a candidate about their interests, it’s because I want them to feel relaxed, I want a glimpse of their actual personality, and I want to know if they can talk to me like we’re both just people. Or I was just tired and bored and wanted to be mildly entertained. The more you prep an answer, the less it sounds like you’re just talking as two people talk.

Look, the main issue with your view is that you assume that people enter job interviews with the same conversational comfort as they do hanging out with friends and families. They don't. Some might be able to do this, but most don't. And the reason you as interviewer ask questions about a candidate's interests doesn't really help anxious candidates feel comfortable the way you might think it does. They want a job. Some desperately. It's a rough market and it has been a stressful year. If you can't empathize with a candidate who is nervous and anxious about getting a job and less capable of just chattin it up with you like you're their grampa, so you can glimpse inside their true self, then I'm not going to persuade you (but it probably isn't worth the effort anyway, I've made my point enough here and students can decide for themselves how best to prepare).

I'm just surprised you think it's controversial to suggest that people think about how they'd answer a question before an interview. And I'm equally shocked that you think that "thinking about an answer to a question" leads automatically to "sounds like a prepared robot". That's simply untrue, from my experience on both sides of the table. 

Edited by FineCanadianFXs

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2 hours ago, FineCanadianFXs said:

Lol at your solution to anxiety "just relax!" In your experience, has that ever worked? 

Look, the main issue with your view is that you assume that people enter job interviews with the same conversational comfort as they do hanging out with friends and families. They don't. Some might be able to do this, but most don't. And the reason you as interviewer ask questions about a candidate's interests doesn't really help anxious candidates feel comfortable the way you might think it does. They want a job. Some desperately. It's a rough market and it has been a stressful year. If you can't empathize with a candidate who is nervous and anxious about getting a job and less capable of just chattin it up with you like you're their grampa, so you can glimpse inside their true self, then I'm not going to persuade you (but it probably isn't worth the effort anyway, I've made my point enough here and students can decide for themselves how best to prepare).

I'm just surprised you think it's controversial to suggest that people think about how they'd answer a question before an interview. And I'm equally shocked that you think that "thinking about an answer to a question" leads automatically to "sounds like a prepared robot". That's simply untrue, from my experience on both sides of the table. 

I'm surprised  that you're having the exact opposite and thinking this is controversial. The interests questions are legit the softball questions that I gently lob to get people feeling comfortable. Especially for a litigation firm, I want a student that can have a basic conversation, especially if it's about their purported interest! Obvs some nerves are normal but these questions are warm ups before asking some critical thinking questions.

There is a big difference between having a prepared anecdote vs dropping anecdotes that don't actually fit the question because the applicant panicked. 

 Would you rather I start off with substantive law on issues that I know y'all haven't learned in law school!? 

 

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On 4/8/2021 at 11:22 PM, burr0wn said:

Well, the interest I wrote down (playing a musical instrument) is actually an interest of mine. I just hadn't considered being asked about who my favourite musician was that played that specific instrument. Lesson learned lol.

To @FineCanadianFXs point, it was a fair question - I just wasn't expecting it. I'd thought about who my favourite athletes are that participate in my sport of interest, and my favourite philosophers for the philosophical schools of thought I'm into. I'd pretty much thought of every possible question I could get asked under the sun, except that one question lol. 

 

"Hmm, while I love playing accordion, I never actually stopped to think about who is my favorite accordion player! I generally love when bands integrate accordion in non traditional ways. Ever hear of of band "Beirut"? They're a great example!"

It's OK to not answer directly if you're thrown off. It's also OK to not know an answer! Own it and continue the conversation! 

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13 hours ago, FineCanadianFXs said:

Lol at your solution to anxiety "just relax!" In your experience, has that ever worked? 

Look, the main issue with your view is that you assume that people enter job interviews with the same conversational comfort as they do hanging out with friends and families. They don't. Some might be able to do this, but most don't. And the reason you as interviewer ask questions about a candidate's interests doesn't really help anxious candidates feel comfortable the way you might think it does. They want a job. Some desperately. It's a rough market and it has been a stressful year. If you can't empathize with a candidate who is nervous and anxious about getting a job and less capable of just chattin it up with you like you're their grampa, so you can glimpse inside their true self, then I'm not going to persuade you (but it probably isn't worth the effort anyway, I've made my point enough here and students can decide for themselves how best to prepare).

I'm just surprised you think it's controversial to suggest that people think about how they'd answer a question before an interview. And I'm equally shocked that you think that "thinking about an answer to a question" leads automatically to "sounds like a prepared robot". That's simply untrue, from my experience on both sides of the table. 

I would think knowing that the purpose of those questions is to get you to relax and feel at ease and be a little looser would, in fact, help someone to relax and be at ease about answering those questions. 

And I think I am empathizing! I just have more faith in my future peers, I guess. I believe they are all capable of describing things that they specifically list as their favorite things. I used to teach ESL to 14 year olds and they could pull it off, so I have faith law students can too. I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever met someone who isn’t able to do that.

Our disagreement is about whether telling people there is a way to prep for this reduces anxiety more, or explaining to them that it’s exactly as easy as it sounds and they are 100% capable of doing it on the fly reduces anxiety more. Obviously, life is a mix of both those things. Sometimes you tell a kid you believe in them, and sometimes you tell a kid how to prep better. For the 20-something future lawyers I’m interviewing, I’m gonna draw that line at least as low as ‘tell me what makes mountain climbing so much fun for you’. It should be much higher, frankly, but I don’t know how to draw it any lower, so I’ll settle.

Over-analyzing quite literally everything is not a tendency that I think is likely to result in much anxiety reduction. 

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1 hour ago, theycancallyouhoju said:

Over-analyzing

Indeed there's a word for this in anxiety. And it's not a healthy practice.

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On 4/10/2021 at 10:58 AM, artsydork said:

"Hmm, while I love playing accordion, I never actually stopped to think about who is my favorite accordion player! I generally love when bands integrate accordion in non traditional ways. Ever hear of of band "Beirut"? They're a great example!"

It's OK to not answer directly if you're thrown off. It's also OK to not know an answer! Own it and continue the conversation! 

So, it sounds like you don't actually disagree with me, since you're suggesting a potential pre-considered answer to--or approach to answering--a question about interests that someone might not have thought of before an interview. This is all I'm suggesting too. And my earlier comments provided similar examples. Not everyone knows to answer questions like this. That's why it isn't a bad idea to take the time to think about it. 

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, theycancallyouhoju said:

Over-analyzing quite literally everything is not a tendency that I think is likely to result in much anxiety reduction. 

Nobody is recommending that anyone engage in more overanalysis. We agree on that. At a certain level, however, offering some low key preparedness options to reduce unknowns and build confidence is more helpful than suggesting that "well if you can't even talk about it, they aren't interests". I don't see how that helps except to make someone feel more embarrassed if they hesitate or stumble. That kind of advice, or at least the tone of it, tends to exacerbate. 

Edited by FineCanadianFXs
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