As many of you know, July 8 is the first deadline to bid for on-campus interviews (OCI) and it is quickly approaching. For those who have checked out the list of employers coming to campus, you might have noticed that both the Office of the Public Defender (PD) and the Office of the District Attorney (DA) will be accepting bids for interviews. If selected for an interview, you will want to give yourself enough time to prepare answers to questions commonly asked by their respective offices. Below are a few questions that you can expect to hear as a student looking to gain summer employment. Although the potential interview may be a month or two away, it never hurts to get a jump on practicing for what you may be asked. Practice makes perfect, and allowing yourself plenty of time to polish your answers will only increase your chances of securing the job.
Office of the Public Defender’s Office
1: Why do you want to work for the PD’s Office?
This question is asked in almost every interview; it’s an opportunity to show your personality and your passion. Prepare an answer that highlights who you are and why you would be an excellent fit in the PD’s office. If you have previous experiences or personal anecdotes that would relate to your reasons for wanting to interview, incorporate them in your answer which should be polished, personal, and succinct.
2: What qualities do you possess that would make you a good fit for the job?
This is another question that allows you to show your personality and passion. Craft a concise and creative answer that will make you stand out. This is the time to weave in past experiences and make personal connections. Try to take it beyond the surface level of: “I am smart as evidenced by my grades so, I will do good work.” Keep in mind that the job includes collaborating with co-workers and your demeanor in the office, in addition to assignments and cases.
3: How do you feel about helping defend people accused of serious crimes?
The PD commonly asks this question to determine if you are going to be able to work on cases where people may be accused of very serious offenses. They want to know that you are passionate enough to get through the days where the work may be tough. Think about this question thoroughly before you even apply and be sure to prepare a thoughtful response.
Office of the District Attorney’s Office
1: Why do you want to work for the DA’s Office?
Like the PD’s office, this is a commonly asked question in DA interviews. Follow the same advice above but know your audience. The answer you would give to the DA should be quite different from the one you prepared for the PD’s office. Especially if you plan on submitting a bid for both offices, make sure this answer is unique for both interviews.
2:Are you able to work on cases with situations and documents/pictures that may make you uncomfortable?
Likely if you were to be hired at the DA’s office you would see some pictures and documents that would be unsettling, and the interviewer is trying to determine if you will be able to handle some of the unfortunate realities of the job. Think about this question before stepping foot in the interview room so that you can answer confidently during the interview.
3: The DA’s office is known to ask on-the-spot legal hypotheticals.
Although the thought of combining test-like legal analysis and the pressure of an interview is the stuff of nightmares, you got this. Take a breath and allow yourself a few moments to think through the scenario. A quickly delivered but poorly thought out answer will not score you any points. The main purpose behind these types of questions is to see if you are able to think like an attorney and remain calm under pressure. The DA’s office is looking for an answer that is well thought out but also demonstrates a commitment to upholding justice.
These questions may seem impossible to answer but with some careful crafting and practice, you will ace the interview. Feel free schedule an appointment for a mock interview or interview coaching with the CDO. We also have sample hypos to help students get some practice before the big interview.