A firm has two main goals for a callback interview: (1) To see whether a candidate is a good fit for the firm and (2) to sell the firm to the candidate. Firms will determine whether a candidate is a good fit by trying to get to know the person during their time at the office. The interviewers’ goal is to feel like they really know who the candidate is by the end of the extended interview. Interviewers will sell the firm to a candidate by describing the firm’s operation, atmosphere and work through personal experiences they have had with the firm.
The most common question students have is “When will I hear back from a firm after my initial OCI interview?” Most firms will contact you shortly after your OCI interview to schedule a callback. However, some will contact you a few weeks later. Do not get anxious if you have not heard back from the firm. It could be that the firm has not yet made any decisions. It is best to not contact the firm unless you have received an offer from another firm and the deadline to accept is approaching. Be prepared to state who the firm is when you call. Callback invitations may come by phone, letter or email. Make sure your contact information is correct on your resume. Make sure you have an answering machine or voicemail (with a professional sounding message) and check your email often.
Call the firm as soon as possible after you receive the invitation, even if you will not be able to schedule your callback for a few weeks. It is considered professional courtesy to respond within one day. You must respond to decline a callback with the same professional courtesy. Sometimes, students receive callback invitations at the conclusion of their OCI interview. In such cases, you should respond enthusiastically but you do not need to commit to the callback at that time, unless you are certain you want to accept.
BEFORE THE CALLBACK
Research, research, research! It is imperative that you prepare for your callback interview by doing a lot of research. [link the word research to the research section of preparing for the interview] You should research the firm, its summer associate program, the city the firm is located in and the individual attorneys you are meeting with.
Learn about the city/state/region you are interviewing in. It is possible that you will be asked why you are interested in the city you are interviewing in. Be prepared to discuss your interest in the city as well as the state and region. You want the interviewer to be convinced that you intend to move to the city should you receive an offer.
Learn about the attorneys you will be meeting with. You should ask the recruitment coordinator the names of the attorneys you will be meeting with. The recruitment coordinator may not have this information available for you until a few days before your callback. If you do get the names of the attorneys in time, you should learn more about them. Martindale-Hubbel (www.martindale.com) provides short biographies of attorneys. In addition, the firm’s web site should also provide biographical and professional information about the attorneys. You may find that the firm has scheduled interviews with attorneys that share some things in common with you (law school or college alma mater, work experience, etc.).
Prepare questions to ask during your callback interview. Be sure to prepare questions to ask during your interviews. It is acceptable to ask the same or similar questions of more than one attorney because you may get different answers. You can also tailor questions to a particular attorney and his practice area or experience. Do not ask questions regarding billable hours, whether associates work on weekends, dress code, attrition rates or the like until you have an offer.
What do I wear? Dress as you did for the OCI interview. In other words, make it a point to dress professionally. Be sure to take care of the basic hygiene requirements prior to your interview. This is not the time to show the latest non-professional fashion trends. Men should wear suits or slacks with a jacket, dress shirt and tie. Have a clean shave and neat haircut. Women should wear suits (pants or skirts). Hair nails and make-up should be neat and fresh. Do not show bare arms, sleeveless tops (except under suit jacket), cleavage, glitter or excessive jewelry. No sundresses or mini-skirts. No open-toe shoes.
Packing for an out of town callback. If you are flying to another part of the country, be sure to dress accordingly for the weather. Check www.weather.com for the latest forecast in the city you are visiting. Always bring extra shirts, shoes, socks, panty hose etc. just in case. Bring an overcoat and umbrella.
AT THE CALLBACK INTERVIEW
Greeting attorneys and staff. You should treat anyone you meet at the firm respectfully, whether the person is a partner or a staff member. Shake hands when introduced. Always make eye contact.
Pay attention! A callback interview is the perfect opportunity for you to observe the firm. You will probably be taken from one office to another for each interview. While walking through the office, try to notice the atmosphere of the firm. Do attorneys greet each other when they pass? Are attorneys’ doors open or closed? Is there friendly interaction between the staff and attorneys? Do people seem pleasant or harried and tired?
Saying goodbye. Thank each interviewer at the conclusion of your interview. Ask for a business card so you have proper spelling of their name as well as their contact information. The last part of a callback generally consists of a tour of the office and a final discussion with either the hiring attorney, recruiting coordinator or the attorney in charge of the summer associate program. You can take this opportunity to ask questions’ regarding the firm’s hiring process (i.e. when the hiring committee meets) and when you can expect to hear back from the firm. At the end of the callback, thank the recruitment coordinator for coordinating the callback.
AFTER THE CALLBACK INTERVIEW
Take notes. Immediately after the callback, write down notes on your impression of the firm and about the discussions you had with each attorney. These notes will be helpful when you prepare your thank you letters and will help you make a decision should you get an offer from the firm.
Thank you letters. Within 48 hours, prepare and send thank you notes to each interviewer you met and the recruitment coordinator. Do not send the same letter to each person. Tailor each thank you letter to the individual by referencing topics you discussed at your interview. Also, do not send thank you letters via email.
Hearing back from the firm. Remember to write down when you were told you would hear back from the firm. If that time passes without any response from the firm, you may contact the recruitment coordinator to reiterate your interest in the firm and to ask if there is any additional information that you can provide them. If enough time has passed that you have received additional grades or garnered any additional accolades, offer to send that information to the firm. Do not ask point blank whether a decision has been made and do not continue to nag the recruitment coordinator. Keep in mind that firms often make a first round of offers and then, based on how many rejections they receive, make a second round of offers. Therefore, you may still receive an offer even if you do not hear from them soon after the callback.