Considerations for an In-Person Callback

by the Summer Associate Hub Team

Although virtual screeners have become the norm, many firms prefer to conduct callbacks in person.
There are several considerations to keep in mind when participating in a callback interview at a firm’s office.
  1. Every person you meet is a member of the firm and should be treated as such.  During your visit to the office, you will likely meet receptionists, cafeteria staff, and other office staff when you arrive and/or throughout the visit.  The recruiting staff, who runs the recruiting process for the firm (a very busy time for the team), will likely meet with you and escort you to your first callback interview.  Either the recruiting team member or the interviewer will escort you to your next interviews.  
  2. BE KIND AND RESPECTFUL TO EVERY PERSON YOU MEET.  This advice goes without saying, but is sometimes not followed by law students who choose to make a good impression on attorneys, and not office staff or recruiting staff.  If you are rude to a staff member, that is likely to be noted down and can be the reason to not receive an offer – there are numerous stories of this type.  (This is also good advice to follow when you are actually working at the firm.)
    Note: Your callback may include a lunch or coffee date with attorneys.  Keep in mind that the attorneys will notice if you act rudely to the waitstaff.  Be nice to everyone and make a good impression inside and outside the office.
  3. Time between interviews still counts.  Between callback interviews, either the interviewer that you just met with or a member of the recruiting team will escort you to the next interview.  Although the prior interview is “over,” is not really over.  It is helpful to keep a normal chatter during the time walking from one interview to the other.  After all, many attorneys say that the most important thing they want to find out during a callback is whether you are someone they want to spend time with at 12am on a busy deal.
  4. If there is an awkward silence, consider commenting on something you like about the office space or ask a question that you didn’t have the chance to ask during the interview.  Consider keeping a list of basic questions in your head as a backup (this is always good practice) and pull from those.  You can also ask questions to the interviewer that you haven’t covered and that are not law-related per se, but can be interesting small-talk points of conversation (and not too personal), such as: where are you from originally, do you like living in [X] city, how often do you come into the office, etc.
  5. Keep the energy up.  With 3-6 consecutive interviews (often covering largely the same topics), a callback can be tiring.  Do your best to keep your energy levels high throughout the length of the callback.  
  6. Callbacks are a two-way street.  The prevailing wisdom is that, if a firm invites you in for a callback, you are more likely than not to land an offer (some in law school might call this “by a preponderance of the evidence”).  So, keep in mind that the firm is also trying to sell itself to you during the process.
  7. During your in-person callback, you have an opportunity to gather information about the firm, clarify questions, and understand the firm culture and practice areas in a way that is not possible in a virtual interview.  Pay attention to your surroundings as you’re walking around the office between interviews and interacting with attorneys. Consider asking yourself these questions when you are at the firm:
    Are doors open or closed?
    Are there attorneys in the office?
    How do the attorneys dress while in the office?
    Are attorneys interacting with one another?
    Did the attorney who escorted me know the attorney to which they dropped me off?
    How are their interactions with staff?
    How is their energy?

Summer Associate Hub Team

This content is based on our own experiences as former law students and BigLaw attorneys, and countless conversations with firm recruiting teams, law students, law school career advisors, legal career coaches, and hiring partners.  

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