|Published in the September 20, 2011, Advisor
Law firms sometimes — but not always — ask applicants to participate in more than one round of interviews. When that happens, the first interview is generally short — twenty to forty minutes. The second interview, called a “callback interview,” can last three to six hours — or longer. During a callback, a candidate should expect to meet with six or more lawyers for a series of thirty-minute interviews; employers also often send a candidate to lunch or dinner with two other lawyers. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for a callback interview.
- Before your callback, politely ask your recruiting contact for a schedule of the day if he or she has not provided one. This will help you know which attorneys to research. Understand, though, that the schedule may change, and you may meet with others instead.
- Do your homework, and come with questions. Don’t ask every lawyer the same question; they will compare notes at the end of the day. For the same reason, make sure that your responses are consistent throughout the interview.
- Prepare for a marathon. Eat a good breakfast. If you are invited to have a glass of water or take a restroom break, say yes. Do not drink alcohol at lunch; have at most one alcoholic beverage at dinner, and only if your hosts are drinking alcohol as well.
- Bring copies of your written materials, including a writing sample and list of references, even if the employer has not asked for them.
- Review your materials before your interview. Be prepared to talk about everything in your resume, cover letter, writing sample, and transcript in a positive light.
- The interview begins when you set foot in the parking lot, and it ends when you step back into your car. Turn off your cell phone before you enter the building. Be courteous to receptionists and administrative assistants. Think about what you say out loud while you are in the restroom. Lunch may feel more casual than an in-office interview, but the lawyers you dine with are evaluating your potential as a colleague and advocate.
- Try to relax and be (the most polished and professional version of) yourself. Feel free to pause and think before you answer a question. Make an effort to engage your interviewers in conversation rather than providing short responses and then waiting for the next question.
- If you have a moment to yourself between interviews, jot down some notes. This will help you when you write thank-you letters after your busy day.
- Write a personalized, unique thank-you letter to each lawyer you meet. Send the letters as soon as possible after your callback.
- Know what you will say if you receive an offer. You do not need to respond on the spot; you can express appreciation and enthusiasm and ask when the employer needs a response. For reference, review the NALP guidelines at http://www.nalp.org/fulltextofnalpprinciplesandstandards – Part_V._General_Standards, but note that not all employers are NALP members.