Call Backs or Second Interviews
Anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after an initial on- or off-campus interview, you will receive a phone call or a letter from the employer’s recruitment administrator or one of the attorneys with whom you interviewed inviting you for a callback interview. It is a professional courtesy to respond within one business day. Callbacks will vary based on the individual employer, and whether the position is in the public or private sector.
Scheduling the Callback
Contact the recruitment administrator within a business day to accept or decline the callback. Callback interviews vary by employer and may last for two to three hours or be a day-long event. It is acceptable to ask the recruitment administrator how much time you should allot for the callback, so that you can schedule more than one interview on that day, if need be. If you schedule a callback at one employer in the morning and one at another for that afternoon, be sure not to cut it too close, especially if you are unfamiliar with the city.
If you receive an invitation for a callback to an employer you are no longer interested in, please decline the invitation as soon as possible. Don’t worry about hurting the employer’s feelings. You’ll be saving them and yourself valuable time and you’ll be creating an interview opportunity for another student.
Making Travel Arrangements
If the firm is not located in Columbus, it is your responsibility to ask how the firm would like you to make your travel arrangements. It is appropriate for you to ask for hotel recommendations as well.
It is customary for large law firms to pay the expense of your trip, including hotel accommodations, but each firm handles this differently. Some will ask you to submit receipts along with a NALP Travel Reimbursement Form and will reimburse you; others will have you book flights and hotel through their travel agent and pick up the tab. Most law firms will reimburse you for reasonable expenses associated with your interview. That generally means coach airfare, taxi fare to and from the airport and to and from the hotel to the firm’s offices, a single hotel room, and a meal or two (depending on your arrival).
If you will be traveling to a city for more than one callback, tell each of the firms that you will also be seeing other firms on the same trip and ask the procedure for sharing the travel costs. Do not worry about employers finding out that you are interviewing with other firms. Employers will appreciate your trying to save them money.
You may feel uncomfortable asking about travel reimbursement, but it is crucial you do so to avoid any misunderstanding between you and the employer.
Who Conducts the Interview?
When you schedule the callback, ask the recruitment administrator how many attorneys you will be meeting and try to get their names. Generally, you will meet with between three and six attorneys, ranging from the more junior to at least one partner. One or two of them will most likely be on the hiring committee and all will have input in the hiring decision. You may also spend some time speaking with the recruitment administrator at the beginning and end of your interview.
All the rules that applied in the on-campus, or first interview still apply. However, since they are interested in you, they will be both interviewing you and selling themselves and their organization. In addition, they are observing you on their turf and gathering the observations of people other than those who interviewed you, for example, your lunch companions, receptionist or legal secretaries. You may be tempted to let your guard down during the day, but don’t!
Social situations are often a part of the callback interview. You may be expected to have dinner the evening before, and lunches are almost always part of the program. They are interested in observing your social skills so do not order anything that is difficult to handle. If you have special dietary needs, let the administrator or lawyer who is setting up your visit know in advance. In some cases, social events take place at the home of a partner or lawyer in the firm/organization. These kinds of events are especially nice, but be sure to write a thank you note to the spouse or others who made the evening so special.
You will be seeing several people during your visit, not all of whom are good interviewers. There may be time when you will have to take the initiative and let the interviewer know what you believe is important. Take control of the interview. Use the opportunities that you have to speak to guide the interview into areas you want to talk about. Answer his/her questions keeping in mind what you want the interviewer to know about you. Try to keep the interview focused on your credentials or on the interviewer’s personal experience with the organization.
You will often be asked if you have any questions about the organization and you should be prepared with at least 5-10, more if you will be seeing a number of attorneys. Think about what you need to know about the employer in order to determine whether or not this is an organization for which you would like to work. Feel free to inquire about the kind of things you need to know to make informed judgments.
End on a positive note when the interview is over. Don’t be afraid to tell the interviewer that you think there is a good fit between you and the position. Use the interviewer’s name. Ask when you’ll be hearing from the employer and reiterate one last time your strong interest in the employer. Shake hands, thank the interviewer for his/her time, maintain eye contact, and smile. Once you are out of the interview room, you may wish to jot down the interviewer’s name and a few things about the interview for future reference.
Finally, observe the support staff and be especially courteous to any administrative personnel (such as recruiting administrators) who are involved in arranging your visit or talking with you. Support staff and administrative staff can influence hiring decisions. Always treat people with the courtesy and respect that they deserve and remember that their opinions are valued and have been valued for a long time. Observe the staff for your own information also. If the staff seems happy, has a good working relationship with the lawyers in the firm, and the atmosphere seems positive, there is a high likelihood that the office is a pleasant place to work.
Be observant. The callback is your opportunity to interview the employer and make that extremely important decision about whether or not this is a place where you can happily begin your career.
If you have any specific questions about callback interviews or want help strategizing, contact your career advisor.