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Career Center: Navigating the Callback – 10 Tips for a Successful Interview

'So, do you have any questions for ME?'

Not too long ago, when law firms used to supersize their summer associate classes and make offers to anyone who had a pulse, callback interviews were a mere formality.  Today’s post-recessionary firms are understandably more careful about hiring, and as a result,the callback interview has become a sine qua non for getting into Biglaw.  We talked with an attorney recruiter, as well as attorneys currently conducting callback interviews, to bring you the top ten tips for getting an edge over the competition.

The complete article is available on the Career Center, but we’ve highlighted the first three tips after the jump.

1. Do your due diligence about the firm and your interviewers.  Everyone knows that law students are desperate for Biglaw jobs these days, but interviewers will gauge how interested you are in theirfirm by how much effort you’ve put into researching the firm and its attorneys.  We recently talked with attorneys currently interviewing summer associate candidates who say they have dinged candidates who they feel didn’t show enough interest in their firm.

At the very least, you need to make sure you can provide a convincing and substantive answer to the question, “Why are you interested in this firm?”  While the firm’s website is a good place to start your research, at the Career Center, you will find a firm’s reputation, practice area strengths, and what the associate experience is really like in a single firm profile. Doing a Westlaw, Lexis, or Google search can help you find news about the firm and recent cases in which the firm has appeared.

If you don’t already know the names of the attorneys who you will be interviewing with, see if the recruiting coordinator would be willing to provide them in advance of your interview. Take the time to thoroughly review the attorneys’ bios on the firm website.  Many interviewer-specific questions can be generated based on an attorney’s practice areas, representative matters, and career path.  Note any connections you have with each attorney that you can bring up in the course of your interview.  Additionally, a quick Google search of an attorney’s name may turn up recent news about the attorney or recent matters he or she is involved with.

2. Load up your arsenal of general questions.  While it is important to prepare specific questions about the firm and your interviewers, it is equally important to have general questions ready in case one or more of the attorneys on your interview schedule is swapped out for someone else at the last minute, or if you encounter dead silence five minutes into your interview.  Some examples of good questions to ask interviewers are: “What is your typical day like?” and “What do you like best about your job?”  Also, coming up with various questions about firm life or policies (that aren’t already answered on the firm’s website) can demonstrate that you are interested in the firm as a whole, and not just in the summer program.

3. Have a geographic defense.  In better economic times, firms did not care as much about a summer associate candidate’s ties to the geographic location of its office.  But today’s firms have significantly downsized their summer programs and are much more judicious in their hiring decisions.  You might be a stellar candidate, but if the firm has any reason to believe you are using a summer associate position in its office as a ticket to a summer vacation in a fun locale, chances are the firm is going to choose someone else over you who has demonstrated a greater interest or a stronger tie.  So if you are interviewing with an office to which you do not have strong geographic ties, be prepared to persuade the interviewer why you really would accept a permanent offer to work there.  It can help if the firm you are interviewing with is located in a geographic market that is known for an area of law in which you intend to practice.&nbsp

Visit the Associate Resources section of the Career Center to access the complete article and see additional articles that will help you navigate the job search process.