How to Prepare for Callbacks

How to Prepare for CallbacksThis week we welcome back guest writer Briana Borgolini to talk about some advice for handling callback interviews.

First, congratulations on finishing (or almost finishing) OCI, and reaching the callback stage! This can be a very exciting time, but it can also be very stressful. It is one thing to get through a twenty-minute interview on your own campus, and quite another to get through an hours-long interview at the firm itself. For many, the callback interview is a very new experience. Fortunately, there are a few things you can consider doing to prepare yourself for successful interviews.

Know the Firm

At this stage in the interview process, you should know what you’re interviewing for. If you are accepting a callback, you should be able to articulate at least some reasons why you are interested in the employer. Now is the time to take a closer look at what the employer has to offer. Be sure to know all the basic information such as what practice areas the firm has, how the summer program is structured and how big the firm is (especially the office you’re interviewing with). In addition, be sure that you know who you’re interviewing with ahead of time, so that you can find out more about them before you meet. Doing your homework before the callback can make a big difference in your success!

Know your Story

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to spend some time thinking through your story. Aside from helping you answer the “tell me about yourself” question, being able to articulate how and why you got to where you are can help you structure responses to a variety of questions. If you have a mix of experiences listed on your resume, be prepared to tell your interviewer more about them than what appears on paper. In addition, make sure you can connect the dots for your interviewer – you don’t want to leave them questioning how you got to law school, or to the firm. Of course, your narrative should be genuine, and presented in a way that you’re comfortable with. If you’re straining too much, it will be obvious to the interviewer – so be sure to be authentic!

Review Common Questions Ahead of Time

There are at least a few common interview questions that you should prepare for ahead of time. Generally, you should expect to be asked why you went to law school, why you are interested in the firm and why you are interested in a certain type of law. Besides these, common questions may include some about your strengths and weaknesses, what challenges you’ve had to overcome, how you work through projects or how you work on teams. You can of course never anticipate exactly what your interviewer will ask, and your answers should not sound too rehearsed. However, having a few main points in mind can help calm your nerves and make it easier to answer under pressure!

Bring your Materials

This one should be somewhat obvious – but be sure that you have extra copies of your application materials with you. While many of your interviewers will have copies of the materials you’ve submitted, it is possible that someone who was not originally expecting to interview you will need to step in for someone else. In that case, you should be sure to have materials readily available. Also, many employers will wait until the callback stage to ask for a writing sample – so don’t be unprepared!

Prepare Questions

Hopefully this is a another obvious one. Almost nothing makes you look less interested in a position than failing to ask any questions of your interviewer. You should look up your interviewers’ information before your callback, and try your best to have some tailored questions for each person you meet with. For example, it is probably a good idea to ask different questions to partners than to junior associates, because their experiences and roles at the firm are very different. However, there are some types of questions that can (and should) be repeated, because varying opinions can be helpful to you. Questions about why your interviewer was attracted to the firm, or why they stayed at the firm, are great questions to ask multiple people because it gives you a better sense of why current employees are there. Remember, these questions are ultimately to help you – so think of these ahead of time!

Be Yourself

Finally, interviews can just be awkward if you aren’t genuine. It can be fairly obvious at some points if you’re trying to change your demeanor, or your answers are really rehearsed – so relax and try to be yourself! Remember, at this stage the interview should be a two-way street. Both you and the firm want to find the right fit, and you can’t do that if you aren’t yourself!

Callbacks can seem overwhelming, but taking some time to prepare can help you succeed, and make the right choice for you!


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About Briana Borgolini

Briana Borgolini is a law student at Villanova University's Charles Widger School of Law. She received her undergraduate degree from Brown University, where she graduated with her B.A. in Human Biology with Honors. Briana worked in public health research for four years before law school and hopes that her non-traditional perspective can help others navigate the law school and legal career process.

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