The “call-back,” or second interview, is an indication of the employer’s increased interest in you as a potential employee. During the call-back, the employer has the opportunity to further evaluate you, to clarify information on your resume, to determine “fit” and to sell the firm or organization to you. Remember that any interview is not only an opportunity for you to market yourself, but a chance to evaluate that employer.
How are the call-back interviews different from the first interview?
The call-back interview will be much longer and more in-depth than the initial interview and you will meet with many individuals in the organization, sometimes for as long as a half day or full day. These interviews will give the interviewers and other attorneys in the organization the opportunity to determine if you will fit in, as a person, with their practice group. They will be assessing whether or not you are someone with whom they can work those long hours and to whom they can relate on a professional, intellectual and emotional level.
The question in their minds will be: Do I Want to See and Deal with This Person Every Day?
Arranging the Call-Back Interview
If your initial interview was successful, you may receive a letter or phone call from the employer inviting you to visit its office. Make sure to:
- Answer your phone as professionally as possible, keeping in mind that it could be a potential employer.
- Have your answering machine turned on with a professional message.
- Have notes on possible employers within close range of the phone.
- Acknowledge a call-back invitation as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours.
- Confirm your acceptance with an e-mail or a letter to the employer.
Generally, employers make hiring decisions on a revolving basis. Therefore, you should try to follow some basic logistical guidelines:
- Try to arrange the interview with the employer at the earliest possible date. If you interview at a later date, you run the risk that offers may already have been extended.
- Know your schedule before you call the employer, and be prepared to suggest two or three available times.
Preparing for the Call-Back Interview
Be prepared to deal with the following issues:
- Timing – Call-back interviews may last from several hours to an entire day. For planning purposes, ask beforehand how long the interview is expected to last, and if it includes lunch.
- Multiple Interviewers – Generally, the call-back interview consists of back-to-back interviews within the organization. Be sure to get the names of the interviewers in advance of the call-back interview for research purposes.
- Research – Whenever possible, know more about the organization, than you knew in the initial interview. Speak to faculty and local practitioners about the organization as well as other students who have worked there. A Lexis-Nexis or Westlaw check may provide information on recent matters in which the organization has been involved. A search of legal news files and periodicals will also direct you to relevant articles.
- Questions – Do not be surprised if you are asked the same questions that were asked during your initial interview. You will likely be meeting with different individuals who may want to elicit similar information. Thus, you should stay in interview mode throughout the process, even if you find yourself providing identical information repeatedly. Be sure that your answers to the different interviewers remain consistent.
- Practice – Prepare and practice (out loud) answers to expected questions and then be prepared for anything.
- Documentation – Always take multiple copies of your resume, writing sample, reference list and transcript. In addition, keep references informed of where you are in the interview process and whether they might expect a reference check phone call.
What to Expect
- Expect to meet with at least three or four attorneys – partners, general counsel and associates.
- Expect each interview to be about 30 minutes.
- Expect and be prepared to discuss everything and anything, including research papers or articles you have authored, courses you have taken, cutting edge issues in your practice area, your hobbies, etc.
- Remember that anything on your resume is fair game, as are questions about your future aspirations.
- Expect to ask meaningful questions about the firm and your practice area.
- Expect to maintain professionalism at all times. Always assume that young associates (and Georgetown Law alumni) are a part of the hiring process.
- Expect to go out to lunch with several associates – including recent alumni – that will be writing an evaluation of you. Do NOT drink alcohol on these lunches even if the associates drink. Keep in mind that they already have a job and you do not. While the lunch may appear on its face to be a casual social event, it is not—it is part of the job interview process and is treated accordingly. Their remarks and comments about your behavior and conversation during lunch will be reported back to the hiring committee.
Thank You Notes
A thank you note is a must following a call-back interview, and you should not wait a few days to send it. Send it within 24 hours after you have been interviewed. Notes sent via regular mail or e-mail are both acceptable. In large structured recruitment offices, files are kept on each applicant and anyone having contact with you is requested to put copies of correspondence in your file. Under the circumstances, the same note addressed to each interviewer does not make sense. It is recommended that you send a thank you note to each person that participated in the interview.
You should address your thank you letter to:
- The person who had responsibility for your interview schedule. Some firms involve young associates in the process by assigning them to a recruit for that day.
- The initial interviewer, if he or she is responsible for the call-back invitation.
- The recruitment coordinator.
- Each person with whom you met during the call-back interview.
When writing your thank you note, be sure to follow the basic guidelines outlined earlier, as well as the following:
- Make sure you do not have any typographical mistakes in your thank you notes.
- You should make sure that you have the proper spelling and title of each person who interviewed you.
- Include specific information that was discussed during the interview. You might want to refer to a particular discussion you had during the interview. For example, if you went to the same school or come from the same state as the interviewer, include this in your thank you note. Try to connect on whatever level you connected during the interview. This will also remind the interviewer of who you are. He or she is undoubtedly interviewing many candidates for the position.
- The note should clearly acknowledge that you visited the organization.
- The note should not be so general that it could be used for all call-back interviews. In fact, this could do more harm than good. For example, allude to details such as the employer’s plans for a new building you were shown, or the department’s weekly seminars, etc.
Again, be sure to send your thank you note as soon as possible after the call-back interview.
There are a myriad of details that go into arranging and attending a call-back interview. One area of concern for both students and employers is cost and reimbursement. Please follow these suggestions:
- All employers have different policies regarding call-back expenses; do not make any assumptions about their expense policies. The first rule in dealing with expenses is to ask.
- Refer reimbursement questions to the recruitment coordinators; they are a wonderful resource within the organization and are charged with managing such issues. For a sample reimbursement form, please refer to the NALP reimbursement form.