Callback Interviews: What You Should Know

(Revised November 16, 2016): Callback interviews (“callbacks”) are the series of interviews that follow successful initial screening interviews. They generally occur in the employer’s office and offers to participate in callbacks are generally made via phone. Therefore, we recommend that you make sure that your voicemail message is clear and professional.

You may receive multiple callback invitations. If so, before scheduling your interviews, we recommend you think about how many interviews to accept. It is important to balance interviewing with other factors such as school, extracurricular activities, and work. You don’t want to overextend yourself because your performance in interviews, and in your other activities, may suffer. You also don’t want to accept a callback interview with an employer with whom you are sure you would not accept an offer of employment. It is unfair to the employer and other interviewing students to do so.

When you receive a callback interview, respond to the employer promptly. Make sure you keep a detailed calendar for yourself so that you don’t schedule interviews when you have other commitments such as on-campus interviews, moot or mock court competitions, or exams. Avoid rescheduling interviews, but if you must cancel or reschedule an interview, do it as far in advance as possible. If you are scheduling several interviews in one city at the same time, inform each employer about your other interviews so that, together, you can decide on a convenient appointment time and so that the employers can share travel expenses. 

During a callback interview, you have a unique opportunity to see the interviewer’s office environment. Try to get a feel for the office culture and watch for subtle differences between employers. For example, are most of the attorneys’ doors closed or open? Do the associates seem content or do they all look harried and overworked? While you’re waiting for your interview to begin, pay attention to activities at the reception desk and observe interactions among staff members and attorneys. Is the staff friendly to one another and to you? Are the attorneys respectful to the staff and to one another? All of these factors can give you an insight into what working for a particular employer might be like.

See Interviewing, Networking & Etiquette Tips for videos on handling callbacks and offers.

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