Callback Interviews

What is a Callback Interview?

A callback interview is usually conducted after a short screening interview whereby the employer has determined you may be a good fit and they would like to get to know you better.  The callback interview is longer than a screening interview and may last several hours or even an entire day.  You will meet with several attorneys, both partners and associates (some on the hiring committee), to assess whether you would meet the firm's needs.  You will also be able to better determine if the firm is right for you.  The individual interviews are typically 20 to 30 minutes in length and often a lunch or dinner is included so to assess the candidate in a social environment as well as at the office.

Scheduling the Callback?

Contact the recruitment coordinator within 24 hours of receiving the callback to accept or respectfully decline the callback.  It is ok to decline a callback if you know you do not want to work at that particular firm-it may be an opportunity for another student to receive an interview.  Make sure you know how much time to allot to the callback and do not schedule any other activity shortly before or after it.  If the callback is located outside of the Chicago area, make sure you discuss with the recruitment coordinator how the arrangements will be handled.  Most firms, especially large firms, will pay for your travel, accommodations, and reasonable expenses for interviews outside of your geographic location, but make sure you discuss this with the recruiting coordinator as to how the firm handles such matters.  If you are traveling to a city for more than one callback, let the firms know, as then they may split your travel costs between them.

Preparing for the Callback Interview?

It is extremely important that you adequately prepare for the callback interview.  If you have been called back, the employer has already decided that you have the credentials to work at the firm; the employer now wants to know whether you personally will fit into the firm's unique culture.  Your personality, interests, and rapport will determine whether or not you will ultimately be given an offer.

If you haven't already, conduct comprehensive research on the firm and the attorneys you will be meeting with.  Don't limit yourself to the firm's brochure or website; look at a firm's cases and clients as well. Additionally, talk to friends, associates or alumni that work there or have worked there.  This will allow you to ask intelligent questions and let the firm know you are knowledgeable and interested in their practice.  There are several ways to research a potential employer.

  • Read the employer's website
  • National Association of Law Placement (NALP)
  • Martindale-Hubbell
  • Consult information available in the CSO
  • Talk to students, friends, alumni, etc.
  • Alumnae/i-Advisor network
  • Westlaw & Lexis

Likely Callback Scenario

Upon arrival, most likely you will meet with the recruitment coordinator of the firm.  This person is part of the interview, as are any support staff members you may meet along the way.  Be kind, courteous, and professional as you never know who will have a say in the hiring decision.  Moreover, in practice, support staff can 'make or break' you.  It's best to have a positive association with everyone right off the bat.  After an initial introduction, you will meet with the attorneys who will interview you.  You may meet them one at a time, or several attorneys at once.  Commonly, the recruitment coordinator will inform you of your callback schedule/interviewer roster prior to your callback so you can adequately prepare for it.  Each interviewer will make their own assessment about you, so maintain your enthusiasm and interest in the firm throughout the process.  Your personality will distinguish you from the other candidates they are also interviewing.  At the end of your office interviews, you may then be taken to lunch or dinner with one or more attorneys which may be a more casual environment, but it is part of the interview process nonetheless.  These individuals will be gauging your social skills and out of office behavior.


After the interview, send thank you notes expressing your interest and gratitude for the opportunity to meet with the firm promptly.  This will ensure you remember everyone's name and important details you may want to relay in the letter.  Make sure the letter is concise, well composed and without typographical errors.

Quick Tips for the Callback

  • Don't arrive for the interview too early, but never be late! You should arrive about 10 minutes early.
  • Bring extra copies of your resume, writing sample(s), transcript, and references.  You never know which interviewers have received this information and who may want it.  If you have to send anything to the firm subsequent to your interview, make sure you enclose a well-written letter accompanying any materials you send them.  Additionally, send the requested materials to the firm as soon as possible after your interview.
  • Make sure you have the names and correct spellings of everyone you interviewed with so you can write a thank-you note.  You can send one thank-you letter to the recruiting coordinator or hiring partner extending your thanks to all of those you interviewed with, or you can send individual letters to all interviewers.
  • You may find yourself answering the same questions asked by different attorneys throughout the day.  Do not assume that this attorney should already know the answer to your question because you have answered it before-this is this particular interviewer's first time hearing it.  Always display enthusiasm and interest in the interviewer and your answers to the interviewer's questions.
  • Make sure you have at least 5 or 6 questions to ask your interviewers.  It is appropriate to ask the same questions to different attorneys, as you may receive different responses to your questions, thereby giving you a broader understanding of the firm and whether that environment is for you, if you should receive an offer.
  • Be aware of your body language and that of your interviewer.  Be careful not to interrupt the interviewer and know when it is appropriate to elaborate your answers.  Make sure you are thinking about your responses and answering the questions asked.  Also, don't use the words 'uh', 'um', and 'like' during your interview.  Mock interviews are great for becoming aware of bad habits and honing your skills for more effective interviews.