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How to Get That Callback Interview

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Any job interview is stressful, but knowing you are only one in a continuous line of potential job candidates parading in front of the on-campus recruiters - and meeting up to 10 recruiters yourself in a single day - can be extremely wearing and disheartening. How do you impress the interviewers enough to be the one they want to see again?

"Making yourself be the chosen one early in the process with the preliminary interviews is tough, but if you want to be chosen for a callback interview you want to be perceived as the best," said Jerry Nash, deputy director of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). "That means doing your homework not only on the organization as a whole but on the individual conducting the interview as well to the extent that you can."

Nash remembers one friend who interviewed students on his birthday. When it came to arranging callback interviews, he chose the only student who expressed good wishes to him because it was his birthday.

"It showed a discipline and a thoroughness," Nash said.

Melissa Balaban, director of career services at the University of Southern California Law School in Los Angeles, said students should do more than just check out the firm's Web site.

"Think of intelligent questions to ask that are based on information that isn't readily available on their Web site so it shows you did some work," she said. "It's so easy today with the Internet and Lexis or Nexis to search for free. It will not only bode well on them as employees but also gives them some better information on the place they might be working."

Mario Trimble, a second-year student at the University of Colorado School of Law in Boulder, spent last summer as a summer associate at Kutak, Rock in Denver - a job he got through OCI. He says preparation for interviews is critical and advises students to start early.

"That made a difference to me," he said. "I spent some time getting all my ducks in a row, honing my resume, talking to faculty and having all my references prepared before the process started."

Nash also recommends students practice what they might say if asked about their future plans or why they chose law school.

"Being able to articulate your own personal and professional goals clearly, concisely and professionally is critical," he said.

But Balaban advises against too much preparation.

"Rehearse and prepare, always walking in the fine line between sounding rehearsed and prepared and being caught unprepared," she said.

Trimble suggests putting something unusual or interesting on your resume to help break the ice. He is a semi-professional fencer and finds interviewers like to ask him about that. Plus, it makes him more memorable later on.

David Booher, a third-year student at USC, also found his summer job with O'Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles through OCI. His best advice is to make sure you don't get tripped up on something simple.

"Have a perfect resume and writing sample with no typos or simple mistakes," he said. "Because the competition id going to be stiffer, don't give the employers and reason to easily dismiss you as a candidate."

This story appeared in the September, 2003 edition of The National Jurist,

See the following articles for more information:

Department of Mathematics at the University of Southern California


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