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My Interview Request with a Firm Has Changed - Does This Mean They Don't Want Me?

published May 23, 2016

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( 33 votes, average: 4.2 out of 5)
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I received an interview request, and thought it would be with a group of attorneys, but now it has been changed/downgraded to only one or two attorneys, or changed from an in-person interview to a phone screen. Does this mean the firm is not interested in me?

If your interview changes does it mean the firm is no longer interested?


Firms deciding to change the type of interview, the number of interviewers, or how many “stages” an interview process will take for a particular search happens extremely frequently, especially these days when we have technology that allows for “face-to-face” remote interviews via Skype or very frequently the law firm’s own internal videoconference systems.

If a firm is not interested in your candidacy, they simply won’t interview you, period. If they are taking the time to have at least one of their attorneys speak to you instead of working on a client matter, making a business pitch, interviewing another candidate, etc., you can take that as a good sign of interest. Attorneys and law firms do not like to waste time just to be polite.

There are myriad reasons why a firm will change the type of interview or number of interviewers, but the bottom line is that it is almost always related to the fact that attorneys are extremely busy, and coordinating a set schedule where all of them are available to speak with you in succession is very difficult, if not impossible, for the recruiting coordinator.

It is very frequently the case that firms will have to switch up the interview roster at the very last moment due to a client emergency, family emergency, etc. If you are a practicing attorney, you know how busy and often unpredictable your own schedule can be. And if a practice group is busy enough to be interviewing for a new position, all of the attorneys in that group will already have a full plate on their schedule.

Candidates thus need to be flexible with their expectations of the interview process, and remain positive and present an eager, professional face to whomever they speak with at their target firm.

I had one candidate about two years ago who received an initial interview request – he was located in New York, and the interview was for the firm’s Los Angeles office – and when the firm changed it from flying him out for an in-person interview to starting the process with a videoconference to accommodate the partners’ schedules, the candidate took offense, believing this to be a sign that they were not prepared to “court” him sufficiently, and declined the videoconference interview. Ironically enough, while this candidate was currently at a very good firm, his credentials were not particularly impressive (mediocre grades at a barely Top 50 law school, very senior with no portable business), and this was the first and only interview request he received. Two years later, he is still stuck at his same firm.

This is a topic for a separate article, but no matter what type of interview request you receive, whether it is via phone, Skype, the firm’s own remote videoconferences via another office, or in-person, you should treat them all the same in terms of your preparation, dress, and demeanor. Do your research, dress professionally (seriously, even on the phone there can be a subtle but perceptible difference in terms of the professionalism you convey through your voice when you are dressed the part versus sitting in jeans and a t-shirt), sit upright and speak clearly, enthusiastically, and directly to your interviewer. I have prepped hundreds of candidates for interviews. Trust me, it does make a difference.
The interview process is unique to each firm, and you should be prepared for every type of interview a firm may request. But the bottom line is that no matter the type of interview and the number of interviewers, if a firm is bothering to spend attorney time and resources to speak with you, it is because they are interested, and it is your job to sell yourself.

To learn more about how to sell yourself in a law firm interview, read this: How to Sell Yourself at Law Job Interviews.

published May 23, 2016

( 33 votes, average: 4.2 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.