How do you distinguish yourself during the coveted call-back interview?  Perkins Coie shares its top 10 tips.

Gain perspective from:

Michael Gotham, Director of Recruiting & Retention, oversees law student and lateral attorney recruiting, new attorney orientation and integration, associate evaluation and compensation, and other attorney personnel matters. Michael is also a former president of the National Association for Law Placement.

Cori Moore is a partner in the firm's Litigation group and Hiring Partner in the Seattle office. She focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation, including representing clients in various industries in contract, consumer protection, antitrust, trade secret, business tort and class action matters. Cori has also conducted internal corporate investigations involving allegations of employee misconduct and fraud.

Top 10 Tips for Call-Backs 

  1. Be knowledgeable about the employer and the job.   We see so many candidates who are unable to articulate why they are interested in our firm or demonstrate any awareness of what it is we do.  It's important to know about the firm, the nature of its practice and clients.  What are the areas of practice?  Why interest in those areas and what makes you a good fit?  Many employers do not expect students to have a clear vision of the practice area they will pursue for their entire career, but it's important that you demonstrate that you have thought about the job, what the work will be, and why you are interested in it and will enjoy it.
  2. Be prepared for any question.  Interviewers will run the gamut in the topics they will want to talk about in an interview.  The best interviewers will ask focused questions about particular experiences you've had that are relevant to the job.  They might ask about legal internships (legal experience), or a senior thesis (writing ability) or extracurricular activities (community service or leadership).  They might ask more general questions that will require you to draw on your experiences to answer, e.g., "Tell me about a challenging situation you've had leading a group and how you overcame it."  You should be prepared to talk about everything on your resume and the experiences, skills and knowledge relevant to the job.  Be prepared to tell the interviewers about times you have performed leadership roles, managed other people, faced and overcome challenges in your personal or professional lives, balanced a lot of plates in the air -- all of these are the kinds of skills that serve you well in a large law firm environment.
  3. Ask good questions.  Good questions are those that are important to you (i.e., you really want to know the answer) and that you could not answer for yourself with a bit of effort.  Don't ask questions about information that is on the employer's website.  Also, be sure to ask the right questions of the right people.  For example, if you want to know more about what you might do on a day-to-day basis in the job, ask the junior attorney on your schedule who probably does the same work or at least did it in recent memory.  Questions for the senior attorneys might be about the job's role relative to other roles and people in the broader organization.
  4. Be honest.  If you have a bad grade or a situation in your professional experience that you believe requires further explanation, be honest, upfront and positive about it.  You should be prepared to describe what happened, the reason for it and how you've moved on or improved.  People appreciate the honesty and often know if you are being evasive or telling a half-truth.
  5. Be yourself.  It's important that you allow your personality to shine through during an interview.  Of course you should be professional, but being professional does not mean you should be overly formal, stiff and flat.  Show your enthusiasm for the job.  It may be difficult when you're nervous, but try to treat the interview as a conversation rather than a deposition or an interrogation.  Interviewers are typically "people" people; they like meeting students and will be genuinely interested in learning more about you.  Finally, remember to keep your energy up even at the end of a long series of interviews.
  6. Don't be a jerk.  Perkins Coie has a no jerks hiring philosophy.  You may be first in your law school class, editor of the law review and the recipient of a perfect score on your LSAT—but if you are rude to interviewers, assistants or staff that you encounter during your call back interview, you will not be invited to return.  
  7. Look the part.  A professional appearance is important and contributes in large part to a positive (or negative) first impression. Appropriate dress will help you present yourself in the best way you can. If you have any questions about appropriate interview attire, ask your career services professionals for their candid opinion.
  8. Practice.  Do a mock interview.  And do one with someone who has experience interviewing a lot of people, like an advisor in your career services office or an attorney mentor who regularly interviews candidates.  And, when the mock interview is done, ask for candid and honest advice.  You can't fix something if no one will tell you it's not right -- and you don't want to be told it's not right after your interviews are over.
  9. Proofread your resume, thank you letters or emails before sending.  Candidates have been dinged for typos in thank you letters.  It shows carelessness and inattention to detail.  It would be better not to send a thank you at all.
  10. Review your social media footprint.  Google your name and search for yourself on the various social media outlets to see your social media image.  Make sure that your personal information -- including pictures, postings and other communications -- is not public and available for an employer to find, or any information that is public is appropriate for an employer to see.  You never know who may do a search for your name on the internet.  If there is any need for damage control, do it sooner rather than later.