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Author Topic: The "secret sauce" that firms are looking for at callback interviews  (Read 4966 times)

OldCraig

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Let's face it, grades, journals, top schools, legal experience, and other interesting professional experience will get your foot in the door for a screening interview/callback interview, but what do top firms look for during these interviews?  A warm personality? Enthusiasm?  Individuality?  Creativity?  Smooth Talking Ability?  Impressive knowledge of the firm's main practice areas?  Ease and comfort? What?

I've heard so many students ask these three questions: "So if I've got GREAT grades, a TOP School, a nice suit, and I'm pretty attractive in my nice suit giving my well-polished answers, WHY DIDNT I GET A SUMMER OFFER? If a person like me DIDNT get the OFFER, who in the hell did? How the hell did THAT GUY get MY OFFER?"

Theories:

MANY top firms DON'T like students with strong thoughts/opinions/convictions, this increases the likelihood that you will not bill at the rate you need to or that you will have qualms with certain types of work you will have to do at the firm.

If you come across as a leader rather than a follower, the firm may feel threatened, and the firm may doubt they can turn you into the machine they feel they need.

Firms don't broadcast what kind of "special sauce" they're looking for because obviously these qualities are kind of shady things to look for in new recruits.

If you don't strike your interviewers as an all out "company man", who will take it hard for the sake of the firm, you are not worth the risk - b/c more and more there are plenty of people without consciences to fill the role and not ask questions.

Top Firms want little "batteries" that they can use to get as much crap work done as possible - students who have hopes for training/pro bono threaten the firm's bottom line.

If you want to change the world, firms would rather you go work in politics/public interest

Visual Dictionary

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Re: The "secret sauce" that firms are looking for at callback interviews
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2008, 10:58:25 AM »
That's good for me, because I'm a spineless "yes" man with a prestige complex. 
Yep.

kipford

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Re: The "secret sauce" that firms are looking for at callback interviews
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2008, 11:43:39 AM »
Ummm, isn't that why they pay so well?  They want a service and we can provide it?  Unless you buy into the logic of that kid that wrote the HLR note recently (that all biglaw lawyers are, in effect, killing children by not going into public interest law) what is the problem with this?  For those of us going into corporate law, aren't we fully aware that we are bargaining away certain things for the compensation?  Is it different from any other job?  I mean if you work in a factory you can't decide that you don't want to make this part anymore and just stop (well, you can't do that and keep your job).

So, yeah, I made sure that I was aware that there were long hours and that I was willing to make that trade-off during the interview process.  Which I am.  I still didn't do great during OCI but I got a decent number of callbacks and I'm 1 for 1 in getting offers from them so far.

I hope this doesn't come off as harsh as I don't mean it to be.  Maybe my perspective is different since I'm a bit older, had a job for 7 years before law school, etc.  If you have a family and a ton of (accumulating) law school debt, those trade-offs don't seem unreasonable...

OldCraig

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Re: The "secret sauce" that firms are looking for at callback interviews
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2008, 11:57:31 AM »
Attn: Kipford

You're missing the point - the actual callback itself, is about an attempt for the lawyers to derive how malleable you are. How amorphous. They want someone book smart who doesn't intellectualize.

From this, we gain a new understanding of the mystique surrounding the process - "we won't tell you what we want, because it doesn't sound good" -- It's NOT just about long hours, it's NOT just about hard work -- it's about something quite more sinister... at least at the V10 firms. Other firms try to value the individual more, or at least they say they do. Perhaps this is a disinformation tactic though.  If you show too much of a brain, a think for yourself attitude, they don't see the cost of a callback as too much of an expense since you might be back one day when you've got a client base. Then you're free to think however the hell you want.

kipford

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Re: The "secret sauce" that firms are looking for at callback interviews
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2008, 01:12:12 PM »
O.K.  Fair enough...

intel

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Re: The "secret sauce" that firms are looking for at callback interviews
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2008, 03:01:43 PM »
your observations are almost perfectly in sync with my experience during this OCI. although i'd say firms are making cuts based on the criteria you listed at the screening stage, too.

i go to a top 25, have law review etc. but i'm pretty extroverted compared to most law students and, not to toot my own horn, i've been told i come across as a "leader" - whatever that means. i've noticed that these traits (extroversion and leadership) are NOT what most large firms are looking for. and before everyone assumes i am just trying to rationalize my own lack of success, i'll note that i have actually secured 4 offers (one V10, two V20s, and a V40). the difference between firms who made me offers and those who didn't even give me a callback was palpable: the former seemed to be full of lawyers with "personality," and the latter seemed to have had the life sucked out of them by something (at least that is how it appeared from the POV of someone like me...it's all relative i think). i also noticed during OCI that the people with lesser credentials who were getting callbacks and offers from the firms i was rejected by shared the same lack of enthusiasm and workerbee-like tendencies.

in short, my advice to someone who is just really trying to get as many callbacks/offers as possible (and there is nothing wrong with that) is to read your interviewer and act like them. if they are happy go lucky, step up the pep. if they are the stereotypical biglaw lawyer, temper your enthusiasm unless the topic of conversation is about the clients/work.

Refused Party Program

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Re: The "secret sauce" that firms are looking for at callback interviews
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2008, 05:30:31 PM »
I guess the question here is this: if you are a natural leader, and an extrovert, do you really want to work for a firm that doesn't appreciate those qualities? I think there are good firms out there that like personality and there are "good" firms out there that want no personality because they want you to be a billing machine and not a person. Frankly, I'd like to be a person.

At first, I was really surprised how much I liked all the firms from which I got callbacks. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. The reason they called me back is because they saw I would be a good fit and they were looking for people like me, and I was looking for a firm like them. I will also say I went on ALOT of screening interviews and did not get as many callbacks, percentage wise, as some my classmates. However, I would rather be somewhere that appreciates me than some where that is a Vault 10 firm.

I wouldn't take it so hard. They probably think you wouldn't be a good fit, and they are probably doing you a favor.

Then again, I guess crap job is better than no job?

Drew P. Bottom

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Re: The "secret sauce" that firms are looking for at callback interviews
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2008, 11:36:34 PM »
I guess the question here is this: if you are a natural leader, and an extrovert, do you really want to work for a firm that doesn't appreciate those qualities? I think there are good firms out there that like personality and there are "good" firms out there that want no personality because they want you to be a billing machine and not a person. Frankly, I'd like to be a person.

At first, I was really surprised how much I liked all the firms from which I got callbacks. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. The reason they called me back is because they saw I would be a good fit and they were looking for people like me, and I was looking for a firm like them. I will also say I went on ALOT of screening interviews and did not get as many callbacks, percentage wise, as some my classmates. However, I would rather be somewhere that appreciates me than some where that is a Vault 10 firm.

I wouldn't take it so hard. They probably think you wouldn't be a good fit, and they are probably doing you a favor.

Then again, I guess crap job is better than no job?

Solid Post. Agree with most things you said.
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nealric

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Re: The "secret sauce" that firms are looking for at callback interviews
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2008, 08:44:27 AM »
It's Arby's sauce.

Just hand them a few packets at the interview and you are golden.
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Patently No

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Re: The "secret sauce" that firms are looking for at callback interviews
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2008, 07:35:23 PM »
Jerk off in the hiring partner's sandwich while he's looking at your resume. This could be tricky as time is of the essence, so just be thinking of that recruiting chick until you get to his office.