How to get a call back for an interview

By Hillary Mantis

How do you turn a quick twenty minute first interview into a callback? During August, many law schools will start running their fall on campus interview programs. If you are planning on doing fall interviews, whether on campus, or on your own, you will probably have about twenty minutes to convince the employer to call you back for a second interview.  But, no pressure.

Here are some suggestions to make the best of your twenty minutes:

1. Make a List of Your Accomplishments Before the Interview:

Right now, while your summer job is still fresh in your mind, make a list of everything that went well this summer. What did you work on? What did you accomplish? If you make the list now, and refer to it the night before an interview, you will be ready to quickly give the interviewer some recent examples of your work. If there is something in particular you want them to know, and they don’t ask you about it, find a way to work it into the conversation.

2. Have Detailed Reasons for Why You Are a Good Fit

I have said this before, but it’s worth repeating — legal recruiters often tell me that they want to hire someone who is a good fit for their particular firm. If you research the employer extensively, hopefully you will find some substantive reasons as to how your background fits their practice. If the firm really is your first choice, by all means, let them know.

3. Stand Out From the Crowd

Having had lunch with on campus recruiters for many years, I have grown to realize that it’s a very long day for them. Sometimes they are seeing people back to back all day, with very little down time. If you find something in common with the interviewer, (e.g. you went to the same law school or undergrad), and you get a chance to chat with them about it for a few minutes, that may help you stand out. While you want to focus most of your time on work accomplishments, informal conversation can also help them remember you, and leave a positive impression.

4. Get Your References Lined up Now

It’s good to be prepared in case you are asked for references. Get trhee references lined up while you still have time and before you get swamped with classes. You can use previous employers, professors, externship supervisors, etc. Recent references are obviously preferable over someone who supervised you years ago.

Reach out to anyone you would like to use as a reference now, update them as to what you have been doing, what you are looking for, and ask them if you can provide their contact information to potential employers. If there is anything in particular you would like them to emphasize if they are contacted, discuss it with them. That way, when you have a first interview that does turn into a callback, you will have a list of references ready to go.


Hillary Mantis is a Legal Career Consultant and Pre-Law Advisor, and author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers. You can write to Hillary at