Effective Listening During Callback Interviews

Last week Listen Like a Lawyer explored the process of effective listening during a job interview from preparation to thank-you note. Callbacks present some special listening opportunities and challenges. Here are some key points to keep in mind about effective listening during the callback process, courtesy of the Assistant Dean for Career Development at the University of Colorado Law School, Todd Rogers.

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  • Understand that the callback interview begins the moment the interview invitation is extended. If the invitation comes by phone be prepared to listen carefully to the options for interview date and time, and respond as quickly as you can—preferably on the spot. Also, be sure to ask all the relevant logistical questions, such as whom to ask for once you arrive at the office, and the identities of all the attorneys with whom you’ll meet.
  • If your invitation comes by email, consider calling to confirm your interest and to schedule a date and time. This simple gesture demonstrates your enthusiasm and gives you another opportunity to listen and learn potentially useful information.
  • When you arrive on site, realize that everyone you meet should be considered part of the interview process. Afford the same respect, and listening attention, to attorneys and support staff alike.
  • As a way to settle your nerves once the formal interviews begin, remember that you’ve already impressed the firm enough to make the initial cut. By relaxing, you will promote a “less interrogation, more conversation” atmosphere. The attorneys with whom you meet are more likely to form a favorable impression of candidates who project confidence and express genuine interest in their work.
  • A big part of projecting genuine interest is to ask good questions. Examples include questions that focus on the summer program and the attorneys’ experiences at the firm; avoid those involving money, hours worked, and distant events such as partnership decisions. Listen intently to the answers and ask meaningful follow-up questions.
  • You’ll also have an opportunity to demonstrate that you listened carefully during the initial interview. You can refer to tidbits of information you learned in the initial interview and asked follow-up questions, such as, “When I interviewed on campus, we spent a few minutes discussing the firm’s summer program.  Can you tell me more about how work is assigned to summer associates?”
  • As you listen to the answers, take mental notes. You’ll tap into this reserve later, as you write thank-you notes that incorporate details of the interviews, and as you weigh the pros of cons of employment offers.

Many thanks to Assistant Dean Rogers for sharing these thoughts. And good luck to all the law students handling interviews at every stage.

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