What is the on-campus interview (OCI) process?This is the name we use for a process by which students can obtain summer and post-graduate employment. The process includes a 20-minute screening interview on campus followed by a callback at the employer's office.
A number of legal employers conduct screening interviews on campus throughout the Fall semester, beginning in mid-August before classes start. The employers are primarily hiring 2L students for the following summer, but some employers also recruit 3Ls for permanent positions to start after graduation.
Students apply via LawDawgDash, and the employers are allowed to select the students they want to interview. Each employer then coordinates with CDO to establish a schedule, and representatives come to campus to conduct the screening interviews. Following the screening interviews, each employer will notify a student directly if the student is further selected for a callback at the employer's office. Callbacks are typically half a day (sometimes longer for 3L candidates), consisting of a series of 30-minute interviews with individual lawyers at the employer, followed by lunch. Some employers also invite the student for dinner the evening before or after the callback.
Following the callback, the employer will notify the student directly as to whether an offer of employment is extended.
What is the timing of this process?This can vary a fair amount based on size of the employer and other factors, like availability of certain decision makers within the employer. The larger employers typically begin notifying candidates selected for callbacks within a few days after the screening interview. However, they may also table some candidates for consideration later and, thus, extend callbacks on a rolling basis for several weeks after the screening interview. Smaller employers may take longer, because they may wait until after most or all of their screening interviews are completed before selecting the candidates who will be invited to proceed. The same general guidelines also apply after the callback.
Will I be notified about my status at each step of the process?If you are selected for a screening interview, you will receive an email notice asking you to sign up for a specific time slot. You will not receive a notice if you are not selected. Some employers select alternates, who will be notified by email if and when a time slot opens.
If you are selected for a callback, the employer will notify you directly, typically by phone. If you are not selected, most employers will send a letter.
The same is true for the extension of an offer. Most employers give you good news by phone and bad news by letter.
What are employers looking for in the screening and callback interviews?These interviews should more appropriately be called conversations. And the interviews throughout your callback day are for the same purpose as the screening interview. The employers are looking to see if you have good interpersonal skills. They are looking for maturity, confidence, enthusiasm, and ability to engage in a pleasant conversation. They may ask you questions about your legal skills and academic record, but they already know from your resume and transcript how accomplished you are. This is not an oral exam or a test of any kind. It is simply a conversation to allow the interviewer to assess whether you would be comfortable meeting with clients, whether you would present a good image for the employer, and whether they would enjoy having you as a colleague. Sometimes an employer, particularly an employer in the public interest sector, may also be trying to gauge your level of passion for their cause or particular type of work.
What kinds of questions should I expect?There are generally two types of questions:. informational and behavioral.
Informational questions will ask about your resume, your background, your interest in the particular employer, and your interest in a particular practice area.
- Tell me about your work for the public defender's office last summer. What kinds of projects did you work on?
- I see you're on Law Review. What is your note topic?
- I see you made it to the round of 16 in the Russell Competition. What was the problem about last year?
- Why do you want to be in Augusta?
- What interests you about our firm?
- What practice areas are you interested in pursuing?
- Your cover letter said you want to do transactional work. Why?
Your hobbies and interests are popular topics for informational questions. Interviewers like to ask about these because they want to put you more at ease (speaking about something you like to do), and these items can be some of the more interesting and unique aspects of your resume. For example:
- So you bicycled through North Africa. Was that an organized trip or something you did on your own?
- I see you collect antique guitars. So do I. What's your most prized guitar?
Behavioral questions are designed to get you to talk about your personality and characteristics. Examples of these include:
- Name three adjectives that your friends would use to describe you.
- What does success mean to you?
- Tell me about a time when you had to advocate for a position you didn't believe in.
- Tell me about a time in your life when you demonstrated leadership skills and feel like you made a significant impact.
- What is the most valuable feedback you've ever received?
What questions should I ask?
Virtually every interviewer will at some point ask you what questions you have about the employer. Be prepared with meaningful questions that show you've done your research. Also, think about what is truly relevant to you in making a decision about which employer to choose. Those questions will be most impressive to the interviewer, because they'll show your maturity and thoughtfulness.
Examples of questions you might ask:
- I'm sure you had many offers when you were in my position. What about this firm was the deciding factor for you in choosing to go there?
- What are the important aspects about this firm that cause you to stay there?
- With all the successful lawyers at this firm, do you think there is still a place for a new lawyer like me to come and make a career for myself?
- I know that I have a lot to learn on the job. How do you feel about the quality of the feedback that your associates receive?
- Tell me about the finm's mentoring programs.
- Can you tell me a little about the finm's training programs for new associates?
- You're in a practice area that is my number one choice. Can you tell me a little about the typical projects you work on?
Avoid topics that are either too insignificant to ever be part of your decision making process or, even if relevant in making your decision, can be misinterpreted at this early stage of the process. If you ask such questions at all, they should be saved for after you receive an offer. Examples of questions NOT to ask include:
- How much vacation time will I get in the first year?
- How do you compensate partners?
- How long before I can be considered for partnership?
- Will I have my own secretary?
- Will I have to share an office?
- Will the firm reimburse me for my cell phone?
- Do associates always get year-end bonuses?
What should I expect with respect to the callback day lunch?The conversation over lunch will be much the same as in your individual interviews. It may be a little less formal, and there will likely be two or more lawyers accompanying you. Many firms use the lunch session as a time for you to meet with junior attorneys without senior partners attending. You should continue to treat this time just the same as you treated the individual interviews. Maintain your pleasant demeanor and good conversational skills. The topics of conversation may become less about the firm and more about sports, movies, etc. Also, the lawyers may say something like "the interviews are over and we're just going to talk." But remember that these lawyers will be completing evaluations of you at the end of the day, just like all the other lawyers you meet.
With respect to eating lunch, you need to exercise good judgment in what you order. Even if the lawyers order alcohol, you may want to refrain.
What should I expect with respect to dinner, if my callback includes that event?Similar to lunch, this is part of the overall interview process, and the lawyers who attend will complete evaluations of you. Also similar to lunch, the conversation at dinner may be less formal than individual interviews. You want to appear comfortable and at ease in a social setting, but don't forget to be on your best behavior. Typically, senior lawyers will attend the dinner, and it will be at an upscale restaurant. Wear business attire (i.e., the same thing you would wear to an interview), unless you are specifically instructed otherwise. If you are told to come casual or business casual, opt for business casual.
Just as with lunch, be very careful about your alcohol consumption. The lawyers may take advantage of the chance to enjoy fine wine at the firm's expense. If you drink, be sure to exercise restraint and remain in complete control of your conversation and behavior, even if the lawyers don't.
Is it acceptable to disclose the other employers I'm interviewing with?As a general rule, you should not offer that information without being asked because it may make you appear arrogant. But if you are asked, then it is fine to disclose the names of the other employers. Interviewers expect that you will be talking to more than just them. There is no need to try and keep that information confidential. Also, if you are invited for a callback, and you are doing another law firm callback in the same city on an adjacent day, you should make sure both employers know that. The firms may coordinate and split the costs.
What is the protocol when I receive an offer?No matter what your position on this employer might be, first thank them for the offer and tell them how pleased you are.
If you know this is the offer you want, then accept it on the spot. Employers appreciate that level of enthusiasm. There is no benefit in playing hard to get.
If you need time to consider the offer, then ask the employer for their timeframe. Larger employers may follow NALP guidelines that suggest the offer remain open for 30 days, but that may not always be applicable. Smaller employers will often have shorter timeframes, because they are managing a smaller number of offers. Never assume the offer will be open for any specific length of time-always ask.
After you receive an offer, you may start to receive enthusiastic calls, emails and texts from lawyers and others you met at the employer. You should respond to each one. The appropriate manner and content of such responses is a judgment call you will have to make, based on all the circumstances. But remember to be gracious, courteous and responsive, even if you're doubtful you will accept this offer.
Are there tips for handling rejections by employers?Understand that almost everyone will receive some rejections in today's competitive job market. If that happens to you, take it in stride as part of the process. Be gracious to the employer, thank them for their consideration, and express your interest in being considered if their hiring needs were to change. Never burn a bridge. You never know when another opportunity might come up with that employer, even several years in the future.
If I am scheduled for a screening interview or callback, but I already know that I will not accept an offer from that employer, should I go ahead with the interview anyway because I have committed?Absolutely not. Employers participating in the Fall OCI process know that you are likely interviewing with multiple employers. It is common for candidates to cancel upcoming interviews, as the semester progresses and they begin to receive and accept offers. It is far worse to do the interview out of a sense of commitment, because you're not being honest and because that interview slot can be used for another candidate which benefits both the employer and your fellow students.
If you need to cancel an interview, however, make sure you do so in advance, with as much notice as possible. And remember to do so graciously, with gratitude for the opportunity, so you don't burn the bridge.
What is the proper way to notify a firm that I am accepting their offer? What about if I need to decline their offer?In either case, it is best to have this communication by phone. If you are accepting an offer, you want to express your enthusiasm. If you are rejecting an offer, it should not be an awkward conversation. Employers receive rejections from a number of candidates throughout the process. Just remember to be gracious, tell them what a hard decision this was for you, and thank them for all the time they invested in considering you.
Do I need to send thank you notes after every interview?There is typically no need to send thank you notes after a screening interview. For most of the larger employers that participate in the Fall OCI process, you don't need to send thank you notes after the callbacks either. For more detail on this, see the CDO website at /thank-you-notes.
Are there general guidelines for communicating with employers?Always respond as promptly as possible to all employer communications. If at all possible, take the call when it comes or at least return the call the same day. If you receive an email or text from an employer, it is polite to respond. You may not need to say much, but the sender will appreciate knowing that you received the message. For example, you might receive a text that says "Congrats on the offer! Hope you'll accept." Your response could be as simple as "Thank you. I'm very excited."
Regardless of the form of communication, make certain that your message does not contain any typos. This includes punctuation and grammar mistakes, as well as misspelled or misplaced words. Also, keep your communications professional and mature. Avoid emoticons and shorthand. For example, write out "Thank you. I'm very excited." DO NOT write "Tks ☺."
Above all else, always be honest in your communications. Integrity is a lawyer's most important asset.