Low Grades and a Callback

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Low Grades and a Callback

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:07 am

I have low grades. The biggest pitfall to my whole interview is the fact that I have low grades. I interview very well, have great work experience, and am coming from a top school.

That being said, after I get a callback, how much do much do grades matter? Is a callback merely a "fit with the firm" kind of thing, or are they still considering grades when making decisions on whether or not to extend an offer?

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:12 am

Anonymous User wrote:I have low grades. The biggest pitfall to my whole interview is the fact that I have low grades. I interview very well, have great work experience, and am coming from a top school.

That being said, after I get a callback, how much do much do grades matter? Is a callback merely a "fit with the firm" kind of thing, or are they still considering grades when making decisions on whether or not to extend an offer?


If you made it past a screener to the callback, I don't think your grades are gonna hurt you terribly. That said, I had a firm with particularly high cutoffs wine me and dine me and then a week or so after the callback, the hiring partner called and told me they couldn't offer me a job this summer, but if I improve my grades I've got a spot next summer.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby 270910 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:12 am

At most firms, your CB will be with 3-6 attorneys who will fill out evaluations on your interviews. They'll look for things like demeanor, enthusiasm, "fit", interest in firm, interest in location, interest in practice area(s), etc. They'll submit that, along with an often very blunt "hire or not" assessment to the recruiting committee.

At some later date (sometimes a day, sometimes weeks - there's no way to predict it in advance), the recruiting committee will meet. It's possible that several members of the committee interviewed you during your callback, it's possible that none of them did, it's possible that it was just one.

The committee will look at your file, which will include your resume, transcript, comments from all of your interviewers, etc. They will likely also have a sense for how many other people they interviewed from your school and how those people did (as well as how many offers have been extended). They will also have a sense for what time of the recruiting season it is, how many more offers are "available" to be extended to reach their target class size, etc. They will make a decision on whether to reject you, offer you a summer position, or put the decision off until they have more information. If the decision was either of those first two, you will hear within a day or two by phone (usually for an acceptance) or several days by mail (for a rejection).

That's a very long winded way of saying that grades will definitely still matter, but it's hard to quantify precisely how much. Obviously the decision to call you back weighs in your favor. You probably really impressed your screening interviewer - either with your pre-LS credentials, demeanor, particular interests, maturity, oddly stoic stare, who knows. If everyone agrees and there's room you could get the offer. If one guy on the recruiting committee is a stickler for grades you could be sunk before you check in with reception.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby bizen boat » Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:19 am

From the data I've seen, which is old and only for a specific school, most firms have similar callback to offer ratios for high grades and low grades. Some firms have more favorable ratios for high grades, and some have markedly better ratios for the low grades!

What's the lesson here? There is none, because the sample sizes were so small and the data is from 2002.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:37 am

a little off topic but given that hiring committees think about how many offers they give per school is it possible if you are last to interview there just isn't a spot for you???

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby 270910 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:42 am

Anonymous User wrote:a little off topic but given that hiring committees think about how many offers they give per school is it possible if you are last to interview there just isn't a spot for you???


Yes.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 31, 2010 3:56 pm

bizen boat wrote:From the data I've seen, which is old and only for a specific school, most firms have similar callback to offer ratios for high grades and low grades. Some firms have more favorable ratios for high grades, and some have markedly better ratios for the low grades!

What's the lesson here? There is none, because the sample sizes were so small and the data is from 2002.


I don't think 02 numbers are terribly helpful, even though there was a recession back then as well. For UChicago at least, the data suggests that even when someone with low grades manages to get a callback, their odds of getting the offer are very low. It makes logical sense - they have called back some highly qualified candidates who they already think would be a good fit, and when they're evaluating who to hire, grades are an easy way to make the tough call.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby dresden doll » Tue Aug 31, 2010 4:13 pm

disco_barred wrote:If one guy on the recruiting committee is a stickler for grades you could be sunk before you check in with reception.


It seems wasteful to call people back in - particularly if they're being flown out from across the country - if someone on the hiring committee is a stickler for grades. Why not screen the candidate out to begin with instead of wasting resources?

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby Zugzwang » Tue Aug 31, 2010 4:15 pm

dresden doll wrote:
disco_barred wrote:If one guy on the recruiting committee is a stickler for grades you could be sunk before you check in with reception.


It seems wasteful to call people back in - particularly if they're being flown out from across the country - if someone on the hiring committee is a stickler for grades. Why not screen the candidate out to begin with instead of wasting resources?

Since when did firms operate in a logical manner?

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby rynabrius » Tue Aug 31, 2010 4:24 pm

I think it is logical. Employers look at two things: grades, and everything else. There is a certain level of (grades + everything else) that gets you a callback. There is another level of (grades + everything else) that gets you an offer. The threshold varies depending on the rate of acceptances they receive. Just because you hit one threshold doesn't mean you'll hit the other.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 31, 2010 4:26 pm

rynabrius wrote:I think it is logical. Employers look at two things: grades, and everything else. There is a certain level of (grades + everything else) that gets you a callback. There is another level of (grades + everything else) that gets you an offer. Just because you hit one threshold doesn't mean you'll hit the other.


Less likely ITE.

If you get a callback, you have a legit shot at an offer.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby rynabrius » Tue Aug 31, 2010 4:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
rynabrius wrote:I think it is logical. Employers look at two things: grades, and everything else. There is a certain level of (grades + everything else) that gets you a callback. There is another level of (grades + everything else) that gets you an offer. Just because you hit one threshold doesn't mean you'll hit the other.


Less likely ITE.

If you get a callback, you have a legit shot at an offer.


True, legit, but not "2 legit 2 quit."

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby rayiner » Tue Aug 31, 2010 4:27 pm

rynabrius wrote:I think it is logical. Employers look at two things: grades, and everything else. There is a certain level of (grades + everything else) that gets you a callback. There is another level of (grades + everything else) that gets you an offer. Just because you hit one threshold doesn't mean you'll hit the other.


Right.

Basically, if you've got a low GPA and a great personality/something else, they've decided that they're not going to ding you off the bat because of your GPA. That doesn't mean you're on equal footing with everyone with higher GPAs. They're basically giving you the chance to "wow" them. If you don't really stand out in the callback interviews, they have no reason to take you over the other people who have better GPAs.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 31, 2010 4:32 pm

rayiner wrote:
rynabrius wrote:I think it is logical. Employers look at two things: grades, and everything else. There is a certain level of (grades + everything else) that gets you a callback. There is another level of (grades + everything else) that gets you an offer. Just because you hit one threshold doesn't mean you'll hit the other.


Right.

Basically, if you've got a low GPA and a great personality/something else, they've decided that they're not going to ding you off the bat because of your GPA. That doesn't mean you're on equal footing with everyone with higher GPAs. They're basically giving you the chance to "wow" them. If you don't really stand out in the callback interviews, they have no reason to take you over the other people who have better GPAs.


I want to chime in on this based on a long conversation I had with a hiring partner I bonded with at my firm. What he said is that while grades are a horrible system, they're also basically the worst system except for any other system. Screening interviews, even ad nauseum at a callback, are piss-poor indicators of a candidates future as an attorney at the firm. He openly admitted to not being able to judge nearly anything from the 20 minute conversation - and so at the end of the day, grades are something that remain and are, to an extent, objective. Some candidates have to get offers and some have to not get offers, and there just isn't a hell of a lot else that can be gleaned beyond some obvious cases of deficiencies or imperfectly aligned personality types.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby dresden doll » Tue Aug 31, 2010 4:32 pm

rayiner wrote:
rynabrius wrote:I think it is logical. Employers look at two things: grades, and everything else. There is a certain level of (grades + everything else) that gets you a callback. There is another level of (grades + everything else) that gets you an offer. Just because you hit one threshold doesn't mean you'll hit the other.


Right.

Basically, if you've got a low GPA and a great personality/something else, they've decided that they're not going to ding you off the bat because of your GPA. That doesn't mean you're on equal footing with everyone with higher GPAs. They're basically giving you the chance to "wow" them. If you don't really stand out in the callback interviews, they have no reason to take you over the other people who have better GPAs.


While that makes perfect sense, it doesn't exactly jibe with or explain discobarred's comment that I quoted. Having a chance to wow hiring committee isn't the functional equivalent of being dead from the moment you check in with the reception desk.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby rayiner » Tue Aug 31, 2010 4:45 pm

dresden doll wrote:
rayiner wrote:
rynabrius wrote:I think it is logical. Employers look at two things: grades, and everything else. There is a certain level of (grades + everything else) that gets you a callback. There is another level of (grades + everything else) that gets you an offer. Just because you hit one threshold doesn't mean you'll hit the other.


Right.

Basically, if you've got a low GPA and a great personality/something else, they've decided that they're not going to ding you off the bat because of your GPA. That doesn't mean you're on equal footing with everyone with higher GPAs. They're basically giving you the chance to "wow" them. If you don't really stand out in the callback interviews, they have no reason to take you over the other people who have better GPAs.


While that makes perfect sense, it doesn't exactly jibe with or explain discobarred's comment that I quoted. Having a chance to wow hiring committee isn't the functional equivalent of being dead from the moment you check in with the reception desk.


I don't think anyone is dead from the moment they check in with the reception desk. It might be the case that firms have raised their screener cut-offs during the recession, to control their class sizes, but it would be odd to find someone on the hiring committee who would overlook stellar feedback from interviewers at the callback stage over a GPA he would have happily taken just a couple of years ago.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:03 pm

I know a girl with top 5 (people not percent) grades. She got a rejection letter postmarked the same day as her afternoon callback. Moral of the story: some people are dead the minute they open their mouth...you always have a shot if you can make it to the callback so don't stress it.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby dresden doll » Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:19 pm

rayiner wrote:
I don't think anyone is dead from the moment they check in with the reception desk.


Right, and I don't either which is why I wondered at disco's comment. It seems odd that the firm would give CB to a candidate that stood zero chance of passing muster with a grade-focused hiring committee member.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby 270910 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:23 pm

dresden doll wrote:
rayiner wrote:
I don't think anyone is dead from the moment they check in with the reception desk.


Right, and I don't either which is why I wondered at disco's comment. It seems odd that the firm would give CB to a candidate that stood zero chance of passing muster with a grade-focused hiring committee member.


Timing is a prime reason. A candidate may receive a callback on a day when the committee could envision extending the candidate an offer only to have other students from the pool impress, accept, obtain offers, etc. prior to the committee meeting that there just isn't a chance for the candidate who got a borderline CB. It's also possible that different members of the committee made the decisions to callback than they did to hire (I have reason to believe it's fairly rare for the full committee to make every decision, given how busy and mobile big firm partners and attorneys are).

Of course a callback is basically never going to be extended with no intention of hiring the candidate, but there are, have been, and will forever undoubtedly be scenarios where fate prohibits a candidate from receiving a job no matter what they do on that CB.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby seespotrun » Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:27 pm

ITT: Random and unreliable speculation.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:35 pm

disco_barred wrote:
dresden doll wrote:
rayiner wrote:
I don't think anyone is dead from the moment they check in with the reception desk.


Right, and I don't either which is why I wondered at disco's comment. It seems odd that the firm would give CB to a candidate that stood zero chance of passing muster with a grade-focused hiring committee member.


Timing is a prime reason. A candidate may receive a callback on a day when the committee could envision extending the candidate an offer only to have other students from the pool impress, accept, obtain offers, etc. prior to the committee meeting that there just isn't a chance for the candidate who got a borderline CB. It's also possible that different members of the committee made the decisions to callback than they did to hire (I have reason to believe it's fairly rare for the full committee to make every decision, given how busy and mobile big firm partners and attorneys are).

Of course a callback is basically never going to be extended with no intention of hiring the candidate, but there are, have been, and will forever undoubtedly be scenarios where fate prohibits a candidate from receiving a job no matter what they do on that CB.


Which is all to say it's firm dependent.

I was one of four callbacks for a particular firm that typically "requires" top 10% or so and law review. There were two for the office which I was interested in (me and one other person), and 1 for each of their other two offices. The other callback for my office was neither top 10% nor law review. I am neither top 10% nor law review (probably top 1/3rd).

Unofficial callbacks were given on the spot (dinner invites, and then "we look forward to bringing you to our office to meet more of our attorneys.")

I highly doubt that the only two students from my school they'd CB -- which is one of maybe 4 schools at which they do EIP -- are going to be DOA because of their grades.

So, as seespotrun said, this is all random and unreliable speculation. It depends on the firm, it probably depends on the # of other callbacks, it depends on the structure, the size of the summer class, etc.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby Aqualibrium » Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:44 pm

I think the general point is to never go in like you have no shot at all. The firm brought you there for a reason. All the talk in any thread on this forum about callback ratios etc... is nothing but speculation, and can't really be all that helpful.

The answer to OP's question is: no one can tell you precisely how much grades matter. What we can all tell you is that when you get a callback, you are there for a reason.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 31, 2010 5:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
disco_barred wrote:
dresden doll wrote:
rayiner wrote:
I don't think anyone is dead from the moment they check in with the reception desk.


Right, and I don't either which is why I wondered at disco's comment. It seems odd that the firm would give CB to a candidate that stood zero chance of passing muster with a grade-focused hiring committee member.


Timing is a prime reason. A candidate may receive a callback on a day when the committee could envision extending the candidate an offer only to have other students from the pool impress, accept, obtain offers, etc. prior to the committee meeting that there just isn't a chance for the candidate who got a borderline CB. It's also possible that different members of the committee made the decisions to callback than they did to hire (I have reason to believe it's fairly rare for the full committee to make every decision, given how busy and mobile big firm partners and attorneys are).

Of course a callback is basically never going to be extended with no intention of hiring the candidate, but there are, have been, and will forever undoubtedly be scenarios where fate prohibits a candidate from receiving a job no matter what they do on that CB.


Which is all to say it's firm dependent.

I was one of four callbacks for a particular firm that typically "requires" top 10% or so and law review. There were two for the office which I was interested in (me and one other person), and 1 for each of their other two offices. The other callback for my office was neither top 10% nor law review. I am neither top 10% nor law review (probably top 1/3rd).

Unofficial callbacks were given on the spot (dinner invites, and then "we look forward to bringing you to our office to meet more of our attorneys.")

I highly doubt that the only two students from my school they'd CB -- which is one of maybe 4 schools at which they do EIP -- are going to be DOA because of their grades.

So, as seespotrun said, this is all random and unreliable speculation. It depends on the firm, it probably depends on the # of other callbacks, it depends on the structure, the size of the summer class, etc.


Clearly Susman.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby rynabrius » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:26 pm

rynabrius wrote:I think it is logical. Employers look at two things: grades, and everything else. There is a certain level of (grades + everything else) that gets you a callback. There is another level of (grades + everything else) that gets you an offer. The threshold varies depending on the rate of acceptances they receive. Just because you hit one threshold doesn't mean you'll hit the other.


Let me elaborate on this. Firms probably have a 'reservation price' reflecting the least qualified candidate (as measured by (grades+everything else)) to whom they would extend an offer. This reservation price demarcates the first threshold, the callback threshold. However, firms would like to get the most qualified candidates they can, in terms of (grades + everything else). Thus, while their reservation price (callback threshold) is set at the time callbacks are doled out, as they make offers and get acceptances their second threshold, the offer threshold, changes.

There, clear as mud, right?

In short, you're unlikely to be out of luck when you walk in the door, but it could happen if enough more-qualified candidates have accepted offers on the spot prior to your callback.

As a practical matter, though, all you can do is sell yourself as hard as you can.

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Re: Low Grades and a Callback

Postby bilbobaggins » Tue Aug 31, 2010 6:30 pm

The best system would be what consulting companies have been doing for years - give actual critical thinking questions and legal work during interviews. Measure applicants based on the sort of thing they'd actually be doing, rather than their ability to write a good essay in Torts.




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