Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

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Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:25 pm

I went on my first CB early in the season and have 8 so far scheduled in the next three weeks. I just got dinged by phone from my first CB.

I was called by the attorney whom my screener was with. He said he was unable to attend the hiring committee's meeting yesterday, but he had heard some things that he wanted to pass along as helpful feedback. Our conversation was brief, but essentially what he said was that I was "solid" but not "exceptional" and that I didn't stand out enough among the applicants. Good student, good person, but not enough, he said.

I can understand the failing to stand out. I know my resume is pretty vanilla, and I've basically been counting on solid grades and personality/interview skills to get me a job. I'm a little surprised because of the 5 interviews I did on the CB, the best two by far were with the hiring partner and the managing partner in charge of the office. I could see my other three interviewers going to the meeting and saying I was "meh" (though the vibe was pleasant and the conversation easy with all of them) but I really thought I hit my stride in the afternoon and hit it off with the two most influential people. Also, my dinner with two young associates was a lot of fun. We had sushi and it was more like three dudes hanging out for a while than an interview.

I'm posting this to solicit advice from people who have been successful on callbacks. My understanding was that grades and substantive experience matter less at the CB stage than the screener stage, and they are mostly going based on feel and looking for a good fit. Based on that criteria, I was really expecting a better outcome from this CB. In all of my interviews, 30 minutes passed quickly and there was no awkwardness. Everyone responded well to the questions I asked. With the managing partner, I met for 50 minutes and by the end of it we were bantering about sports and she was dropping casual f-bombs. The hiring partner wasn't even on my official schedule of interviews; he pulled me out between my last interview and my dinner and spent 20 minutes asking what I'm looking for in a firm and on what criteria I will base my final decision. He seemed to like my answers and go into full "sell" mode.

Is my approach too low-key? Should I not go into future CBs expecting pleasant conversation and good personality fit to be enough? Should I try harder to sell myself, i.e. by talking about substantive things on my resume and the skills I've developed and how I will contribute to the firm? I have material like that available to talk about, but unless my interviewer is grilling me for it, I thought the best approach would be to follow the natural flow of conversation.

Advice advice appreciated. Thanks.

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:31 pm

Disclaimer: I do not have any offers yet. However, I am offering some thoughts based on where I got callbacks and where I got dinged.

In the cb, you are still on an interview. None of these people have met you before, and they don't know what your skills and qualifications are, unless you tell them. I've heard it said before that the cb stage is basically like a compilation of screener interviews; you still have to sell yourself in the short 30 minutes that you have with each person. Thus, while fit is important, you also have to stand out in your ability to do the work.

Think of it from the perspective of the interviewer: sure, this candidate may have an exceptional resume and good grades, but if your entire conversation with him/her consists of sports or the stock market, that doesn't really say anything about the person's abilities. Compare to a candidate with the same resume and good grades, who fits in well, but also makes it clear that he/she is there to work and has the capacity to do so. Which person do you think will get the offer?

However, I'm not sure how to incorporate your strengths into a convo where the interviewer only seems to want to talk about sports, so a more experienced interviewee should take the lead on that question :P
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby straxen » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:32 pm

Don't underestimate the power that the seemingly less influential people may have over the process. If one gives a negative review, you may be out. For what it's worth, in the CPA firm I worked with, positive reviews from the more senior people and middling reviews from us underlings was interpreted as having a bad attitude toward the more junior people or not making an effort with them, and was a quick way to get dinged on a callback, even if the partners responsible for making the decision thought everything went great.

Sometimes you connect with all of your CB interviewers, and sometimes you don't. With 8 I wouldn't worry too much. And I would follow a conversation if you have a connection, but if you're exclusively making chit-chat I would try to steer the conversation back to you.
Last edited by straxen on Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby RVP11 » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:33 pm

You shouldn't change anything. Some firms, especially those with very small SA classes, are just going to be very picky. It's possible that everyone was pleased with you but there was still some lack of "fit."

You have eight more callbacks. You'll be fine.

EDIT: I disagree with the above poster. Do NOT try to "stand out." Fit is way more important at the callback stage than some nebulous idea of your "ability to do the work." You need to come across as confident, friendly, flexible, and a cool dude to be around. You don't want to be the guy who felt the need to give them the hard sell because he has no confidence.
Last edited by RVP11 on Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

memo2partner
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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby memo2partner » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:35 pm

stats? school?

barry
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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby barry » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:37 pm

can i ask what ranking of firm this was (V10, V100, NLJ 250) I also want to know, b/c i had an early cb, that sounded like yours got along great with the hiring partner and felt they all went well but I too am pretty vanilla

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby RVP11 » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:37 pm

BTW I wouldn't classify this feedback as "discouraging." It's encouraging. He was giving you a very honest "it's not you, it's us."

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:43 pm

<-- OP

Lower T14, ~top 20%

Firm is non-NYC V25

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:46 pm

<-- OP

RVP11 wrote:You don't want to be the guy who felt the need to give them the hard sell because he has no confidence.


I understand some of the advice from the first response, about how it's still an interview and these new interviewers haven't really evaluated my abilities yet. That said, the above quote I think is the exact mindset that ultimately guided my interviewing style.

Maybe in the future I can a slightly better balance. Some non-awkward, non-"hard sell" ways to talk about my experience a bit more.

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby erico » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:47 pm

CB ding via phone is rough. But don't let it get you down. 8 CBs is a lot and you'll just get stronger as you go.

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby barry » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:<-- OP

Lower T14, ~top 20%

Firm is non-NYC V25


thanks, I wouldn't be too discouraged what firms look for in terms of fit can vary widely, and obviously tons of good candidates will be dying to get in a V25, with your stats i don't think you need to worry

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:51 pm

<-- OP

RVP11 wrote:You shouldn't change anything. Some firms, especially those with very small SA classes, are just going to be very picky. It's possible that everyone was pleased with you but there was still some lack of "fit."


Some additional tidbits to point out. The class is medium to good-sized, I would say. They had 18 last summer and I would expect around 20 this year.

Also, for what it's worth, I was their first CB of the year. On the Monday I went in, the firm was doing its first OCI days at local schools and didn't expect more CBs to come in for a week or so.

I thought this would be good because it would make me stand out in a way, but on the other hand it kind of sucks that at their first big meeting, I was already a week and a half old.

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:57 pm

Anonymous User wrote:<-- OP

RVP11 wrote:You shouldn't change anything. Some firms, especially those with very small SA classes, are just going to be very picky. It's possible that everyone was pleased with you but there was still some lack of "fit."


Some additional tidbits to point out. The class is medium to good-sized, I would say. They had 18 last summer and I would expect around 20 this year.

Also, for what it's worth, I was their first CB of the year. On the Monday I went in, the firm was doing its first OCI days at local schools and didn't expect more CBs to come in for a week or so.

I thought this would be good because it would make me stand out in a way, but on the other hand it kind of sucks that at their first big meeting, I was already a week and a half old.


is there any opinions on this b/c i also did a very early cb, and am wondering if it will put me at a disadvantage, i had always thought the earlier the better but maybe too early is bad as well?

memo2partner
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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby memo2partner » Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:12 pm

Hate to beat a dead horse, but did you send a thank-you letter?

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:21 pm

memo2partner wrote:Hate to beat a dead horse, but did you send a thank-you letter?


I sent medium-length thank-you emails to each of the people I met with thanking them for their time and touching specifically on an aspect of the firm we discussed. Three attorneys quickly responded and the others went unanswered.

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Lieut Kaffee » Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:41 pm

I thought DF said screeners were about credentials and CB were about aspie or not. I guess maybe one of those first interviewers thought you were aspie?

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:24 pm

I have four offers from V10s. My thoughts -

Ask penetrating questions. Not just "what is the summer program like?" but ones that reflect the fact that you've done your homework on the specific firm you are interviewing with. Think about what questions are appropriate to ask partners, and what questions are appropriate to ask associates. For partners, I would often ask questions involving their ideas about particular practice groups at the firm that were growing, or questions about a unique element of management at the firm. For associates, I'd ask more about in-house training at the firm, the types of projects they were staffed on coming in, etc.

The concept of "selling yourself" is weird and amorphous, so you have to find a strategy that works for you. To me, selling myself doesn't mean going through a laundry list of my accomplishments or the things I've done - it is more about having a story that demonstrates my best qualities without having to outright say what those qualities are. I found that I had four stories I told over and over in interviews that involved highly specific examples of what I loved about the work I did over the summer, why I wanted to come to the city I was interviewing in, why I wanted to be a lawyer, etc. This will probably sound odd, but for me, those stories were, in a way, very personal. They each explained something about me and something about an item on my resume at the same time. The people you are meeting with look at tons and tons of great resumes. You are right that "fit" is key - and for me, demonstrating the fact that I would "fit" was about showcasing my personality through the lens of my resume, not the other way around.

HTH.

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:38 pm

Same anon poster as above.

One more thing - be honest, especially on the tough questions. People know if you are hedging or switching to a canned answer. This was especially important to me when I got questions about what concerns I had about a firm, or what I thought about the amount of work I would be doing.

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:00 am

OP, sounds like you did just fine and don't let the feedback make you think too hard, etc... it might just throw you off.

You have lots of callbacks and obviously aren't a shitty interviewer, so you'll def have some offers on the table at the end of this process.

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:19 am

Lieut Kaffee wrote:I thought DF said screeners were about credentials and CB were about aspie or not. I guess maybe one of those first interviewers thought you were aspie?


no way this is true. maybe preselect is about credentials, but screeners definitely have an aspie or not aspect to them.

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:39 pm

Bump by OP.

Thanks again to everyone who chimed in. All of the advice was instrumental as my callbacks continued. I now have three offers in the same market, including my top two overall choices.

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Eco » Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:32 pm

I agree with others that if all you talk about is sports etc..., then the interviewer is not interested in you at all and is just using up the time to talk about something else. Don't get me wrong- it is nice to talk about stuff. But IMO you have to talk about yourself and if its steering too far away you should bring it back by saying something like, "NYC really does have great food Mr. Smith (name of interviewer). It's one among many reasons to want to live in this city, which is why I am looking for a long-term career here, and that's what attracted me to your firm, the stability, presence, etc..." and you're back on track...

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:20 pm

Eco wrote:I agree with others that if all you talk about is sports etc..., then the interviewer is not interested in you at all and is just using up the time to talk about something else. Don't get me wrong- it is nice to talk about stuff. But IMO you have to talk about yourself and if its steering too far away you should bring it back by saying something like, "NYC really does have great food Mr. Smith (name of interviewer). It's one among many reasons to want to live in this city, which is why I am looking for a long-term career here, and that's what attracted me to your firm, the stability, presence, etc..." and you're back on track...


OP again.

I talked about quite a bit of sports with the three consecutive firms I just CB with who gave me offers.

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:41 pm

I just went on a callback. I talked a lot about sports too. Hopefully that doesn't mean i will get dinged...
Also, an interviewer asked me a really weird question. "what makes you happy in life?"
Southern biglaw firm.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Discouraging CB Feedback. Thoughts?

Postby Lieut Kaffee » Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I just went on a callback. I talked a lot about sports too. Hopefully that doesn't mean i will get dinged...
Also, an interviewer asked me a really weird question. "what makes you happy"
Southern biglaw firm.

Weird questions can definitely throw you off. Someone asked me "What would you want to be if you didn't want to be a lawyer?"

wtf.




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