Non-T14 OCI Experience

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Non-T14 OCI Experience

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Aug 25, 2015 10:47 pm

Since I benefited so much from TLS, I feel obligated to give back.

My background - T20 school, not sure about my rank but definitely on the top. 35 screening, 9 callbacks, got a good offer on my fifth callback during OCI. Based on my school data, everyone thought I was guaranteed a job - good experience, good grades, good personality, and NOT A WEIRDO (OK, at least I think so). Then, I went to OCI and a lot of firms did not call me back although I was so confident even to get an offer. Still, I got 9 callbacks - not too great but not bad. Then, I started doing callbacks, and I was literally the most awkward person I could ever be on earth. I kept on getting rejections right after hiring committee meetings and every time I saw the posts on TLS (yeah I checked all the time), I really wanted to cry. Obviously, my callback skills were horrible and I was very worried that I would strike out. Luckily, after talking to CSO and doing mock interviews with classmates, I had a very successful callback and the moment I walked out from the office, I knew I was going to get an offer very soon.

My lessons - 1) hang in there - if you want biglaw, really mean it; do whatever you can to get a biglaw job! 2) Be realistic - don't be either over-confident or over-depressed. This happened to me and it did NOT help.

First of all, for non-T14 people, unless you are sure that you are the top 1% or 2% of your class, don't be 100% sure that you are guaranteed a job. Treat each screening like it's your last chance - exaggerating a bit, but seriously, there are top 5% people in my school who thought it would be easy for them, only cared for a few screenings, and mass mailing now. Especially for the top 10 firms, those firms would only want to call the top 1% or 2% kids back, and those kids would take all the V10 offers to your school. You can always kill BOTH the screener AND the callback to get an offer, but if your school is not a local school and historically V10 firms don't have summers from your school every year, it's really more about luck. Again, I am not saying it's not possible (since I got very good amount of callbacks from them), but I could tell that they were not going to hire me unless I got literally a perfect score on callbacks. As frustrating as it is, this is what you have to do. With the right attitude, you probably will get too many callbacks but you can always cancel them later - but please, don't put yourself in a position where you are desperate for screeners. As you can imagine, when I received my fourth rejection email, I was dying for getting more screeners, but OCI was already over - now, I still wish I cared more when I was approaching the middle of OCI (when I got most of my callbacks), because how the hell would it hurt me if I worked hard on the rest of screeners and got more callbacks?

Second, callbacks and screeners are different, at least in my opinion. Some people think callbacks are just four screeners in a roll with one firm, but I think they are different because 1) screeners tend to be more structured with some questions the interviewer want to ask you, but a lot of times your callback interviewers do not know what they want to ask you until you walk into the room, 2) most screening interviewers are more serious in a sense that they understand their job for that day is to interview those kids, but some callback interviewers are just grabbed because they have time (one of my interviewers was clearly not happy about it...), and 3) the purpose is different - screeners serve as the preliminary cut where in a preselection system, they find the best combination of grades and fit, but callbacks really emphasize on fit, although grades also matter somehow.

Unfortunately, I do not have too much to write about screeners - as I said I didnt do super well, but I was happy with it and when I did most mock interviews, my feedback was very positive (besides I played with my hair once...). I say, be articulate, be concise but clear, be nice, and smile - you should get callbacks if you have enough screeners.

Callbacks are hard, but the key is to have a great conversation in a professional setting, so your interviewers like you. For me, it took me four callbacks with very good firms to figure our what I was doing. When I did two and I was not doing well, I harassed my CSO as hell and everyone told me the same - be engaging, tell them a story about you, plug in when you can, etc. - it's so hard, isn't it?! I tried that with my third callback, and it turned out the fastest rejection I ever received - thinking back, if you over engage yourself, you look very desperate (I must have looked so desperate hahaha), and they would wonder "OK she's very qualified but why the hell is she so worried? Does she have problems?" A very good standard is, when the conversation between you and the interviewer is going on, suppose it is not for an interview, would you naturally feel like plug in here and talking about yourself/your feelings/follow up/etc.? If no, then it's probably not the time to tell a story about yourself. This is what I did with my fifth one and it worked. If you think it's hard to know how to measure it, find a classmate you really trust and mock with him/her - this is the best resource to work on this matter. Also, the basic, know yourself well, but if you are at this stage, you should have known yourself well enough. Then, this point is important - ask questions. It does not have to be the rocket science in their field unless you really know that thing well - remember, that person across the table is an expert, and he/she understands you know nothing about the field and it's OK - that's why you are in school and looking for a job. But, not knowing something but pretending to know about it? It's a separate issue. Of course, if you know it so well, let's say you worked in an ibank for 2 years, definitely you can talk about it and it's very impressive (at least I think so). You can always start with "what drew you to the firm" and "what made you decide to practice XYZ?" and the conversation will naturally flow. Similarly, imagine if the conversation is not for an interview but just purely for your benefit of getting more information, what would you ask that person - by thinking in this way, I did very well with my last callback. I only stocked up 5 questions, but I did not use up all of them in my successful callback, because the conversation just naturally flowed. One last thing - poise, be professional! I made this stupid mistake at one callback, because my interviewers were laid back like crazy, and I laughed VERY loud (OK, one interviewer said a very funny joke so at that point I forgot it was an interview...), and I wanted to slap my face 10 times when I walked out from his office. It's so simple, but sometimes we just forget for whatever the stupid reason is. My cure to this - imagine the interviewer is a client and I am meeting a client, is it OK if I laugh that hard/sit like this/etc.? If you think it's very appropriate, it's appropriate. If it is not, then yeah, change it. Some interviewers were super casual so you don't wanna be so tied up, but still keep in mind this is a professional setting, and whatever you do should be PROFESSIONAL. Some interviewers were very rigid, and I think it actually helps A LOT on this matter. Remember - when you are at a callback stage, you are qualified for the job, but they want to make sure they can work with you. By naturally having a good conversation,they know you will not drive them insane at work; by being professional, they know they can put you in front of a client. Also, by showing you have good interest in the firm, they know they will not waste an offer - I did not illustrate this point, as I think it's pretty easy. But, anyone has questions, comment, and I will elaborate in the comment.

To all the candidates who are on the edge of striking out - keep on working hard. Adjust your strategy. Things can work out if you eventually adapt the right strategy. I've been there, so I totally get the anxiety and stress, but - an offer will only come to you when you put yourself together and do it right! Thank you for your company and all the posts through the process - good luck everybody!


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