A Script For (Not So) Gracefully Declining Callback Interviews

By Pamela Foohey

OCI is over. You have survived three weeks of multiple interviews every day. You have taken full advantage of the unique opportunity to hone your interviewing skills by sampling the interviewing techniques of the representatives of over 30 firms. And hone you have. Now you have more callbacks than can possibly fit into one fly-out week, even if you extend it to two. Marvelously, you are in the seldom seen position of having to turn down callback offers. The appropriate response is to call or write an email politely declining the offer. The correct email should go something like this:

Dear [firm representative name here]:

It was a pleasure to meet you and learn about your firm. Unfortunately, I have to decline your callback offer. Thank you again.

Sincerely,

[your name here]

Yet, that email seems lacking. Recognizing that declining callbacks can be a nerve-racking process, I hope to lighten the mood by offering a new script. While entirely inappropriate, this situation is so rare that it clearly calls for something much more dramatic, commensurate with the power you now wield. Having received so many rejection letters in your law school career, especially if you applied to firms as a 1L, being able to shoot one back at them may give you a (probably unnecessary) ego boost. Such an ego boosting email may go something like this:

Dear [firm representative name here]:

Thank you for meeting with me regarding a Summer Associate position with [firm name here]. I enjoyed the opportunity to speak with you and was very impressed with your firm. My 2L summer process has been extremely difficult because of the number of exceptionally well-qualified firms to be considered. I am sorry to report that I will not be able to accept your callback offer at this time. I have filled my 2006 fly-out week and am no longer accepting callback interviews. Thank you for your interest. I wish you success in filling your summer class with interesting and highly qualified candidates. I encourage you to reconsider my application if I ever re-submit materials, just as I am likely to consider re-submitting materials next year to firms that did not offer me a callback.

Sincerely,

[your name here]

Or you could take a more subtle approach and just not respond. From personal experience, this seems to be the preferred method of investment banks, a majority of which force their interviewees to learn from overjoyed fellow students that they are unsuitable. However, it seems that law firms spare students this pain by eventually sending a rejection letter. We owe them the same courtesy. Besides, who wants a bunch of law firms hounding you? Caller ID is bound to fail at some point. Accordingly, I wish everyone happy declining.


Pamela Foohey is a 2L. She encourages her colleagues to use the first script for declining callback interviews.

Comments