Determining the Cost of Interviewing Each Candidate

The most expensive cost in hiring new attorneys is the lost billable time for attorneys who are doing the interviews. A number of Firms have asked us recently if we have ever calculated the cost per candidate interviewed. Based on our research and conversations with a number of clients we developed the following “cost model.”

Your specific numbers may be different depending on how many candidates you interview, hire and your average attorney billable rate. Our hope is that you will be able to use this “model” to determine your cost per candidate interviewed for your Firm. Knowing the cost per interviewee will help you play a more strategic role in hiring decisions and resource allocation, such as which law schools reap the best results for you Firm. It may also be good evidence in convincing your Firm the value of investing in an Interviewer Training Program.

Calculating Cost for Interviewing Candidates:

If the typical candidate goes through a full-round of interviews with your Firm and meets with 6 attorneys, including 1 on-campus interviewer and 5 attorneys in-house, the costs would be as follows:

Lawyer Time and Expenses
1 mid-level attorney for 20-minutes who bills at $250/hour = $83.00
2 Junior attorneys for 40-minutes** who bill at $150/hour = $200.00
1 Senior attorney for 40-minutes who bills at $250/hour = $167.00
2 Partners for 40-minutes who bill at $350/hour = $466.00
Cost of attorney billable time per candidate = $916.00
** Although most Firms schedule in-house interviews in 30-minute intervals, the reality is that between some interviews running late, time for escorting interviewees to their next appointment and time needed for completing evaluation forms, the real time commitment is closer to 40-minutes.
+ Average travel expenses per candidate + $350.00
+ Average cost for lunch per candidate (assuming 1 out of 4 candidates go to lunch with two attorneys for a cost of $100. $100/4 = $25) + $25.00
+ Attorney follow-up time (the average candidate with an offer gets 1 hour of attorney follow-up @ $250/hour) + $250.00
+ Hiring Committee Time (10 lawyers/meeting @ $250/hour meet for 1 hour a week for 13 weeks = $32,500. $32,500/100 offers = $325/person) + $325.00
PLUS: Additional overall expenses amortized per all candidates:
+ Attorney travel to on-campus interviews (Assuming the firm interviews at 16 schools total and travel is required to half of them if 2 attorneys interview at each of these 8 schools — average cost of hotel, carfare, airfare and meals is = $1200 x 2 interviewers x 8 schools = $19,200/180 in-house interviews = $106) + 106.00
+ Cocktail Receptions/Hospitality Suites/Marketing Events (Assuming the Firm interviews at 16 schools total. Half of them have receptions/suites/events=8. At a cost of $1000 average per school x 8 schools = $8000. $8000/180 in-house interviews = $44.00) + $44.00
+ On-Campus Registration Costs ($100 average per school x 16 schools = $1600. $1600/180 in-house interviews = $9.00) + $9.00
So, If your goal is to hire 20 Summer Associates, you will probably:
BEFORE Interviewer Training: AFTER Interviewer Training:
Interview on-campus 500 candidates 500 candidates
Callback to office: 200 candidates 160 candidates*
Interview in-house: 170 candidates 130 candidates*
Make offers to: 100 candidates 80 candidates
This will result in: 20 Offers Accepted*** 20 Offers Accepted
*You will call back fewer candidates because your on-campus interviewers will be more effective at screening which candidates should return to the Firm for a call-back. If you are brining back the “right” candidates 65% or more of them should be getting offers.
**The national average acceptance rate is 5:1; meaning that at most Firms you have to give 5 offers to get 1 acceptance. The reason for this is that most candidates that you give offers to also have offers from at least 4 other Firms. By training your lawyers on how to CLOSE most effectively, you will be able to increase your acceptance rate and therefore give out fewer offers to net the same size class.
With Interviewer Training, you should interview 40 fewer candidates in-house (170 candidates – 130 candidates).
Thus, you are saving the Firm: $2025.00 x 40 = $81,000

If you have any questions or comments on this model, please e-mail us at
We hope you find this information of value!