25 Things That Annoy Admissions Officers and Hiring Partners

(Updated 7/16/2015)

We reached out (twice now) to a number of friends at law schools and at firms and companies to see what things applicants did that made them grouchy (pro tip — it isn’t in your best interest to make them grouchy!) This is what we got, not surprisingly a good deal related to emails.

About to apply to law school? Your professional career starts now. Keep these in mind!


1. When they launch into a sales presentation about themselves the moment we meet

-* CEO of Company*

  1.  Sending emails without subjects or a  ”.” as the subject

  2. Dean of Admissions

  3.  Specifying  a time to speak in the  future on the phone/via email without  providing a time zone

  4. Hiring partner but this also drives Spivey insane. This seems especially true for people in Eastern Time Zone who often aren’t aware there are indeed other time zones.

4. Sending the same exact email to numerous people, not CC’d, but as individual emails

– Multiple admissions officers

5. Sending an email to someone and if they don’t hear back sending the EXACT SAME email a few hours ( or days) later with no new message. Essentially forwarding their own email to the same recipient

  • Multiple Admissions and Career Services Deans

6. Sending an email to a person’s individual email address with a generic salutation or no salutation (e.g., emailing me personally and saying “To whom it may concern” instead of        ”Dear Sally”

  • Director of Admissions

7. In email, anything less than a formal and professional tone is a no. For example, addressing an admissions dean by his or her first name instead of “Dean ____” or a hiring      partner by “Jim” instead of “Mr. Smith.” Similarly, failing to include an appropriate signoff (Regards, Sincerely, whatever) and just putting a name at the end — or worse, no name  at all (more often found when one emails from a phone, I’ve noticed).

  • Former Admissions Officer & Hiring Partner

8. Finding me on Facebook and sending me a friend request

  • Dean of Admissions

9. Telling me how we evaluate our applicants

  • Director of Admissions

10. Emailing an attachment related to a call/meeting, including your resume,  just before the start of the call/meeting

  • Director of Career Services

11. * Entitlement. Any hint of it can sour a relationship instantaneously.*

*    – *Multiple Admissions Officers and Hiring Partners

12. Sending an email that isn’t clear if they require a response or if they actually asked a question. No “ask”

  • Dean of Law School

  •  Not reading your emails and asking a question that has already been answered in a previous email e.g., I had an admitted student send me a really rude email stating “you never sent me the password for the admitted student website” but the email that they were replying to actually contained the password for the admitted student website

  • Admissions Officer

14.* Applicants who are less than pleasant to the folks who answer the phone. I used to answer the phone from time to time so I could stay in the loop because I supervised the front office staff and it was amazing how rude people are when they don’t think the person matters on the other end. Everyone matters*

  • Director of Admissions

  •  Starting a phone call by launching into your issue without a basic greeting and introduction e.g., I answer the phone and someone gruffly says “I haven’t gotten my reimbursement for ASW” instead of “Hi, this is Sandy Smith, I’m an admitted student.”

  •  Admissions Officer

16. Being more than a second late for our first get together, formal or informal. Just be early

  • Managing Partner at a BigLaw firm

17. *Applicants who submit recommendation letters from individuals who obviously barely know the applicant.  These letters usually come from CEOs, members of US Congress, and high profile alums who know the parents, but not the applicant.  They add very little to the overall application.  Rule of thumb, unless you worked for the Senator, you should not get a letter from him/her. *

  • Dean of Admissions

  •  Failure to show me that the applicant has actually accomplished something in the real world

  • Lawyer and former President of two major companies (ABC/Fox Broadcasting)

19. Approaching scholarship negotiation as if they have previously done billion dollar deals and we at the law school are junior high students rather than former practicing        lawyers

  • Dean of Admissions

20. Not responding to our multiple attempts at asking them their matriculation plans to multiple contact information that they provided. In other words, blowing us off and not having the simple courtesy to withdraw or tell us their future plans after they have been admitted.

  •  Dean of Admissions

21. Saying “I look forward to hearing from you soon” as the sign off to the email. It can come across as passive aggressive in certain contexts.

-Dean of Admissions

22. Saying “I am disappointed BUT” in an email or phone call. If it required a “BUT” you should look carefully at what precedes that word. We get that you didn’t want to be waitlisted.

-Multiple Admissions Officers

*23. Persistently calling without leaving a voice message. We have caller ID. *

-Admissions Officer

*24. Titling an email “urgent” or “critical” or “immediate response required” when I don’t even know you. Most of the time I have also found that response asked for is far from urgent. Also, most of the time when I drop what I am doing to immediately respond to the non-urgent message I get a barrage of follow-up questions. *

  • Mike Spivey

25. Upon receiving a cold call/e-mail from someone about a job inquiry, I usually offer to take them for coffee or lunch, to help network (my firm typically only hires laterals that we know well). 90% of the time, I never get a response back to my offer, once I’ve told them we do not have open positions. *Its a huge pet peeve and really unprofessional IMHO.*

-Hiring Partner