Lawyer Interview Questions: The “Quick 3” Assessment

By Robert Half on August 13, 2015 at 3:00pm

When interviewing lawyers for a position at your law firm or company, it’s essential to assess such competencies as their legal and interpersonal skills as well as how good they are at thinking on their feet. And law school grades aren’t necessarily the best guide for assessing these core competencies.

Here are three lawyer interview questions that offer a different approach to assessing the skills of your legal candidates:

1. Tell me about the last time you encountered a problem at work with a client, colleague or boss.

This question can help you assess the candidate’s problem-resolution skills. Strong answers will reveal how candidates resolved both the problem and the interpersonal situation, including what they did to address their part in creating the situation and resolving both professional and personal aspects. Candidates who miss the point of your question might deflect or pinpoint blame onto another party.

2. Do you have any experience with eDiscovery or cloud-based legal functions?

Given today’s fast-paced legal field, it’s important that lawyer interview questions address trends affecting the profession, including legal technology and eDiscovery. If these areas aren't your specialties, you can still ask questions to determine how experienced candidates are in these areas. Exceptional answers about the eDiscovery process may include mention of the "blind spot" — that is, evidence created during the eDiscovery process itself — or recent case law.

3. If you could be any superhero, who would it be?

To gauge how candidates think on their feet, throw a curve ball. Off-the-wall interview questions have now expanded beyond tech startups and have joined the ranks of lawyer interview questions. Glassdoor offers some real examples from other fields:

  • If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?
  • If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why?

If you’re not comfortable going quite that far, take a leaf out of Microsoft’s book. Their interviews require candidates to shift gears and display logical thinking on unexpected, abstract topics, using questions such as: “If you were a brick in a wall, which brick would you be and why?” Candidates’ answers can give you a sense of their poise and critical thinking when taken by surprise, which is a valuable characteristic, particularly for litigators.

Of course there are many other lawyer interview questions you can ask. But these three alone can give you a quick preview of a candidate’s critical skills. In that regard, they’ll work for every legal position, from contract negotiation to litigation.

Robert Half has been helping companies with their hiring since 1948. Let us help you.

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