Posted by Robert Half Legal on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 - 11:00 | Follow me
One smart strategy is to practice specific responses to a few of the questions commonly asked during law job interviews beyond the typical queries, such as, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” and “Tell me about yourself.”
Here are five topics the hiring manager is likely to introduce during the interview, along with an idea of the type of response he or she is probably looking for:
1. Why did you choose the field of law?
There are plenty of acceptable answers to this question: Perhaps you enjoy solving problems for other people, or you thrive when you’re researching answers to complex legal questions. Maybe you saw a bit of the law in action when you were a child, and it inspired you. Whatever your reason, demonstrate your passion for the legal profession, and remember that this is a good chance to showcase your personality, any specialized skills you have and the qualities that make you a good fit for this particular legal position.
One smart strategy is to practice specific responses to a few of the questions commonly asked during law job interviews beyond the typical queries.
2. What practice areas are you most interested in?
To answer this question well, you should research the firm or legal department prior to the interview so you can cite a practice area in which the firm engages. Explain why certain aspects of the practice area interest you, provide examples of the work the firm does in the area that inspires you, if possible, and discuss specialized skills or experience you have to offer.
3. What are your career goals?
Again, this question has many possible answers, from making partner at a big firm to launching and heading up a new practice area. There’s just one caveat: Your answer should outline something you can accomplish within the organization. In other words, if your long-term objective is to open up your own legal firm, now isn’t the time to share that aspiration. In asking this question, the interviewer is looking for some assurance that you’ll stick around, so make it clear that your ambitions line up with those of the company or firm.
4. Tell me about a time when …
Many firms and companies are asking this sort of behavioral question, which is designed to help them understand how legal job applicants react to certain situations. Be prepared with stories that describe how you reached a major milestone or solved a vexing challenge. Briefly explain the situation, but focus more of your answer on the result or resolution, and if you can, tie the story back to the open job for which you’re interviewing and how you would approach and perform in that position.
5. What are you reading right now?
Hiring managers use questions like this (similar ones include queries about your favorite movie or the three celebrities you’d invite to a dinner party) to get a better sense of your personality and to test how well you think on your feet. They’re looking for answers that show intelligence and awareness of current affairs, which indicate an ability to engage with clients.
If you can, practice your answers to these questions with a friend who will give you honest feedback about your responses. At the very least, run through the questions in front of the mirror so you can refine and get comfortable with your answers. This is one of those times when the old axiom is true: Practice really does make perfect.