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Common questions to expect in a legal interview

No-one can predict all the questions you’ll be asked in an interview. But certain ones come up time and again. So think how you’d answer the typical interview questions we’ve listed here, and you’ll be better prepared. The questions are deliberately open, so you won’t just answer yes or no, and if possible support your answers with relevant examples.

Be relaxed and professional, and maintain eye contact with all the interviewers rather than just one. But most of all, show off your knowledge of the firm and your enthusiasm.

What you could be asked

  • Why do you want to leave? (Do not overly criticise).
  • Why are you looking to join us?
  • How much do you know about us?
  • Where does your initial interest in law come from?
  • What do you like about your current role? And what do you dislike
  • What sort of culture do you fit into best?
  • What successes have you enjoyed in your current role? How were they achieved?
  • What sort of supervisory/mentoring/management experience do you have?
  • How would your boss/team describe you?
  • What do you want to achieve over the next 2/3/5 years?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How good are you at:
    • Time recording
    • Dealing with targets
    • Prioritising
    • Delegating
    • Marketing/Business Development
  • How regularly do you use Counsel? How do you instruct them? Who do you regularly instruct?
  • What difficulties have you found in your jobs in the law and how have you overcome them?
  • Give examples of trials/deals you have been involved in.
  • What do you currently bill in fees/what's your billing track record? What's your charge out rate?
  • What contracts have you introduced to the firm? Do you have a following?
  • What do you like to do outside work?
  • What's your ideal job?
  • Where did you go for your last holiday?
  • What was the last book you read?
  • How IT literate are you?

What you should ask

  • How’s this opportunity arisen?
  • What’s the structure of the organisation/department?
  • What’s the culture of the organisation? Team spirited? Is there an open door policy?
  • How much training, support and development opportunity will there be?
  • What are the future plans of the business/department?
  • Who do you regard as your main competitors?
  • What types of individuals are in the department currently?
  • How do you appraise the performance of your staff?
  • What are the long term prospects for the person who gets the job?
  • Ask the interviewer who they worked for before and how long they have worked in their current role (this can develop the rapport and allow you to gather your thoughts).
  • What IT systems do you have in place currently?
  • How many files on average will you be expected to handle?
  • How much business development will you be expected to be involved in?
  • Does the organisation encourage marketing and development of client relations?
  • Will you have responsibility for any junior members of the team?
  • How many chargeable hours are staff expected to bill per month?
  • What is the ratio of support staff to fee earner?
  • Is the office open plan or cellular?
  • Who would you report directly to?

Never…

  • Fidget, yawn or look bored.
  • Give rambling answers that avoid the question.
  • Reply with just a yes or no.
  • Mention any concerns or reservations – what may seem an issue now rarely will be later.
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