What Questions Should You Ask During An Interview?
Asking questions during an interview is a great opportunity to engage further with the interviewer, build rapport and really demonstrate that you are passionate about the job.
Furthermore, it demonstrates that you are prepared and have put thought into the role and what your future may look like at the law firm.
Here are a few great questions you should ask during an interview
1. Why is this vacancy open?
This is an important question for several reasons and believe it or not, may give you just cause not to pursue an opportunity with the firm.
The opportunity may have come available because:
- The law firm is growing and is expanding;
- Someone has been promoted within the firm; or
- Someone has quit or been fired.
Obviously, the best situation is if the law firm is growing or if someone has been promoted and the firm needs more lawyers to service their client base.
If someone has been fired, or if someone has quit you should inquire as to the reasons this occurred, bearing in mind, the answer you receive will be one-sided and you may not receive the full story. This is important from the point of view that you really want to avoid starting at a new firm where there are issues that may be affecting the work environment.
TIP: If the law firm is experiencing growth or if there are internal promotions leading to the vacancy, it’s a great opportunity for you to express your enthusiasm showing how you want to be part of their continued success.
2. Who will I report to?
Who you report to is an important factor of any job. In particular with law firms, the senior associate or partner the position reports to may be a strong selling point of the role. Many Partners within their respective practice areas are highly regarded and lawyers advancing in their careers will hold the opportunity for mentorship and development by such individuals very highly.
Find out as much as possible about the type of person, manager and leader the direct supervisor is and determine if they are someone you could see yourself working with.
- Some managers are great lawyers and not so great managers
- Management styles can differ, some people can be very hands-on and micromanage all aspects of your workload, others are more hands off allowing you to be more autonomous, allowing you to seek advice and guidance when needed.
TIP: Understand the management style you work well with. You may be the type of person that feels smothered when you have too much oversight, or you may be the type of person that prefers close guidance.
3. What would you like me to achieve in the first 90 days?
If the law firm can answer this question, you know you’re on to something good. It means that the law firm has a defined structure for onboarding new lawyers and has defined tasks and objectives to help you succeed.
Sometimes, especially with smaller firms, the question may not be able to be answered as definitively, this is because some firms lack the structure and resources to implement and maintain such programs. The work environment could still be great, it’s just the workload may be more ad-hoc and strong multitasking skills will be required. You’ll also be required to be more self-motivated and mindful of where you are spending your time to achieve objectives.
TIP: Make sure you are comfortable in the type of work environment offered, some law firms are very structured with resources to handle onboarding and development, others may expect you to hit the ground running with less training and initial supervision.
4. What does a successful lawyer here look like?
This is a great question to help you to determine what characteristics the law firm values in their employees, and what they determine as being successful attributes.
The firm may give you examples such as:
- We value business development and networking outside of core business hours
- We value self-motivation and hard work
- Our lawyers have a commitment to ongoing skills development
TIP: The best thing about this question is that it gives you the opportunity to expand on the answers given and for you demonstrate how you share the same successful attributes of other successful lawyers in the firm.
5. What’s the next step?
This is perhaps one of the most important questions of the entire interview as it demonstrates to the law firm your enthusiasm and that you are still interested in the position. Their response also gives you the opportunity to gauge their level of interest in you.
If you find that their response is tepid and they don’t provide you with too much information in the sense that you don’t think they’re showing too much excitement towards you as a potential new hire, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some law firms have a tendency to keep their cards pretty close to their chest.
On the upside, this question may even lead to a “When can you start” type response.
TIP: This is your opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the position. Act confident and it will demonstrate to the law firm that you have the ability to fulfil the responsibilities of the role. Exhuming confidence and motivation will help demonstrate that you have a good attitude and will be a good culture fit for the firm,
Asking good questions allows you to find out important information and will help you to determine if, in fact, you are the right fit for the law firm. It may certainly be the case that the opportunity is exactly what you are looking for, however, it may also help you to determine if it’s not the right firm to help you achieve your long-term career objectives.
Questions show that you have put some good thought into the position and demonstrates that you have an enthusiasm and commitment to finding the right opportunity. It’s also a great way to avoid any of those awkward silent moments, allowing you to build rapport.