Asking law interview questions

  • Last updated Aug 11, 2016 5:11:40 PM
  • By Billy Sexton, Editor,

Those all-important vacation scheme and training contract interviews coming up soon, it’s time to get your interview technique and game plan in place. There’s load of things you can do to impress at a vacation scheme or training contract and we’ve even got some examples of the questions you’re likely to be asked in an interview.

One of the best ways to impress at any interview is by asking questions yourself. That’s not to say that you should reel off a load of rehearsed questions when the interviewer asks if you have any questions. Asking questions is great, but they need to sound genuine and you shouldn’t ask anything that you could have found out on a firm's website, such as “How many seats will I undertake during my training contract?” Ask intelligent question that concern your career progression or the role. This allows to you find out more about working for the firm and emphasises your motivation.

Questions to avoid at a law interview

We’ll start with what NOT to ask. Don’t even dream of asking about anything to do with salary, holiday or benefits – this could give the impression that you’re just seeing the dollar signs rather than being passionate about the job.

Additionally there are some questions that may look good on paper, but if asked will not make a great impression. For example, if you asked “Who do you consider your top competitor, and why?” it shows a lack of commercial awareness and previous research.

Questions about career progression

On the flip side, there are some great questions you can ask that shows the employer you’re the best fit for this role. For example, the job description will have outlined the qualities the applicant is expected to possess, but to show that you’re wanting to go above and beyond the call of duty, ask the interviewer, “What are your expectations within the first month, or first three months?” This will reveal the absolute minimum of what is expected of you, and you can work to exceed these targets.

Additionally, although you haven’t even landed this role yet, it’s understandable that you’re going to be concerned about your long-term career prospects. Don’t ask “What is the typical career path for someone in this role?” as the answer is always very similar, i.e. trainee, associate, partner. It shows a lack of knowledge about the industry and that you haven’t given deep thought to what questions you’re going to ask.

Rather, you should ask something along the lines of, “How many vacation scheme students go on to secure a training contract with this firm?” or “What are your trainee retention rates for the past three years?” or “How many current partners started out as trainees at the firm?” This shows ambition, intrigue and sounds a lot more intelligent than a “When can I expect to be made partner?”

Questions about working for the firm

Another good question to ask can be what the interviewer likes best about working for the firm. A recruiter’s job role is very different to that of a lawyers. Maybe when the interview is over you can make some small talk about how many other days of interviews they’ve done, and if they like this busy period compared to the other parts of the job. Small talk and kindness can go a long way.

Asking questions at an interview is a key part of the process, so think carefully about what you’re going to ask and make sure it’s not too obvious a question! 

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