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Questions to Ask During Interviews

Ask About The Firm

When asking about the firm, you should ask questions that the interviewer can easily answer. Be careful not to make your interviewer feel uncomfortable or unprepared by asking a question that is too narrow or specific. This can lead to an awkward situation, and may end up being the only thing the interviewer remembers about you.

Emily, a junior associate at a large firm, once had an interviewee ask her about a high-profile case the firm handled. It was a good question, one that showed that the student did his research. The problem was that the case was handled by more senior attorneys, at a different department and from a different office. Emily had to acknowledge that the only thing she knew about the case was what she had heard in the media. She gave the student a lower score on his evaluation because she did not feel this was a “smart question.”

In addition, always consider how likely it is that your interviewer will know the answer to your question.

As a junior associate, Rick interviewed a number of summer associates and lateral candidates who asked him about the partner-selection process, partner compensation, and even about the size of the book of business needed to make partner. The obvious flaw in all of those questions was that they would not be relevant for these candidates for another10 years or so. The other problem was that Rick had absolutely no idea what the answers were. Rick told the candidates to direct those questions to the partners, hoping they would have enough common sense at least to wait until getting an offer to ask them.

Well-thought-out questions about a firm include inquiries into the work at a particular department, the atmosphere of the office, the firm's pro bono projects, and any other questions that indicate in-depth research. You will get bonus points for starting your questions with, “I noticed that your firm has/does/offers….” Notably, although it is fine to ask about pro bono work, always try to refer to a particular case or project the firm handled. Otherwise, you are entering the “what not to ask” zone, risking leaving your interviewer with an impression that you are more interested in pro bono than billable work.

Jeremy once interviewed a third-year law student who attended a good law school but whose GPA was somewhat below the firm's recommended cut-off. Nevertheless, she received an offer from the firm because she impressed Jeremy by asking about the firm's pro bono signature project and inquiring whether summer associates could get involved. This project—the firm's pride and joy—was not yet widely publicized, so Jeremy was flattered that she found out about it on her own and then showed initiative by suggesting she wanted to work on it. This was enough to move her above the no-offer margin.

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw Job InterviewsQuestions to Ask During Interviews - Correct Answer #1: “i Have Several Questions”, Correct Answer #2: “no, Because I Did My Homework”