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Questions to Ask During Interviews

Ask About The Interviewer

No one loves flattery more than lawyers. If you are unable to work flattery into at least one of your questions, you are doing something wrong. This is where our dating analogy is most accurate. Just as you do on a first or second date, you need to connect and develop rapport with your interviewers. The only way to do this is by asking questions about them and searching for things you have in common, thus cultivating fertile ground for a nice, “feel-good” conversation.

You will score major brownie points with the interviewer if you ask him about his experience, achievements, and successes. (And yes, at the risk of sounding male centric, we say “him” because we believe that women attorneys are more likely to see through you if you use flattery less carefully.) Do not ask overly personal questions—unless you are sitting in the interviewer's office and you want to ask about a photo or a certain collectable on his or her desk.

One senior partner once made an offer to an associate because he asked the partner about a model of an airplane on his desk. As it turned out, the partner used to be a pilot in the military, and the little plastic plane on his desk was actually a model of the plane he now owned. Imagine the fascinating conversation that followed this question!

Even without tiny airplanes to rescue you, there are plenty of good questions at your disposal. Just look at the interviewers’ bios, read their attorney profiles, and, most importantly, listen. Did they go to the same school you did? Did they argue landmark cases? What do they like about their job? Did they used to live in an area familiar to you? Did they study abroad or work in a different country? Knowing their dossier helps you discuss subjects that are familiar to them.

You can also ask about their experience practicing in a certain area. One line of questioning that never fails is to ask how they developed their expertise in this area, what prompted them to pick this specialty, and what advice they have for you with regard to doing the same. Similarly, you can ask general questions about their tenure at the firm. Did they work somewhere else first? What do they like more about their current firm?

If your interviewers frequently speak at conferences, teach, or publish, by all means ask them about these things! Nothing makes attorneys more proud than achieving these milestones. Likewise, if they list the big cases they have won on their bio, they may be eager to talk about them.

A well-known partner who practices products liability exemplifies this principle. Early in his career, he argued a products liability case before the U.S. Supreme Court. He openly says this was the proudest moment in his life, and he does not get tired of talking about it even 20 years later. Not surprisingly, interviewees who do their homework and know to ask him about the case are very well-received.

The truth is, no matter what you ask, as long as you do not sound like a stalker and do not ask overly personal questions, getting your interviewer to talk will work in your favor. Candidates who engage their interviewers to the point that the interviewers talk more during the interview are more likely to receive offers.

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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”