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Interview Questions for Law Students

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Wondering what you'll be asked during an interview? Some questions are pretty standard. Here are samples from a legal interview, with some discussion.


Lou Adler, during his 2004 Hiring 2.0 seminar, proclaimed that today's job seekers are some of the most sophisticated and well prepared people he's seen. They realize an interview is a two-way street. They have excellent questions to ask the interviewer. And they're exceptionally prepared when being questioned by an interviewer.

Still, there are some who don't know what types of questions to expect and are caught off guard. More's the trouble for them. A little homework would have helped.

Southwestern School of Law's Career Services office has prepared a 16-question interview sheet for their law students. Gracious, they allowed me to reproduct the questions for my readers' benefit. So let's look at these questions and discuss a few.

  1. What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives? When and why did you establish these goals, and how are you preparing yourself to achieve them?
    Employers want to feel you've got some direction. To the extent you are able to express goals and steps to arrive at those goals, you are also able to demonstrate how logically you can go about completing your required duties in the workplace and the amount of supervision and coaching you will require. This statement of long and short-range goals doesn't need to be a dissertation. Nor does it need to be exhaustive. A brief overview of the most pertinent with a good explanation should be sufficient.

  2. Where do you see yourself three/five/ten years from now?
    Do you have a vision for yourself? Where are those goals and objectives leading? The employer is essentially trying to find out whether this opportunity is a stepping stone to the plateaus in your career or if you're just sifting about, trying out first this and then that. This question is also aimed at seeing whether you have a realistic concept of how long it will take for you to grow into certain positions in this company.

    Some employers look on entry-level jobs as just that. They're opportunities to earn a living while working toward the ultimate career. These are jobs that students will take or people who are new to the city will opt for as they become acclimated to their new environs and learn the territory of their chosen field in this new place. If that is your purpose in pursuing this job and it's obvious this position is not a true match for your skills and abilities, it's okay to be open about the fact that you are in school, getting your feet wet as you re-enter the job market, and so on.

  3. How would you describe yourself?
    This is the time to talk about those personality qualities that bring out the best in you. You're extremely analytical and can spend hours working out the what happened in order to get to a solution. You can stay focused. You're extremely outgoing, a team player, and great at building cohesion.

  4. What qualifications do you have that make you think you will be a successful attorney?
    This is the time to talk about the things you've learned about your chosen profession (and yourself) through research, interviews, internships, real-life experiences, personality assessments, and career skills evaluations. This is not the time to talk about how much better you can handle the case than Perry Mason. That is television and essentially fiction. This is the time to demonstrate that you appreciate the days of just the usual thing, poring over volumes of documents, researching case after case that doesn't seem to apply except in the most remote way -- and knowing when to let go of them.

  5. What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?
    Not only do you want to talk about the accomplishments but why they gave you satisfaction. What type of accomplishment was it -- personal, a milestone, small in relation to other things or large? Talk about that. It's okay to tell a story about one or two of these. This is your five minutes of fame.

  6. What area(s) are you most interested in?
    If you only have one area of specialization that you've focused on at this time, talk about it and what it is about that specialty that has most attracted you. If there is only one area of specialty (or none) consider whether you're open to gaining experience in any other areas.

  7. What three things are most important to you in a job?
    These things are part of your personality and self assessments. They will provide you with insight into the type of firm to which you are more suited. Some firms (depending on size) allow more latitude while others have a written-in-stone protocol.

  8. In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable?

  9. Do you have a geographical preference and, if so, why?

  10. Why do you think you might like to live in the community in which our firm is located?

  11. What do you know about our firm?
  12. Why did you decide to seek a position with our firm?
  13. Why should I hire you? How can you make a contribution to our firm?
  14. What are your three main strengths? What are your three main weaknesses?
  15. Why did you go to law school?
  16. What law school courses have you liked most/least? Why?
  17. Are your grades an accurate indication of your talent/potential? Why/Why not?
  18. Why did you choose your law school?
  19. What have you learned from your participation in Law Reiew/Moot Court/Law Journal/Trial Adovocacy/paid Law Clerk positions/Externship/volunteer work experience?
  20. How has your law school experience prepared you to work here?
  21. Have you interviewed with other firms? If so, where?
  22. Do you have other current job offers? If so, where?
  23. What do you like to do in your spare time?
  24. If you were going to do something other than practice law, what would you do? Why?
  25. Do you have questions about my firm that I can answer for you today? (Remember,the answer should never be "No.")

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Copyright, Yvonne LaRose, CAC, 021706 

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