How to Answer Common Legal Profession Job Interview Questions

08 June 2023 Alessyn Hecht

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Heading into a job interview for a role as a lawyer or legal professional can be stressful, especially if you are new to the industry or applying with a top-tier firm in a major city. 

The key if you want to feel more confident (and get the job) is to be prepared. The following questions may come up in a legal industry interview, so think about how you will answer them.

Why do you want to work in the legal industry? What do you like about it?

You probably know the answer to this interview question in your head!  Be prepared with two or three points that really clearly articulate why you decided to work in the profession.  Delve into why you think it suits you personally and how you have already been able to make a difference to your current or previous employers.

Tell me a little about yourself…

This legal interview question gives you the opportunity to talk about your personality and explain the skills you bring to the job. 

To save yourself from rambling, have an answer ready which highlights some of your soft skills and a high level overview of your experience or qualifications.  Treat this answer as your ‘elevator pitch’ - meaning, it should be no longer than the one (or so) minute it would take you to get to your floor in an elevator, but punchy enough to get their attention.

Focus mainly on an answer that relates to your skills and work but add something interesting about what you like to do outside of work at the end of your answer. 

Specific ‘legalese’ questions

If you are applying to work at a law firm, there is a good chance the interviewer will ask you specific questions to test your knowledge of the legal system.

This may involve a question about which steps you took to handle a file, or an open-ended request to talk about the department and practice you work in.  Explain the industries and entities that form your client base. Discuss which elements of the matters you undertake and specify which tasks you complete autonomously and which are completed under supervision.  It’s also relevant to include the numbers, in terms of volume of files, or volume of revenue, your work involves.

It can help give the interviewer a clear picture of your ability if you can refer to a situation or project that you have been or are currently involved in.

Of course, it’s not possible to be prepared for every legal interview question but having some examples up your sleeve will reduce your risk of becoming flustered or giving short and unclear answers.  It helps keep the conversation flowing. 

Tell me about a time that you failed.

This, or some form of it, is another classic question. 

The trick is to come prepared with a story of a time you did something wrong but then solved the problem and went on to succeed. It could be a miscommunication that you remedied,  a gap in your skillset that you learned from, or even a clash in working style that you were able to turn around.

This way, you turn the question upside down, and give the interview insight into how you have used a tough situation to grow.  Doing this will not only show that you can cope with making a mistake as well as your resiliency.

How do you stay organised?

In the modern legal landscape, professionals are expected to be more and more self-sufficient.  In addition to managing your practice, you will be expected to be proactive and self-disciplined in other areas such as business development and mentoring others.

Have some examples of the tactics and technology you use to keep on top of your workload ready to share with the interviewer. It can help if you can talk about a time when you thought ahead and made life easier for yourself, your colleagues and clients. 

The ultimate tip for sailing through your job interview is to be prepared.

This article is an excellent start, but there are a few more things you can do:

  • Research the company and interviewers in advance of the interview;

  • Wear a neat and professional outfit that you feel comfortable and confident in;

  • Prepare specific examples wherever possible, so the interview gets a snap-shot of the type of employee, team mate, and leader you are;

  • Have reference contacts ready;

  • Update your LinkedIn and other relevant social media profiles so they clearly explain your skills and make you look professional.

  • Arrive at your interview with questions of your own prepared such as questions about the team and company culture, office environment, whom you will work with and client expectations.  

These tactics will help you ensure the experience feels more like a conversation than an interview. 

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