Typically at the end of any interview the interviewer will ask “Do you have any questions for me?”  Be prepared to ask many questions even it you have multiple interviewers.  A lack of questions may be interpreted by the employer as a lack of interest or enthusiasm for the position.

Some questions can be asked most naturally during the interview.  A good interview is a dialogue and asking questions as they fit into the conversation helps to establish a relaxed and confident tone.  Making sure you still have questions to ask at the end of the interview can be ensured by having prepared numerous questions.

Conducting your employer research in preparation for the interview will assist you in developing a long list of direct and relevant questions.  Good questions will help distinguish you from the other interviewees while providing you with relevant information.  Avoid questions that can easily be found on the website or in the materials provided by the firm.  Go beyond the basics and show that you have not only done your research but have thought critically about the position. Intelligent questions that stem from the research you conducted on the firm or organization indicate to the interviewer your enthusiasum for the position.

The questions you ask can also build rapport with the interviewer.  An interview is really about building a personal connection and showing how you will fit with the firm’s culture.  Asking the interviewer about their own personal experiences with the firm can assist you in understanding the culture better and help you determine what it is really like to work there. 

  • I noticed on the firm’s webpage that you have been at the firm for over 15 years.  How did you select the firm and your specific practice area?
  • What types of client matters are you currently working on?
  • How is your job different from what you expected it to be?
  • What is the most important thing you have learned as a result of working here?
  • What do you find most challenging about being an attorney?

These questions switch the focus from you to the interviewer while helping you gain insight on how the firm operates and what to expect if you receive a job offer. When asking these types of questions, make sure they sound natural and not memorized.  Smile offen, be an active listener and engage with the interviewer.

You should also ask questions about the firm’s practice that genuinely interest you.  Well thought out, impactful questions regarding how the firm’s cases are staff, or how you as an intern will receive work, as well as specific questions regarding your responsibilities, will show the employer that you have carefully considered the position. Some other possible questions you might consider include:

  • In the transactional area, what types of deals might first-year attorneys work on?
  • What opportunities are there for new associates to learn about the various practice groups within the firm?
  • Does the firm support partner-associate mentoring relationships?  If so, what activities do mentors use to help new attorneys reach their professional goals?
  • Will my work be assigned from a department head, or will my work come from just one partner?
  • Does the firm have any summer associate or new attorney training programs?
  • Is it common to be assigned work from other departments?

Naturally you will tailor your questions differently if you are interviewing at a small firm.  You would also ask different questions if you are interviewing with a partner as opposed to a junior associate.  Approporiate questions for a partner would be:

  • How has the practice changed over the last 5 years?
  • How have your clients’ needs changed over the last 5 years?
  • Where do you see the partnership heading in the near future?

There are questions you should avoid.  They include questions regarding salary and benefits.  Until you have been offered a position it is inappropriate to inquire.  Also avoid requesting information about your prospects for becoming a partner.  Often the recruiter will address the topic, but the interviewee should not.

FINDLAW for Legal Professionals, “How to Excel in Law Firm Interviews” http://www.infirmation.com/articles/one-article.tcl?article_id=2466  (Accessed Jan. 24, 2013)

Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams, Walton, Kimm Alayne, 1999