During an interview, the employer always asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” Most students are aware that it is very important to have questions ready to ask, and prepare questions in advance for that purpose. What students may not know is that most interview questions that the interviewee asks fall into two categories, “me-focused” and “you-focused” questions.
A “me-focused” question centers on issues that the interviewee wants to know such as:
- What type of work will I be doing?
- Is there a mentoring program at your firm?
- Will I be assigned to one specific attorney or work with several?
- What does a typical day look like for a law clerk in your firm?
These questions are all good questions and will help the interviewee learn what they need to know about the position. However, during an interview you really have a very short time to make a positive impression. Companies expect interviewees to ask “me-focused” questions, but if all you ask is those type of questions, the interviewer may come away from the interview not really being clear how the candidate will “fit in” with their culture.
Looking through the employer’s eye, the purpose of an interview is to see how the candidate will meet the needs of the firm/agency. Asking “you-focused” questions assists the employer in determining how you might fit the need. Questions such as:
- What would be your ideal candidate for this position?
- What characteristics/skills are you seeking in a summer law clerk?
- Where could you use the most support right now in your practice?
- What do you (the employer) like most about your job?
Asking “you-focused” question not only at the end of the interview but throughout the interview, assists the interviewee in tailoring their answers to the needs of the firm. It also demonstrates a real interest in learning about the firm/agency and the people who work there. Centering on a few ”you-focused” questions can help students stand out from their competition.