Questions You Should Be Prepared to Answer

Be ready to address weak areas of your resume, such as gaps between jobs or schooling, sudden changes in career direction or poor grades. Everyone has weak spots hidden within his or her resume. Experienced interviewers will quickly mark those areas for questioning. Avoid appearing apologetic, defensive or insecure and be willing to talk about these areas briefly and openly. 

If, for example, you received an "LP" in Property, then say so and provide a brief explanation, such as you were not feeling well on the day of the exam or that you enjoyed the class but realized from your post-exam discussion with the professor that you had misunderstood what he was looking for on one of the essay questions. Emphasize your good grades and the subjects that you loved and leave it at that. Most employers will not push you any further about these areas and being straightforward about them enables you to preempt any negative inference that the employer may be forming. You may also wish to turn a weakness or past mistake into something positive by speaking briefly about how you have changed or what you have learned from the experience. 

Most of the tough questions you might face during an interview will fall into the categories noted below. Take time to anticipate the types of questions likely to be asked in your interviews. Think through what your answers would be without "scripting" them or making them sound too rehearsed. When you are composing an answer to a question, it is helpful to consider the interviewer's reason for asking it. The interviewer may pose hypotheticals or questions about substantive areas of law. By asking these types of questions, interviewers are trying to evaluate how well you reason and analyze and how clearly you think and speak. Your ability to articulate your response is often more important than coming up with the right answer or being an expert on the relevant case law.

Personal

  • Tell me about yourself. 
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • How would you describe yourself as a person?
  • Why this particular geographic area?
  • What is the latest non-legal book you’ve read?
  • What are your outside interests and hobbies?
  • Who is your hero/heroine?
  • Why did you choose law?
  • What is your biggest accomplishment?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • What would make you a good trial advocate?
  • What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?
  • How would you go about building a trusting relationship with a client?
  • What is something interesting that’s not on your resume?
  • What one thing have you done that you’re proudest of?
  • What is the most difficult/rewarding thing you’ve ever accomplished?
  • How do you work under pressure?
  • How strong are your writing skills?
  • What type of people do you work with best or would have trouble working with?
  • Are you a team player or do you prefer to work on your own?
  • What do you feel are things that help a person become successful?
  • What constitutes success in your mind?
  • What is important to you in life?
  • What kinds of things give you the most satisfaction in your work?
  • How do you feel about representing alleged child abusers?
  • Is there any crime you would have trouble defending?
  • How do you feel when defense of the First Amendment conflicts with other rights?
  • How do you feel about accountability versus reconciliation?

Resume/Transcript

  • What type of responsibilities have you had in prior work experiences?
  • Why did you choose to work at these specific organizations?
  • What did you particularly like/dislike about that work?
  • Why did you leave your prior jobs?
  • Why did you choose your undergraduate major?
  • What did you do between college and law school?
  • Why did you decide to switch from your previous field to law?
  • Why did you go to law school? Have your goals changed since then?
  • What extracurricular activities have you participated in during law school?
  • What was the issue you argued in Moot Court? What was the argument on the other side?
  • What clinical work have you done in law school?
  • Tell me about your participation on the journal, in your externship, your clinical program, or your research project.
  • Tell me about your thesis/journal article.
  • Do you think your grades are a good indication of your academic achievement? Are they an indication of your ability to do a good job at this organization?
  • Why did you only get an “LP” in…?
  • Tell me about your interest in rock climbing, course on Islamic law, etc.

Knowledge of Organization/Position

  • What do you know about our organization?
  • Why do you want to work at our office?
  • Why do you want to work in our office, as opposed to other offices that do similar work?
  • Which of our legal practice areas and/or areas of interest are you most interested in?
  • Why our practice setting? Why our issues?
  • Why are you looking at this area of specialization?
  • What qualifications do you have that will make you successful at this job?
  • What would the greatest drawback of this job be for you?
  • Why should we select you over all the other candidates?
  • How are you prepared to work with clients/colleagues who are different from you?
  • What two or three things are most important to you in a job?
  • What kind of training or supervision are you looking for in a job?
  • How would you describe your ideal job?
  • What criteria are you using to evaluate the employer for which you hope to work?

Commitment to Public Service

  • Why did you decide to switch from private sector to public interest work?
  • How committed are you to service for the underrepresented?
  • What interest do you have in service to the public generally?
  • What are your practice interests?
  • How much experience have you had in your field of interest?
  • What fields interest you other than the one you are in?
  • How much experience have you had with public interest organizations?
  • What community service project do you believe allowed you to make the greatest impact and how?
  • What has been the greatest challenge you have faced during your volunteer efforts? How did you overcome such a challenge?
  • What are your short/long term career goals?
  • How are you planning to achieve these goals?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 (or 10) years?
  • Where else have you applied for a job?

Legal Reasoning/Thinking

  • What do you like most about law school? What do you find most challenging?
  • What was your favorite class in law school? Why?
  • Who was your favorite professor in law school? Why?
  • What qualities do you think a good lawyer should have?
  • Tell me about your legal writing sample/note.
  • Tell me about a legal memo you wrote this year.
  • Tell me about a recent Supreme Court case you disagreed with and why.
  • Tell me about your hardest law school exam question.
  • Tell me about a complex legal issue you worked on.
  • If you were a court, how would you rule on the following issue…?
Last modified: September 04, 2014

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