Common Lawyer Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Lawyer interview questions are generally unique among other kinds of interviews. The interviewer could be a partner with the law firm with no formal interviewing training, or they could be an HR specialist who concentrates on non-legal lines of questioning. Knowing the potential kinds of interview questions your interviewer may ask can help you prepare to share your main talking points and strengths, regardless of the kind of interviewer you have. In this article, we discuss the genres of interview questions for lawyers and provide some sample questions and answers you can reference when preparing your own responses.

Related: Common Law Interview Questions and Sample Answers

Interview questions for lawyers

The type of lawyer interview questions a hiring manager asks you can depend on your previous experience and the person who's interviewing you. For example, if another lawyer is conducting the interview, they may focus on your legal experience and your area of legal expertise, while an HR representative may ask more personality-gauging questions to determine if you're a good fit for the team.

The following lists are the potential genres of questions that an interviewer may ask a lawyer candidate. Remember that any kind of law firm interviewer may ask these questions, despite their background. For example, a legal partner may still ask personality-gauging questions and an HR representative may still ask about your legal experience. it may be helpful to prepare for all different types of questions. Here are some of the different types of questions you may see, with example questions and sample responses:

Personality-gauging questions

Personality-gauging questions are typical components of any interview, but lawyer interviewers may ask them for unique reasons. A lawyer may commonly interact with their clients to offer legal advice or speak on their behalf in court, so the position may necessitate a certain kind of personality that is charismatic, commanding, detail-oriented and empathetic. Here are examples of some of those kinds of questions, with potential answers:

How do you get things done?

Personality questions tend to be open to interpretation so you can showcase your subjective take on them. This question, for example, could lead you to discuss your soft skill set. You could discuss your time management skills and your ability to manage multiple tasks at once, or you could share an anecdote relating to a case you handled. You could also view this question from a more technical perspective instead, and offer examples of research you have done in preparation for a client.

Example: 'I like to conduct thorough research about a case before I make a detailed strategy. A client just recently hired me to represent them in a case where they drove their car into their neighbour's pool, so I started researching zoning laws to determine if the neighbour was legally allowed to build a pool in that area. This research helped me find out that the neighbour was supposed to have a fence around their pool, which helped me win the case for my client.'

What would your peers say about you?

This question asks you to think about other professionals' perspectives on your work and behaviour. The interviewer may be asking you to reflect on yourself and express which attributes are your strengths and which ones you could improve. You could take this opportunity to honestly consider your strengths and weaknesses.

Example: 'My peers would likely commend my excellent time management skills. I was commonly finishing my client prep days before the client's appointment, and so I would reach out to my fellow partners and ask if they needed any help collecting additional research for their case. They may also say that I can be quite competitive. I'm proud of my work, but I try to always ensure that my competition and desire to succeed does not affect my relationships with my colleagues or clients.'

If you did not have to work, what would you do?

This question targets your personal drive and your desires beyond work. You could discuss the passion that led you to this profession in the first place, such as your desire to right wrongs or your commitment to justice. The interviewer may want to know what motivates you.

Example: 'I would offer my experienced perspective on the legal system to any person that asked for it. The pursuit of justice is more important to me than the paycheck, and even if it wasn't for pay, I would commit my life to correcting wrongs in the world. I would like to complete some volunteer work or perhaps work for a non-profit, managing their legal matters.'

How do you respond under stress?

Your interviewer may be interested in hearing how you cope with a large workload and tight deadlines. A partner in a law firm may take on multiple cases at once, depending on the number of clients the law firm is currently representing. If you have handled multiple cases at once, you could share your experience with successful multi-tasking. You may also take this opportunity to be honest about your work style, and how much work you can complete in a given time frame.

Example: ' I appreciate having multiple tasks to complete at once, so if I feel stifled while researching for one case, I can switch and continue progressing with another case. I once worked on three cases at the same time, which is my limit. I give each case my full attention while I'm working on it, so my process is extremely thorough but time-consuming.'

Competency-based questions

Unlike personality-based questions, competency-based questions typically have more objective answers. The interviewer may want to hear the results of your work, what prior training you have received, what you bring to the position and what your legal experience encompasses. The following are competency questions that an interviewer may ask in a lawyer interview:

What prior legal training have you received?

Your interviewer may be interested in your work experience and educational background. If you specialise in certain kinds of cases, you could take this opportunity to explain where you first gained this expertise.

Example: 'I studied motor vehicle law for four years at Greenview University, and in my previous position, I primarily accepted cases in this particular field. I have never lost a case on this subject, and I believe my credentials explain why.'

What is your greatest achievement in this field?

The interviewer may want to hear about an exceptional success you have had in your prior experience as a lawyer. You can offer a relevant anecdote on a particular case or subject that you feel you handled excellently.

Example: 'In 2017, I represented a family who was in court because their dog bit a passerby, and they wanted compensation. During my research, I discovered video evidence of that person trying to break into the family's house, and the dog stopped them. I followed up by contacting the grocery store next door and requesting their video cameras, and so I was able to win the case and help my clients.'

Do you have experience managing a legal branch?

If you're joining a law firm that may expand into multiple branches in the future, the interviewer may want to hear about your prior management experience. If you have taken charge of a legal team or managed a business of your own in the past, offer it as evidence to support your claim of management experience. If you do not have management experience, highlight your potential to grow into such a position.

Example: 'At my previous position, I managed a team of five legal professionals that protected the rights of a local retail shop purchase surrounding houses and incorporate them into the shop. I delegated the legal tasks to my associates and managed public relations on the project. Here are the names and numbers of those associates as references.'

Would you be willing to move into other areas of law?

Your potential employer may require different expertise than what you brought with you to the interview. You can take this opportunity to showcase your fast learning and your flexibility to make you a more attractive candidate. Alternatively, you may want to be honest about your preference to focus on your expertise if that is where you do your best work.

Example: 'In my prior work experience, I have educated myself on a broad range of legal topics to meet the needs of my clients. I initially came to the position with automotive accident experience, but I have recently begun working on more family law cases. I would be willing to complete more training and move into other specialisations if needed for the firm.'

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