Attorney / Lawyer Job Interview
After you have created the perfect resume and cover letter, you need to get ready for the potential meeting that will logically come next. This first face-to-face consultation with the employer has to go well if you want to be seen as a great applicant. The way you answer questions, what you wear and how you act should all work together to highlight what makes you right for the job.
Preparing for an Interview
Preparing for an interview can be really stressful. There are a lot of questions that the hiring manager can ask about your capabilities, and if you aren’t prepared you might not give a good answer. Attorney interview questions and answers are no different than any other interview questions and answers.
The only way you can really prepare for an interview is to practice answering questions. There are a lot of tools that you can use. There are books and online articles that go over best practices to use during an interview. Before you go into an interview for an attorney position you need to look at questions commonly asked and how you should answer them.
Questions can usually be divided into five general areas.
- Questions relating to how you view your career.
- Questions relating to law.
- Questions relating to your skills and competencies.
- Questions relating to commercial awareness.
- Questions designed to test your ability to deal with unexpected or tricky issues.
What the Interviewer Wants from Your Answers
You need to know what a potential employer is looking for when they ask these common questions. You know that an interview is meant to help the interviewer figure out if you would be a good fit in their firm. That means that they want to know if you are competent and what your values are. Do you match what the firm needs?
In order to put your best foot forward, you need to look at what sort of answers a hiring manager is looking for from the below mentioned questions:
- When you get asked why you think you will succeed as an attorney, you might feel it is a negative question. Really, it is a chance for you to talk about what motivates you to be successful. You can talk about your expertise, and what made you want to be a lawyer. Do clients motivate you or is there something else?
- You want to give a brief but thorough answer when asked about your toughest case. Even if you haven’t had a case on your own, you still want to be ready to answer this type of question. The hiring manager is going to look for your involvement with clients, what motivates you to perform well in specific instances and how you learn from tough, potentially bad situations.
- Whenever you get asked about a specific scenario, the interviewer is trying to figure out how you would handle an odd or stressful situation. Would you be able to tactfully help a client who you are unfamiliar with? Would you be a good face for the firm?
- When you get asked about how you manage and recognize stress, the hiring manager is trying to ascertain if you will be able to last as an attorney. It is a stressful job, and if you’re in it for the wrong reasons it may not go well.
Common Questions and Sample Answers
What qualities do you think a good attorney should have?
I think a good attorney needs to be able to analyze different situations, solve complex problems and communicate clearly. These are three of the most important skills an attorney should have. The analytical and problem-solving skills are used on a daily basis to help clients solve their issues, research cases and create solid defense strategies. Communication is obviously important for an attorney because of the need to communicate with the jury, client and judge. I’m really proud of my ability to create trusting relationships with my clients, and this ability allows me to get an entirely different sense of worth out of my career.
What type of law career are you hoping to have and how will this position help you?
As you can see on my resume, I have some experience in the corporate law world, but my heart has always been in environmental law. I know this job may not be glamourous, but I see it as a great step toward the environmental lawyer career I have always wanted. This company is well known for its foray into environmental law, so I am excited to get a chance to work in the company even if it is in a different sector.
How would you go about building a relationship with your clients?
Every client-attorney relationship, in my opinion, has to be built on mutual respect. I have to get my client to trust me and my skills enough to answer my questions with complete honesty. Many legal cases require the client to share personal information. I build this respectful and trusting relationship by being friendly, patient and understanding. The process of building a relationship may take a while, but it is so rewarding when it happens.
As an attorney, you will need to deal with clients in a way that makes them feel comfortable disclosing personal and often uncomfortable information with you. How do you plan on maintaining your professionalism?
I understand that being in the law profession means professionalism comes first and foremost. As an attorney, I would ensure that every client felt that the information they were disclosing to me was heard, respected, and used in a way that would only be of benefit to him or her. In my former position as a paralegal, I observed the interpersonal skills of the various attorneys in the firm and could see first-hand what a difference that made in the successful relationships with their clients.
Which experiences from your previous jobs have allowed you to hone your problem-solving skills in a way that will benefit you in this position?
As a paralegal, it was often my responsibility to ensure that things ran as smoothly as possible in the firm. We’d encounter problems on a daily basis, whether that was a problem with one of the cases or a technological difficulty such as the computer systems going down. It was my duty to use a calm and logical thought process to help solve these issues effectively.
Do you feel confident in your logic skills? Provide a clear example.
I feel quite confident in my ability to think logically, and I also look forward to future opportunities where I can further hone this skill. As a paralegal, I was often asked to follow an appellate court’s logic so that I could accurately prepare a brief or work through a legal issue. I also find the process of using logic to follow an opposing party’s argument. I find this way of thinking to be a vital part to my successful career as an attorney.
As an attorney, you will be faced with long and difficult work hours. How do you plan on balancing a healthy work and personal life with this demanding career?
Since my studies as an undergraduate, I have been faced with the challenge of time management, and it is one that I have met well. While I am in the office, I plan on dedicating my time solely on the work in front of me, limiting distractions and leaving my personal life behind as best I can. In this manner, I hope to eliminate any unnecessary time spent in the office and on the clock; however, I will eagerly work overtime if a case or responsibility should call for it. I also understand that I am particularly effective in the workplace if I lead a balanced life and do have time carved out for myself. Therefore, I plan to honor this time and ask for it when appropriate or necessary for the wellbeing of myself and my career.