Questions to Ask Legal Employers During Interviews

Job Interview
••• Robert Daly/Caiaimage / Getty Images

One of the most stressful aspects of legal job interviews for many applicants is the dreaded moment you're asked, “Do you have any questions for me?” You should be prepared with a question, but what should you ask? Here is a list of sample things to ask and others to avoid. As a general rule, you’ll want to serve up softball questions for your interviewers. Get them talking about themselves and their work, and everyone will be happy.

On a Typical Day, What Type of Things Do You Work On? 

This is a great question for someone at your level to ask. The answer might give you a good sense of the type of work you’ll likely be doing, so you can tailor your responses to make it clear you can handle such work (and so you can figure out if this job is a good fit for your skills and interests). This question is also easy for the interviewer to answer, so they don’t have to work too hard.

What Type of Cases Are You Currently Working On? 

Generally, any lawyer you’re interviewing with should be willing and able to talk about the cases, deals, or projects they’re working on. When you’re running out of things to talk about, this is a great query because you can follow up and ask for more details to kill time: “Oh, you do patent litigation. How did you become interested in this area of law? Do you have a technical background?” 

What Sort of Person Is Likely to Succeed Here? 

This is a question you can ask of almost anyone, and it makes you look like a conscientious applicant. When talking with a senior-level interviewer, you can also phrase it as, “What skills and traits are you looking for in a new hire?” Most likely you’ll get platitudes in response, but hopefully, they’ll subconsciously associate you with those desired traits.

How Is Work Assigned? 

This is a generally safe topic area. As a broad topic, asking about how work is assigned can yield insights into the culture of the organization, and the degree of autonomy you’d exercise over your career.

How Do You Like Working Here? 

While this is not a question you’d ask the leader of the organization, it’s a good question for people around your level. Ask it lightly, though, and don’t be surprised if you get a bland response. Sometimes, however, you’ll be surprised. Either way, the responses will potentially provide you with useful information— although you always have to evaluate the extent to which it applies to your circumstances. 

Questions to Avoid Asking an Interviewer

  • How Much Money Will I Make? If you’re not clear on the salary, ask after you have the offer.
  • How Many Hours Will I Be Required to Work? Although this is a perfectly valid question to ask, hold off asking it until after an offer is made if you’re concerned about it.
  • What Type of Benefits Do You Offer? This is another good one to wait to ask until after an offer is made. 
  • I’ve Heard Bad Things About [Insert Subject]. Can You Address Those Concerns? Lots of rumors circulate about legal employers, and some are even accurate. If you have concerns, address those after you have the offer in hand. Bringing them up in the initial interview phase puts everyone on the defensive and suggests your social skills and judgment may be lacking.