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?” Asking thoughtful questions shows you can think critically and it will also provide you with additional insight into the position, which can help you determine if it's a good fit for your personality and experience.
Whatever career you're seeking in the legal field—whether you're applying to be a litigation support professional, paralegal, legal assistant, legal secretary, receptionist, law clerk, or court runner—you should have some questions prepared prior to being interviewed. Here is a list of things to ask and others to avoid.
What Important Things Should I Know About This Job?
Asking this question will give you insight into the position and what the expectations might be right off the bat. Taking note of the answer, you should have a clear idea of what things you can focus on specifically to do the best job possible and what aspects of the position may be less important.
What Are the Biggest Challenges of This Job?
Every job has its hurdles. Knowing what they are ahead of time will give you a chance to consider what problem-solving techniques you can employ in advance. You can follow this query up by asking how these challenges were faced in the past and how successful the solutions were. The more input and information you have, the less challenging those hurdles will be to overcome when you encounter them.
What Is a Typical Day Like?
The answer to this question 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 determine if the job is something you'd enjoy doing.
How Is Work Assigned?
This question can yield insights into the culture of the organization and the degree of autonomy you’d exercise over your career. It should also shed light on your role in the office environment as it relates to your workflow. Is the position interpersonal, where you and your colleagues attend face-to-face meetings with to report on the progress of assignments, or is it a role where you will be expected to do research and complete tasks independently and then communicate mostly via email?
What Sort of Person Is Likely to Succeed Here?
This is a question shows that you're a conscientious applicant. You can also phrase it as, “What skills and traits are you looking for in a new hire?” You may get platitudes in response, but there's also a chance that the person interviewing may be able to give an honest answer that lets you know if gauge if your skillset is a match. If so, you can highlight how you'd fit into the organization and maybe the interviewer will subconsciously associate you with those desired traits.
What Are the Prospects for Growth and Advancement?
This question shows that you're ambitious and have an eye toward the future, that you consider the position as more of a career opportunity rather than just a job. The answer may indicate what things you can do to be proactive in moving forward in your career path. Perhaps there are additional classes you can take or certification you can acquire. You can also ask if promotions have been made from within in the past, and if so, what did the people in those positions do to be considered? What was the time frame?
Questions to Avoid Asking an Interviewer
Just like there are questions you can ask to help shape the impression the person interviewing you gets of your personality and value, there are questions you can ask that can quickly derail a good interview. Here are some queries to avoid.
- 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.