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by Mary Kate Sheridan | August 27, 2018


Photo by  mentatdgt via Pexels

Preparing for a law firm call-back or lateral interview can be nerve-racking, especially if you’re the type who tries to guess the questions a firm will ask. Of course, it is impossible to know the exact roadmap for your interview, but you certainly can prepare for some typical legal interview questions, such as

  • Why this firm?
  • Why are you interested in this specific practice area?
  • Why did you go to law school?
  • What is your favorite class in law school?
  • What are your connections to this city?

But as any good attorney will tell you, you should ways prepare for the unexpected. Some firms have branched out and use behavioral questions while other firms engage candidates in legal analysis. Practicing responses to a wide variety of questions as you prepare for your interview is ideal.

While we can’t provide a call-back crystal ball, we can offer some insight into the array of questions firms may ask. We took a look at Vault’s Annual Associate Survey to find some of the more interesting interview questions law firms have been asking. Below are 14 of the most unique law firm interview questions shared by associates at Vault Law 100 firms in this year’s survey:

  1. "What is your life motto?"
  2. “How do you handle an assignment when you hit a road block or don't know what to do next?”
  3. “How will you complement our firm's culture?”
  4. “Describe a situation where you were asked to do something unethical. How did you respond?”
  5. “What do you do with your spare time?”
  6. “How do you set goals, and how do you go about achieving them?”
  7. “What do you do when you don't have enough time to complete all the tasks you have?”
  8. “Do you like to work in teams or alone?”
  9. “Please provide an example of a time where you had two things that were due on a deadline, and you could only complete one in time and what you did in response to that situation.”
  10. “What books are you currently reading?”
  11. “Can you describe a time when you were forced to work with someone you did not necessarily get along with and how you were able to work with them?”
  12. “Tell me about a time you disagreed with a supervisor and how you worked to resolve it.”
  13. “How comfortable are you with business development?”
  14. “What is one thing you'd like us to know that's not on your papers (e.g., writing sample, resume, cover letter)?”

While there is no guarantee you will face any particular interview question, trying your hand at a wide variety of practice questions can better prepare you for interview day. The more you practice, the more at ease you will be thinking on your feet during the real interview.

But, those interviewing for an associate spot shouldn’t focus solely on questions. Sometimes, it’s more important to prepare for the broader conversation than an interrogation.

As one responder to the annual survey shared: “In an ideal world, a screener or callback interview will have few actual questions. The interviewers are looking to have a conversation—honestly, about any area where the interviewer and interviewee click. This could be law-related, about current events, or about things like “Harry Potter.” The key is to be friendly and interesting—as is the key in life, really. If you find an interviewer simply asking you a list of questions, you're either not building a relationship with that interviewer that is going to be particularly helpful, or you got a lemon of an interviewer.”

To read more about your target firm's hiring criteria and interview questions, check out its Vault profile.