What questions could you be asked in an interview?

Describe a time when you felt unprepared for an interview.

What do you think went wrong?

What could have been improved?

If you ever feel as though no amount of research or rehearsals can prepare you for answering questions in an interview setting, you’re not alone. In truth, it’s impossible to know exactly what an employer will ask you during the interview process, and providing a well-formed, intelligent response that positions you as the best candidate can be difficult to do when given mere seconds to respond.

Even if you have anticipated a number of questions surrounding the firm in particular, there could be a host of subsequent questions that will arise from your responses, not to mention maths and logic puzzles, questions designed to trick you or the kooky conundrums employers ask to distract you (“If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you and why?”)

The environment alone can be enough to throw you off balance if you feel uncomfortable or intimidated.

Luckily, many employers stick to a basic framework when it comes to interview questions. In the legal sector, these typically concern your motivation for working in the law, your understanding of the role and the skills and experience you will bring to the firm if successful. Generally speaking, the interview will be designed to cover a number of key topics:

Your career ambitions

These will allow you to demonstrate your commitment, highlight your professional goals and illustrate how this role will assist you in achieving them. Your interviewer may ask:

  • Why did you apply for the role?
  • Have you applied for any other jobs?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
  • Why do you think you are suited to a career in law?

Your skills, competencies and experience

Questions surrounding your professional experience in similar roles are to be expected, but it isn’t a simple case of listing off your past employers. This is a chance for you to paint a picture of your journey and the valuable skills you have acquired along the way. Questions might include:

  • Why are you the best person for the job?
  • What can you contribute to this company?
  • Describe a time your workload was heavy and how you handled it.
  • How will your greatest strength help you perform?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • Describe a challenging situation you faced with a client and how you overcame it.
  • What motivates you?

Your commercial awareness

The legal industry is undergoing a transformation, and understanding the market in which you will be operating will be critical in keeping ahead of the curve and best advising your clients. In relation to the current political climate, you can expect questions such as:

  • What is the biggest challenge facing the legal market currently?
  • What impact will Brexit have on the sector?
  • What stories in the business press have interested you recently?

Your knowledge of the firm

It’s not unusual for an employer to question the interest of an applicant: it helps them to decipher who is genuinely passionate about the role and who has blindly sent CVs to firms in all directions. If you’re eager to get the job, it’s essential to prepare your answers for questions such as these:

  • What attracted you to the firm in particular?
  • What can you tell us about our values?
  • Who are our main competitors?
  • What are our strongest practice areas?

While this list may not be exhaustive, it can certainly act as a good starting point for your interview preparation. Don’t be afraid to have a friend or consultant in the legal profession – after all, practice makes perfect.