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6 Most Dreaded Interview Questions For Lawyers And Law Students and How To Answer Them

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Interviews are something everyone dreads. Even law students and lawyers who are presumed to be silver-tongued may find themselves tongue-tied when on the interview hot seat. One wrong answer to an interviewers question could just be the reason why a candidate was refused a job offer. It doesn’t help that much that job applicants are not informed by their interviewers of the possible questions to expect at an interview and prepare well in advance. Below are a list of the 6 interview questions lawyers dread when interviewing at law firms which anyone planning for their next interview would find immensely helpful.

(1) What are three adjectives to describe you?

What interviewers are looking for when they blindside you with this kind of question is not necessarily how glowing your description of yourself might be. It’s a test of your honesty. They want to know if you’d honest enough to mention your good aspects as well as your vulnerabilities. You might start by telling them three adjectives that accurately describe you. Just think of anything about yourself or ask someone close to tell you what they think of you. It could be “I’m persistent, creative and a procrastinator”. Yep, they may ask you what you are doing in the interim to remedy your bad aspects. You can then tell them “I’m doing so and so…to fix it.”

(2) What is your biggest weakness?

As a job candidate, you’ll almost certainly expect a question like the one above to be in the running for the most absurd job interview question of the century. It seems pointless too, to think in the least bit, that a job candidate would ever make the slip of telling their interviewer the chink in their seemingly flawless armor, especially when it could be held against them. But it’s quite the contrary! No interviewer expects you to be perfect as we are all flawed one way or the other. Usually, this question is intended to see what you consider a weakness and what you’ve done to improve yourself. Don’t ever feel shy to reveal your Achilles heel to them. It’s a test of your honesty more than anything else.

(3) Where do you plan to be in five years?

This question could be simplified into this; what kind of lawyer do you want to be?

Where do you want to take your career? If you desire to be a rising star at the place you are interviewing, then say so. If you don’t know be honest enough to say so but you can still go on to say that you know you would like to start your legal career with this firm. If you’re still wondering what the actual logic is behind this questions, then maybe we can demystify it together. Now here’s the deal; the company you are interviewing at would obviously be investing a lot of time, energy, and resources into you should they hire you. And no firm wants to be a stepping stone, to invest all of those things on someone who would be just bidding their time at the job waiting for the next best offer that comes along. Not even you! So if you’ve got plans of changing horses in mid-stream, it would be best to hold your cards very close to your chest. Don’t make the mistake of telling the interviewer you have plans of leaving the job for something better down the line. In answering this question, you have to show them you see the job as being part of your long-term career goal and you’d be truly motivated to give it your best to realize that goal. There’s nothing wrong if you are ambitious, but ensure your answer indicates you’ll still be with the firm, vying for its top positions 5-years on, even if you see yourself being elsewhere.

(4) Describe a challenge that you overcame and how you overcame it?

It’s an opportunity to show the interviewer your vulnerabilities, reflect and tell the interviewer an adversity you’ve overcome in the past. Let it be something

A little story that tells of your ability to thrive in stressful and emotionally difficult situations.

(5) Why should I hire you?

At this point speak of your strengths, what you are bringing to the table and emphasize genuinely that you want the job. But never compare yourself with the other job candidates – it would be plain rude and unprofessional to do so.

(6) What is your desired Salary?

Yep, you heard the question loud and clear and it always surfaces during any interview. And if you show up for any interview without having answered it in advance, you might well get stumped. Obviously interviewers and HR professionals would want to know if they can afford your services, so they might sound you out on what you are willing to charge for your services. Of course it’s tempting to just give them any figure and hope they’ll accept or renegotiate if it’s not in their price range. But this question is a whole lot trickier than it appears – or more like being between the devil and deep blue sea. If as a job candidate, you become too desperate to get the job and give the interviewer a less-than-desired salary expectation or any amount lower than you are actually worth, it might send them the wrong message that you are not the most qualified candidate (plus you don’t value your work) for being too cheap. And if, on the other hand, you respond with a rather mammoth figure for a starting salary, it could turn out to be an amount that is beyond what they are willing to pay for the position and this could be the reason why you don’t get the job. What can you do then? Know your worth beforehand and be confident enough to ask for what you deserve. Do not ever sell yourself short or you’ll regret it even after getting the job.

In this particular case, it might be best to do your research to know how much you are worth and what are other firms pay for professionals with your skills and background. Also look at the market salary range for the position vis-à-vis your geographical location and your level of experience among other things. And lastly, if you could also give them a salary range and hope that they’ll polite enough to offer you an amount that’s above the lowest range.

Patrick Herbert is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Law Student Hub. He is an LL.B. Law graduate from the University of Benin, Nigeria. He's a life enthusiast, a budding writer and internet entrepreneur. Patrick is deeply passionate about law and research and has inspired many with his thought-provoking articles. To get in touch, follow him on social media.

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