1 COMMONLY ASKED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS & STRATEGIES TO ANSWER THEM Office f Career & Prfessinal Develpment 2014, UC Hastings Cllege f the Law The fllwing are examples f the mst cmmn interview questins. Speak with a career cunselr abut the best ways t answer these and ther questins. Remember: Keep it shrt: Yur answers shuld be between secnds each. Every questin is really, Why shuld we hire yu? S cntinue t answer that questin in every questin the emplyer asks. Tell a Stry: Every answer shuld highlight yur skills and be backed up by a stry. Be Passinate/Excited: Yur energy and tne cunt fr as much as yur actual wrds. Relax and have fun: If yu get the jb, yu will be spending a lt f time with these peple, s let them see yur true (prfessinal) persnality. TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF Keep it brief. Keep yur answer shrt and relevant t the jb. Tell a stry that highlights skills yu bring t the jb. Talk abut yur backgrund and experience. Relate yur backgrund /experience t this jb (as ppsed t mre generally). Start with smething interesting abut yur backgrund, but tie it t yur interest in this emplyer, this wrk, this lcatin, r law schl, etc. Quickly. WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS? Pick a jb-related skill (nt smething yu d fr fun.) Strengths fr litigatin culd include ral advcacy, ability t think n yur feet, wrk under pressure, negtiate effectively and advcate cnfidently and assertively. Strengths fr transactinal law culd include detail-rientatin, writing, analytical ability, and negtiating. Strengths fr direct services culd include peple skills, interviewing, negtiating, and demnstrated cmmitment t the missin. WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES? Answer the questin. We all have flaws. Answering well shws self-awareness. Talk abut a weakness yu have remedied r are in the prcess f crrecting. Or, cme up with a weakness that is actually a strength in this jb. Mst weaknesses in mderatin are strengths. Fr example, a perfectinist in mderatin is smene wh is detail riented. Spin yur weakness int a strength by discussing hw yu are mderating yur behavir. 1
2 Keep it jb-related! If yu pick a persnality trait, yu run the risk f nt fitting in with the emplyer r their clients. CAN YOU EXPLAIN YOUR GRADES? This is a pressure questin. S relax and answer with cnfidence. Address the questin, but get t the psitive quickly. Yu can admit that yur grades are nt what yu d hped, but cntinue with smething psitive, like wrk perfrmance, awards, etc. If yur grades imprved ver time, pint that ut. If yur grades in relevant curses were high, mentin hw well yu did in thse curses. The implicatin may be that if yu have pr grades, yu wuld nt perfrm well in this jb. Rebut that premise! Shw yu can d the jb. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? Demnstrate that yu are cmmitted t the kind f wrk fr which yu are applying. The emplyer wants t knw yu will stick arund. Emplyers want t knw if they invest in yu fr the summer, yu ll be arund later. Shw that yu are interested in the wrk the emplyer des, cmmitted t staying in the area, and lking fr career grwth. WHAT SETS YOU APART FROM OTHERS WE ARE INTERVIEWING? This is an ideal pprtunity t market yurself! Decide which f yur tp skills and attributes fit this psitin and present them t the interviewer. Tell stries t back up yur skills. Fr example, a small business litigatin firm lks fr a self-starter with gd client skills and strng cmmunicatin skills. Give examples f hw yu have develped these skills. WHAT CAN YOU BRING TO THIS ORGANIZATION? Shw yu knw bth the rganizatin and hw yur skills fit that rganizatin s needs. Fr a public interest law jb, the DA, and PD ffices, the interviewer is interested in yur histry f cmmitment t the cause as well as yur lawyering skills. Fr a big firm, fcus n yur skills that best match the rganizatin, and prmte yur academic achievements. WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN OUR ORGANIZATION? D yur hmewrk! Check ut infrmatin in Martindale-Hubbell, NALP frms, n-line searches, newspapers, recent cases, summer surveys, etc. Talk t peple wh knw abut the rganizatin r wh wrked there befre (like 3Ls wh just summered there r Hastings alums wh wrk fr the emplyer.) Then, figure ut why yu want t wrk there and why yu wuld be an asset t them. Things t think abut: reputatin f the rganizatin, practice area, size f the emplyer, gegraphic lcatin, prminent partners r assciates at the firm, interesting cases yu might be invlved with, the nature f the clientele, etc. 2
3 Shw yur enthusiasm fr the rganizatin and the psitin! An interviewer is lking fr genuine excitement abut this pprtunity. Let yur bdy language, facial expressin and tne f vice demnstrate yur interest. IF WE WERE TO CALL YOUR REFERENCES, WHAT WOULD THEY SAY? Highlight yur psitive jb-related skills. If pssible, ask yur references s yu knw exactly what they will say abut yu. Back up yur claims with actual incidents fr which yu were praised. WHY DON T YOU HAVE A JOB ALREADY? r WHY DIDN T YOUR LAST EMPLOYER EXTEND AN OFFER OF EMPLOYMENT? This is a stress questin and an invitatin t get defensive. Instead, be psitive but mst f all dn t blame r say anything negative abut the emplyer. Take respnsibility fr yur actins. If yu did nt receive an ffer f permanent emplyment frm yur summer emplyer, explain why in a tactful way. State the facts. If yu wrked as a crprate summer assciate, it is understandable that in tday s market the firm may nt be hiring crprate assciates because they dn t have the wrk lad fr thse attrneys. Yur tne and cnfidence matter mst in these answers. Emplyers want t see yu cmpsed and cnfident. WHY DO YOU WANT TO WORK IN THIS CITY? Pint ut yur ties, cmmitment, r interest in the particular gegraphic lcatin. Ties culd be family r relatives, hmetwn; grew up in the area, high schl, undergraduate r pst-graduate ties, business r cmmunity ties, r yu lve the area because f its lifestyle, atmsphere, prximity t nature r hbbies yu pursue, etc. If yu never have lived in the area, call peple yu knw in that area t learn abut it. Read abut the area nline and in bks and lcal newspapers. Tell the interviewer abut this backgrund research. Let the interviewer knw that yu are cmmitted t mving, have explred areas t live and have lked int the lifestyle. Bring up aspects f the area yu find interesting. IF YOU WERE AN ANIMAL WHAT WOULD YOU BE? WHAT FIVE PEOPLE WOULD YOU INVITE TO A DINNER PARTY? WHO IS YOUR HERO/HEROINE? IF YOU WERE A TREE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE? There is n right answer, r wrng answer, except n answer at all. This is a test f yur ability t think n yur feet and t play with new ideas. 3
4 Better answers will include traits that yu have r want t have that wrk well in a prfessinal envirnment. Whatever yur answer, explain why yu have chsen that particular persn, bk, animal, tree. WHAT IS THE LATEST MOVIE YOU VE SEEN (OR BOOK YOU VE READ)? This is t get a sense f wh yu are as a persn. If yu can t think f an interesting ne yu ve experienced recently, slightly reframe the questin by saying, I can t immediately recall the last bk I read but I can tell yu what my favrite bk is. ADDITIONAL COMMONLY ASKED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS SELF QUESTIONS Why did yu g t law schl? Hw d yu spend yur free time? What cnstitutes success t yu? In what envirnment d yu wrk best? What tw accmplishments have given yu the mst satisfactin and why? Hw d yu wrk under pressure? What s the biggest mistake yu ve ever made? What qualities d yu think a gd lawyer shuld have? What type f peple d yu wrk best with, and why? Describe hw yu wuld handle a disagreement between yu and yur supervisr abut the directin a case shuld take. CAREER GOAL QUESTIONS Why d yu want t be a lawyer? What is yur ultimate career gal? Hw des this jb fit int thse gals? What are yu lking fr in yur first law jb? What areas f practice are yu interested in? EDUCATION QUESTIONS Have yu enjyed law schl? What curses did yu enjy mst/least, and why? Why did yu chse Hastings? What have yu learned frm participatin n a jurnal r in a clinical prgram? What prfessrs did yu like mst/least? 4
5 WORK EXPERIENCE Did yu get an ffer frm yur last/summer emplyer? If nt, why nt? What didn t yu like abut yur previus jb? Hw did yu like jb? What did yu learn at jb that will help yu in this psitin? THIS EMPLOYER What d yu knw abut ur rganizatin? Why are yu interested in wrking here? Why shuld we hire yu? What kind f salary are yu lking fr? What d yu think will be the hardest part f this jb fr yu? D yu have any questins fr me/us? BEHAVIORAL BASED QUESTIONS Tell me abut a time when These questins are designed n the premise that past perfrmance predicts future perfrmance. Have a stry ready t g abut a time when yu handled a challenging wrk r client situatin successfully, and be sure t tie the experience back int hw yu wuld perfrm well in the jb at hand. SAMPLE QUESTIONS YOU COULD ASK THE EMPLOYER The apprpriateness f the fllwing questins depends n the interviewer/emplyer. This is nt an exhaustive list, just sme suggestins t help yu rganize yur thughts. Wh assigns the wrk lad? Hw is wrk assigned? Wh will versee/supervise my wrk? Are new attrneys assigned t a specific partner r t a department? Hw are new attrneys trained? What kinds f prfessinal develpment activities are encuraged at this rganizatin/firm? Are new attrneys encuraged t attend utside cnferences r training seminars? Hw quickly can I expect t have direct client cntact? Hw many attrneys, in general, wrk n each case? What are the criteria fr advancement? What made yu decide t wrk fr this rganizatin/firm? What keeps yu at this rganizatin/firm? What prjects are yu wrking n right nw? Why d yu enjy this practice area? 5
6 What skills des yur rganizatin/firm lk fr in new assciates? What is this ffice s relatinship t the head ffice? (If yu are interviewing at a branch ffice) In what areas d yu prject grwth? (Gd questin fr the call-back interview.) By when d yu expect t make a decisin? (Always gd t ask at the end f an interview t shw yu are interested in the psitin.) 6
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