When it comes to legal interview questions you should ask professionals who apply with your law firm or company, it’s easy to be so dazzled by functional skills in the resume that you forget to ask, "How will the candidate fit into our work environment?"
Though you obviously want to hire someone with all the required degrees, legal experience and soft skills, it’s also essential to craft legal interview questions that will help you assess how well the person will click with your law firm or company's culture.
After all, your corporate culture — the day-to-day attitudes, values and decisions that drive your team — is the heart of your organization. Candidates who don't share your overall business philosophy will probably struggle to thrive in your workplace.
These four critical legal interview questions can help you determine whether you've found the right candidate fit for your work environment:
1. Why do you want to work for our law firm?
Legal interview questions like this one will help you determine whether candidates have thoroughly researched your organization and, thus, whether they are likely to understand your workplace culture. Candidates’ answers can also reveal whether they understand what they’re getting into by choosing to join your firm. For example, do they know what types of cases your firm handles, and does this type of work inspire them? Will they thrive in a fast-paced, hard-charging firm like yours? Are they OK with working long hours to get the job done? If your organization works at a slower pace, will a candidate fit in well working at that tempo? If your firm is team-oriented, are they motivated by working with a team setting? Or do they prefer to work autonomously? All of these factors will determine whether or not candidates will succeed in your firm’s work environment.
2. What motivates you to come to work every day?
This question will give you a glimpse into what makes candidates tick. Are the people answering your legal interview questions motivated by money alone, or also inspired by helping others? Are they driven by their desire to climb the legal ladder as quickly as possible, or are they focused on gaining experience in specific practice areas? Does workplace competition motivate or discourage them? Do they enjoy building relationships with clients, or are they passionate about problem-solving? When you understand what drives candidates, you’ll be in a better position to determine whether they fit into your work environment.
Here are three legal interview questions that take a different approach.
3. How would you describe your work style?
Some legal professionals are most productive when they work independently, and others work better when they’re part of a team. Will a candidate fit in with your workplace culture if they prefer face-to-face communication with clients and colleagues? How about those who like to take their time to carefully gathering their thoughts and then sending an email. Certain legal professionals enjoy loosely structured, lighthearted brainstorming sessions with the team, but others are more comfortable with more formal, well-organized meetings. Use the candidate’s response to assess how well the person would fit in with the way your current staff and clients work.
4. Do you have any questions about our office culture?
You've listened and assessed candidate fit for your workplace, but what about them? If you have not already provided candidates with a description of your work environment, now is the time to tell them more about your firm’s core values, work style and goals. Your legal interview questions should give candidates an opportunity to evaluate whether or not your company or law firm is a good match. Sometimes, just the applicant’s reactions to your description of the firm’s culture will be a clear indicator as to whether or not they’re a fit for your firm.
Find more advice on hiring for your work environment in the Robert Half Legal Salary Guide.