Sample Interview Questions & Topics

The below lists consist of common questions and subjects that are covered during interviews for jobs and internships. Use these lists only as a reference to prepare for interviews, and be aware that interviewers may ask very different questions.

 

  • What qualities do you believe will make you a successful lawyer?
  • How would you describe the ideal summer job?
  • Tell me about your participation on the journal/in your clinical program. Describe your thesis/research project/note further. (Listen for analytical skills, interest in writing, etc.)
  • What skills have you developed as a result of your experience?
  • What goals have you set for yourself? How are you planning to achieve them?
  • Tell me how your supervisor from your summer internship would describe you.
  • What was the most useful criticism you ever received, and who was it from?
  • Describe the project or situation that best demonstrated your analytical skills.
  • Tell me about an idea you have developed and implemented that was particularly creative or innovative?
  • Why did you choose the extracurricular activities you did? What did you gain? What did you contribute?
  • What specialization of law are you interested in?
  • What is your working experience?
  • What did you do in your legal internship?
  • Family background
  • GPA in undergraduate school and graduate school
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Tell me about your professional goals.
  • Tell me about your experience as a lawyer.
  • What interests you in this law firm/organization?
  • Tell me about your ties to this geographic area.
  • What do you want to know about our law firm?
  • What was your favorite course during law school/undergraduate?

 

"Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams" by Kimm Walton

Tough Interview Questions:
Questions that Show Off Your Preparation for the Interview:
  • Tell me about yourself?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What are your strengths?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What will you be doing 5 (or 10) years from now?
  • Why aren't your grades better?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • Why did you go to law school?
  • Why did you choose this school?
  • Why do you want to work in this city?
  • Who else are you interviewing with?
  • Hypothetical questions (e.g., what would you do if, etc.)
  • What's the biggest mistake you ever made?
  • What kind of salary are you looking for?
  • How do you like law school?
  • "Philosophy"; questions (e.g., if you were a tree...)
  • Illegal questions
  • Who'll assign my work?
  • What will a typical day be like for me?
  • Will I get feedback on my work?
  • What kinds of cases will I work on?
  • What kind of work will I do?
  • How does someone become a star - what makes them stand out?
  • Ask questions appropriate to the age of the interviewer the size of the law firm.


"The Essential Book of Interviewing" by Arnold Kanter

Difficult Interview Questions: Good Questions for Interviewers to Ask About Previous Job Experience: Questions an Interviewee Should Consider Asking:
  • What makes you special among so many qualified applicants?
  • What's the best course you've taken in law school and why?
  • What can I tell you about the law firm?
  • How did you get your job?
  • What were your expectations about the job?
  • In what ways were those expectations met, disappointed, or exceeded?
  • What were your responsibilities?
  • What did you like/find satisfying about the job?
  • Why did you like that?
  • What did you dislike/find frustrating about the job?
  • Why did you dislike that/how did you deal with the frustration?
  • Did you run into any difficult or stressful situations?
  • How did you deal with those situations?
  • How would you describe the people who supervised you?
  • What did you learn from the job that will stay with you?
  • If you had to do over again, what would you do differently in that job experience?
  • What will my duties be?
  • With whom will I work?
  • To whom will I report?
  • How will my performance be evaluated?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement?
  • Where have the people who left the position I am interviewing for gone?
  • What are the three most important goals of the company?
  • What are the three most important goals of the person to whom I will report?
  • What is the most important thing to you personally about the company?
  • What characteristics does it take to succeed in this position?
  • What characteristics cause people to fail in this position?
  • What are the two or three greatest challenges the company faces in the next year?


Peeking Into the Interviewer's Mind

Question #1: Do you have the skills and background to do the job? (This most fundamental question will be asked of you in a variety of ways including:) Question 2: Are you willing to do the job? (You will need to explain how the job fits into your overall career plans and how will continue to grow with and within in the organizations.) Question 3: Will you fit into the firm's organizations culture? (The answer to this question is often interpreted by the interviewer based on instinct as well as either a conscious or subconscious effort to determine how your personality may or may not gel with management, various personalities in the workplace, the firm's culture and the pace of the office.)
  • Tell me about yourself?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • How will you contribute to this firm/organization?
  • What subjects did you like best in law school and why?
  • Do you think your grades are a good indication of your ability to practice law?
  • What do you consider your greatest accomplishments?
  • Why are you applying to our firm?
  • What do you consider to be your greatest weakness?
  • What are your long range and short range career goals?
  • Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  • What did you like and dislike about your previous job?
  • Why did you leave your previous job?
  • Do you consider yourself to be a flexible person?
  • Give me an example of a difficult person with whom you have had to work and tell me how you dealt with him/her.
  • When did you fail to achieve a goal you set?
  • What do you think it takes to be successful in an organization such as ours?
  • What motivates you to put forth your best effort?
  • In what kind of environment are you most comfortable?
  • Describe how you handle conflict that arises?
  • How do you think a professor who knows you well would describe you?


Office of Career & Professional Development • American University Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 122 Washington, DC 20016 • 202-274-4090 F: 202-274-4096