- On October 22, 2021
Legal interviews have so many rounds and ask so many questions of the interviewee. You should be asking questions too! This article by The Ladders gives great guidance on what to ask (and how to ask) before, during, and after interviews.
- Before the interview, prepare a list of questions for the interviewer. During the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions, and if you don’t, you can get dinged for that (due to your lack of preparation and courtesy). Some sample/very normal questions the article suggests: Who are the people I’d work most closely to in this position? What skill will I need to use the most in this role? What continues to be the biggest challenge in this position? (Even better questions show you have done your research. See here for guidance.)
- During the interview, you can ask tough questions but soften them first so they will be well-received and not taken as criticism. Don’t ask “What’s turnover like in this position?” Instead, ask “How long do people stay in this position, and where do people typically go when they grow out of the position?” The Ladders article suggests adding a sentence or two upfront about yourself before asking the question so the interviewer can understand why you are asking. For example, “I like the interpersonal nature of my career. Can you talk to me about the people I’d be working most closely with?”
- After the interview & offer. Only after you’ve received an offer should you ask specific questions about the comp package, benefits, bonus cycle, typical hours, etc. If it’s a sensitive question, I would again include some explanation why you are asking, e.g., you just bought a house so you need to find out when bonuses are paid and how they are calculated. Some lawyers think these comp questions are gating items and ask them early so they don’t want to waste anyone’s time if comp is not met. My response is employers can become flexible on compensation after they fall in love with a candidate, so if you cut the process short, that will never happen. Also, think of the process as building relationships and learning what is market, not wasting time.
- After you receive the offer, you can also ask to meet other members of the team. You can learn more about their business or culture, and most employers will be happy to accommodate this request (and it’s not a good sign if they won’t do it).
- At the end of the process, if you are debating whether to accept, ask yourself a couple questions. First, ask how you would grow at the company. If you can tell already that you’d be capped, think hard about taking the job. Second, ask how the job would impact your life beyond pay. Do a little diligence to avoid burnout or bad fit, even if the pay is good.