What to do When it is Your Turn to Ask Questions

February 6, 2017 Legal Industry News

When interviewing with a potential employer, you are assessing them just as much as they are assessing you.

Most interviews conclude with the interviewer giving you an opportunity to present them with any questions you may have. A thoughtful question helps convey that you genuinely want to join the team—but sometimes you really have no questions in mind and don’t want to ask a generic stock question that you know your interviewer has already answered a hundred times before.

Do not shut this opportunity to demonstrate your preparedness, confidence, and non-desperation.

Here are some ideas to get you started on preparing thoughtful questions for those moments:

I am curious—what’s your best moment so far here?

This is a simple question that conveys curiosity and that can also provide you with great insight on the interviewer’s values, the firm’s culture, and how you might fit in. Additionally, you end the interview with your interviewer’s fondest memory that can now be associated with your candidacy. If your interviewer cannot come up with a single meaningful memory, that should serve as a red flag.

Do you have any hesitations or questions regarding my experiences or qualifications?

This might seem like a bold ask (what if they say “yes”?), but it gives you an opportunity to address, clarify, or explain potential issues in person. Otherwise, whatever gives your interviewer pause will be passed on and factored into your candidacy. If it has become obvious what the hesitation might be over the course of the interview, consider taking the initiative to address and explain it then (“I briefly touched on the two year gap on my resume, and just wanted to clarify again that despite having to…I remained engaged with my practice by developing a secondary expertise in…”).

How long has this position been vacant? (or—What gave rise to this new position?)

Learning that the position you are seeking has been empty for ten months should give you pause—what deterred other candidates from filling this role or possibly accepting the offer? If the position has opened as a result of a crisis, why isn’t anyone from within the firm stepping into that role? This is a fair question (and if the question makes your interviewer squirm, you know there’s more to the story); and the question gives you an idea of what is expected of you and informs you of the firm’s view of its retention rate.

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