We have continued to see good levels of recruitment activity in Asia. Many companies and major law firms are actively hiring across the region. Early 2021 could be the right moment for you to plan your next career move and get prepared. It is essential to know what kinds of questions to expect so you can prepare for your interview. Law firms’ partners and legal team leaders ask questions to gauge your knowledge of specific fields of law, understand how you balance your caseload/tasks and learn about your processes for interacting with clients and co-workers. To increase your chances of getting a job offer you will need to leave a lasting positive impression on your interviewers, which means giving detailed and accurate answers to questions.
This article provides 17 questions and answers that hiring partners or managers may ask during the interviews.
1. What can you tell me about yourself?”
This is a very open-ended generic question, so it’s up to you to tailor your response, highlighting your core professional strengths.
DO NOT focus on your personal life, other out of work activities, or career / journey education; you NEED TO tailor your responses to highlight specific accomplishments and be sure to keep your professional strengths at the forefront.
When you speak to the legal team members/team managers / senior stakeholders, talk about your experience and core strengths. What value add you can bring to this team? They want to understand how relevant your experience is to this. Also, highlight what your achievements have been. This is the best way to start this answer.
2. Why do you want to move and work for us?
The interviewer wants to know that you want this specific job (and not just any job); that you have a can-do attitude; that you are high energy; that you can make a significant contribution; that you understand their mission and goals; and that you want to be part of that mission.
3. Tell me about your proudest or most significant accomplishments.
Resist the urge to talk about that time you won your office softball league playoffs or how you got a 4.0 in your most challenging class in college. To nail this question, you should share a story/ example that is as close as possible to the job you are interviewing for and that best showcases your strengths and approach to work.
Describe an instance where there was a problem, state the impact of that problem, and how you were able to solve it. Share the results beyond your immediate solution. For example, suppose you created a new onboarding system for new hires. In that case, you could share: why the company needed one, the impact of not having an onboarding system, how you went about creating one, and how, after a period of time, there is less churn, employees are more efficient, etc.
4. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
One of the oldest tricks in the book is for candidates to respond to this answer by sharing a ‘mistake’ that’s a positive attribute, such as “I work too hard’ or “I care too much.” But be warned: recruiters can usually see right through that. At the same time, though, you should avoid talking about a colossal failure. The mistake most people make is that they either try to dodge the question, or they give an example that is detrimental to them; you are still there to sell yourself and prove yourself as a valuable asset, after all. Instead, try to think of something that happened a long time ago. More importantly, focus on the lessons you learned and how you carried these lessons forward to ensure you didn’t repeat the mistake.
5. Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
When answering this question, make sure not to blame others for whatever predicament you ended up in. Even if others had a hand in it, you don’t want to sound like you’re not a team player or don’t take responsibility for yourself. Keep your focus on what you did and describe the circumstances in a neutral manner. Please stay away from examples of difficult bosses, clients, or coworkers. Although all of us have experienced something like that, an interviewer has no idea whether you are correct in your assessment or merely projecting your faults onto others. For example, you could talk about building a project with a fraction of your competitors’ budget and how you were able to use grassroots techniques to overcome that obstacle. For your story to make the biggest impact, make sure to describe vividly why it was so difficult: the bigger the problem you solved, the more significant your impact!
6. Describe a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
Before you get caught up in sharing your accomplishments, take a step back. To convey to an interviewer how you went above and beyond, you need first to define “above and beyond”. Candidates often botch this question by failing to give a brief backstory. Before you can showcase how you went beyond the role, you have to set the parameters of the job. Try to describe the context of the task, the goals, and what was explicitly expected of you. It is best to pick a project that paid off for the company; perhaps you stayed for two extra hours on several occasions to make sure everything was completed well ahead of schedule and to high quality. Or maybe you volunteered to pick up the work leftover by a colleague who resigned. Whatever the example, it should demonstrate a can-do attitude and a willingness to get involved and go the extra mile for your company.
7. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
Again, in this situation, blaming or bad-mouthing someone isn’t the right route to take. It will only make you look deflective or petty. Who knows? You may even be unknowingly disparaging about your boss to someone who knows him or her. Especially if you’re interviewing within your current industry: the world is tiny. The person you complain to might attend church services with or be married to your boss’s relation. Instead, the emphasis here is how disagreeing with your boss forced you to take the initiative and to put the company first, ahead of your frustration and disappointment. Ideally, you want to make it clear that you and your boss maintain a civil, respectful, maybe even close relationship. You want to demonstrate your empathy for your boss… and your belief in achieving the company’s mission statement.
8. Are there any problems/frustrations in your current role?
Not really. My current role is busy, and I support many transactions……. From time to time, as in any job, there are the normal challenges of multiple deadlines and overall workload; however, I am fine with that because …..
I like supporting my commercial colleagues on …..
I enjoy advising on ….
9. “How would you describe yourself in one word?”
This one seeks to get down to your personality’s nitty-gritty and how it will fit into the company culture.
“They want to know about your personality type, how confident you are in your self-perception, and whether your work style is a good fit for the job,” career expert Lynn Taylor told Business Insider. Answer with a positive attribute that you think will make you successful in this particular role, and you’ll be in good shape.
10. “Why do you want to leave your current job?”
When discussing your current job or past positions in an interview, try to avoid dwelling on the negative. Sure, your boss might be a space cadet, and your company culture may be toxic… but those comments won’t endear you to this new company. Instead, focus on the desirable attributes offered by this new position. “Know that hiring managers don’t mind hearing that you’re particularly excited about the growth opportunity at their company,” Taylor explained to BI.
11. “What could your current company do to keep you?”
This slight spin on the “Why do you want to leave?” question feels particularly tricky, but the same principles should apply to your response. Emphasize what you’re looking for from your next position rather than what’s lacking in your current one, and you’ll come across as driven and goal oriented.
12. “Can you name three of your strengths and weaknesses?”
Perhaps the most classic interview question of them all, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” is an exercise in self-reflection. While Taylor advised BI to “ultimately turn [your weaknesses] into strengths,” I’m going to disagree respectfully. The old “my weakness is actually my strength!” trick is a tired one, and hiring managers have seen it countless times before. The problem? It doesn’t address their actual point of interest (your ability to evaluate your strong suits and areas that need improvement). A better bet involves being honest about your weaknesses but actively mentioning the steps you’re taking to grow and evolve.
13. “What are you most proud of in your career?”
The hiring manager already has a clue regarding your career-related pride points: your resume, which should be a well-curated marketing document highlighting your most outstanding professional achievements. But the way you talk about these accomplishments reveals a great deal about your passions and your dedication. Stay clear and concise, but don’t shy away from genuine expressions of confidence. You’ve earned them!
14. “What kind of bosses and coworkers have you had the most and least success with, and why?”
Another culture-centric query, this question is “trying to ascertain if you generally have conflicts with people and/or personality types,”
15. “How do you handle stress?”
Interviewers, particularly those in professions with considerable amounts of high-value and time-sensitive work, want to know that you can withstand a reasonable quantity of workplace pressure with strategy and grace. Rather than regaling your interview panel with an account of your extracurricular yoga and meditation practices, consider narrowing your focus to the tactics you use to deal with stress while in the office.
16. “How have you handled conflicting priorities in the past?”
When hiring, companies actively seek out skilled multitaskers due to their promise of productivity. But if you’re faced with two important tasks and must choose which to prioritize over the other, can you smoothly synthesize the information you have about these assignments and come to a deliberate and well-conceived decision? That’s the “trick” behind this interview question, so an answer that addresses this concern will likely yield a positive response.
17. What are some of your leadership experiences?
Don’t get caught up in just listing every leadership role you’ve ever had — think about the ones where you truly made a difference. Anyone can rattle off the manager positions they’ve held or the volunteer work they performed, but the leadership is measured on impact. People should be changed (for the better) for having interacted with you. And, if you’re lucky, you should be changed as well. And if those experiences are related to the work you’ll be doing, all the better. Also, you’ll want to make sure that your experiences as a leader demonstrate proactivity. Never give examples of a time leadership was thrust upon you; this sounds like you are reluctant to take on responsibility and be made to do so. You should demonstrate your ability to build a harmonious team and create a positive working relationship with the people you lead. Of course, teamwork should ideally lead to results. Someone who is a leader can demonstrate the ability to get others to want to get on board with the direction the team is going. Think of an example when you could get coworkers or direct reportees on board with the idea of a successful outcome.
Contributor: Mudita Valakati (Senior Researcher, Hughes-Castell)
Editor: Sam Kenworthy (Director – Head of Private Practice, Hughes-Castell)