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With students in first and second year eagerly (or maybe not…) awaiting the arrival of the next round of applications for vacation schemes and training contracts respectively, one of the most important things that not many consider is how to respond when asked: ‘Do you have any questions for us?’. Although an interview can feel hugely one-sided, it is a chance for you to make sure that the firm you’re applying to is one which you actually want to work at. So, here are 10 examples of questions you might like to stow in your back pocket, ready for the end of the interview.
- What is the firm looking to achieve in the next 5 years?
The aim of this question is to show that you’ve done your research online and in the brochure, because often they won’t tell you long-term strategy. This is also a good one to show that you plan on looking to stay with the firm for the long-haul.
- What are your expectations of trainees within the first month, or first three months?
Again, this shows that you’ve really thought about what working at the firm would be like, and also demonstrates that you want to exceed the expectations they set.
- What are your trainee retention rates for the past three years?
This is one which will really inform you about your future should you work at the firm – if it’s high this is a good sign, if not, the interviewer should offer a reason.
- How many current partners started out as trainees at the firm?
Like the first question, this shows a real willingness to progress your career at the particular firm you’re applying to.
- Ask the recruiter (usually a partner from the graduate recruitment team) what they most like about working at the firm.
This answer will really show what the environment and atmosphere is like at the firm for anyone who works there, as a recruiter’s role differs from the tasks undertaken by lawyers on a day-to-day basis.
- How would you describe the firm’s culture?
A lot of the time, the only way to gauge the culture of the firm is to attend some sort of event/scheme at their offices, however this question is a really good way to get a feel for the work environment.
- How do you evaluate and assess trainees?
Like previous questions, this shows a willingness to progress and improve, as well as a real interest in working at the firm.
- Ask the partner how they got into their particular area of law.
This shows that you actually want to hear what others have to say, as often in an interview you can get very caught up with your own experiences.
- What do you find most challenging about your practice area?
A question like this deflects attention away from you, but also shows that you want to listen to what the partners have to say.
- What are the biggest opportunities facing the firm currently?
This shows an interest in the future of the firm, which demonstrates to your interviewers that you see a future for yourself there.
Although asking questions back at your interviewer may seem unnatural at first, once you have a few interviews under your belt you will get used to it. If you are from a background that is traditionally underrepresented in the legal industry and are looking for an opportunity to practice your interview technique, be sure to check out the TSL Mentorship Scheme, for the chance to be assigned your own personal mentor to help you with interviews and all other aspects of the application process.