The 5 Best Questions to Ask at the End of an Interview
We’ve all been there. You’re nearing the end of a 20 minute interrogation of your past achievements, present morals, and future hopes. You’ve managed to somehow argue how your weaknesses are actually strengths, and how you alone can be the solution to all this law firm’s (or chambers’) problems.
Then that final question: “Do you have anything you’d like to ask us?”
What to say? You don’t want to sit there like a lemon, but you equally don’t want to ask anything that makes it look like you simply have no idea what their firm does. Here are the five best suggestions.
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1. Yes, if it’s ok, I’ve just got a quick question for you. What is it that you enjoy most about working at this firm/Chambers?
If a genuinely sincere enquiry, this can be a winner for you. After all, you’ve been interrogated by them for why they should pick you, but it takes two to tango.
Why should you pick them? You want to make sure that you’ll be happy if you do take this job. There’s no better way of finding that out than from the horse’s mouth.
2. When can I expect to hear back from you about the result of this interview?
Another classic, and actually a useful one for you as well. Chances are they’ll already have told you that you can expect to be rejected/accepted within the next week or so but if not, it’s worth asking, just for your own peace of mind.
There’s also little risk that this is interpreted as some sycophantic flattery, and makes you come across as a person who knows what they want (in this case, a job!).
3. I know that your firm practises in [this niche area of law] that I’m interested in. What are the chances of me being able to practise there in my first few years on the job?
This is a sure fire winner. You’re showing your interest in one of their subject areas, your awareness of what it is they do, and your desire to make a name for yourself in a particular area of law.
You’re also, indirectly, acknowledging that as a junior, you don’t really get to choose your own work-stream and are willing to fight determinedly to be taken off the grunt work.
More than that, it’ll make you stand out. When they go over the files and notes from the 40 people they interviewed for this training contract/pupillage, you will be the person who they remember for being committed and interested.
It also helps that, psychologically, ‘last impressions’ can have almost as lasting an effect as first impressions. If your last impression is different to everybody else’s, you’ll come to mind first and be that much more favoured in the final decision-making process.
4. What’s your position in [that niche debate we just had]?
Not always applicable, but an ever-increasing number of legal interviews seem to include some current affairs debate. I’ve been asked whether same-sex schools should be illegal, whether the PM should be able to trigger Article 50 TEU without Parliamentary approval, and whether the UK should be giving aid to Pakistan given their likely collusion with terrorist groups.
There’s nothing better to show how engaged and interested you are in the interview than to turn the tables on your interviewers – they’ve probably been playing devil’s advocate while you argued your position, now see what they think and whether it can stand up to your criticism.
5. Don’t ask anything!
Sometimes this is the correct answer. They are just being polite. Hopefully you’ve read their website, you’ve chatted to friends of friends that work at the firm, you know what their working culture is like, you ultimately know everything about this job you’ve spent the last few months working towards. They are simply wrapping up the interview and getting you out of the room in a polite manner.
Simply say: “No, any questions I had have been answered already, I look forward to hearing from you in the future.”
Published: 01/02/18 Author: Oliver Jackson
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