Don’t be fooled when your interviewer turns the tables, usually near the end of the interview, with an innocent “do you have any questions for me?” Your questions, or lack thereof, will be used to analyze at least three things: 1) Did you research the law firm? 2) Did you listen effectively in the interview? 3) Do you want this role?
This important opportunity to ask questions is often used to assess your eligibility for the job, but it’s also a great opportunity for you to assess the firm and your potential manager. Making a career transition is a big deal, so make the most of your chance to evaluate if the role and the law firm are right for you.
We’ve got three ways to stand out and seal the deal while interviewing your interviewer:
1. Show You’re A Culture Fit
Your website emphasized that ___________. What would you say is the most important aspect of your culture?
What are your law firm’s values and how do they play out in the workplace?
I’m really excited you emphasized how important a healthy culture is here. Can you tell me more about what you like about the culture, and how it impacts your day-to-day work?
While “company culture” can often be mistaken for the “perks” a company offers or the personalities and interests of members on the team, it is really about the values a law firm upholds. In asking one of these questions, you demonstrate not only a desire to align your values with that of the organization, you also show that it’s a top priority for you to be at a law firm that has great values and has woven those into their culture.
Increasingly, employers are embracing the concept that having the correct people on their team, from a culture fit perspective especially, may be the most important thing for their success. The surest test for how committed a company is to upholding their values and building a strong culture, is how hiring managers and employees talk about it. Once you’ve heard what they share, be sure to relate to their response and express how you share those values as well.
2. Show You’re Ready to Make an Impact
What challenges is the law firm or legal tech department facing that someone in this new position could help overcome?
What technology or soft skills is the team missing that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?
What personal characteristics do you think would be ideal for someone in this position?
Most law firms are looking for legal IT professionals who are ready to take on challenges and get results. By identifying the law firm’s challenges—and how you can help alleviate them—you show your potential employer that you don’t just want a job, you want to make an impact on the legal tech department and the firm.
These questions also have the added benefit of giving you a clear window into where the team stands today, why the tech team is hiring, and what managers value in their legal technology employees. Asking about the qualities a candidate needs to do this job well demonstrates your desire to understand how you as an individual can uniquely contribute to the organization beyond the job description. In addition, your interviewer may realize that the person they just described sounds a lot like you!
3. Show You’re Results-Oriented
If I were to start tomorrow, what would be the top priorities on my to-do list?
What are the most important things you’d like to see someone accomplish in the first 60 or 90 days?
What metrics or goals will my performance be evaluated against?
One of the most essential things you can do in an interview is gain an understanding of what the job is actually like, day-to-day. At the same time, you want to show your interviewer that you understand that “a day in the life” is only a part of the equation. By asking about priorities, long-term accomplishments, and how performance is measured, you can get a real feel for the job, while also making it clear that you value planning, prioritization, and being measured on results. In addition, asking these kinds of questions will help you gain insight into your day-to-day work life, while also making it clear that you understand not all tasks are created equal, which is key to success in any position.
“Any Questions for Me?” is usually your last opportunity to impress the interviewer—what you ask matters. The questions should be mutually beneficial: they allow you to make a statement about yourself that helps the interviewer learn more about you and they give you the opportunity to assess if you’re a good fit for the law firm’s IT team.
Go prepared to your next interview with several questions in mind, as the worst thing you can tell an interviewer is that you don’t have any questions. If much of what’s been detailed here has been covered in the interview and you’re willing to be bold, ask: do you have any hesitations about my qualifications? Asking this question means you’re willing to talk about your weaknesses and vulnerabilities and receive coaching, which is highly valued by law firm employers. It also gives you the opportunity to address concerns upfront. Instead of leaving your interviewer ruminating on those hesitations, they’ll be focused on all the reasons you’d be an asset for the technology department.
If you’re looking for your next legal tech opportunity and want personalized interview advice:
Note: This blog was originally published in 2017 and has been updated to reflect current trends and practices.