What not to say during your law firm interview

January 30, 2018

We live in a time where the legal job market is more competitive than ever. While job search tools have advanced to help with the process of finding a new job, it can be hard work just to get an interview. When you do land an interview, of course, you want to avoid ruining your prospects with an ill-chosen comment to your prospective new employer.

Maybe you’re a law student preparing for your first interviews in the legal market, or an associate who’s just starting out on their job search for their ideal law firm. Either way, you’ll want to do your research and be prepared, both of which can help you avoid saying the wrong thing at your next interview. As a legal recruitment associate, I have had the opportunity to interview candidates from various backgrounds.

Here is my list of top 10 things not say during your law firm interview:


  1. “Sorry, I’m late.” First impressions mean everything. Look up where your interview is taking place, plan, and give yourself lots of time to get there. Make sure you arrive on time and if there is an emergency, make sure you know who to get into contact with to let them know you will be late.


  1. “I really don’t like my current firm or managing partner.” Although it may be true at the time, always remain professional and never bad talk your former or current employer. You do not want your potential new employer to think you will say the same about them.


  1. “How much does this position pay?” While money does talk, let the interviewer be the one to bring up compensation. Diving into the details of pay might give off the impression that you only care about money.


  1. “Oh, you’re a full-service law firm? I thought you only did litigation?” Do your research and consider the firm are interviewing with. Knowing the basic details of what they do will prepare you for the type of questions they may ask or aid you in coming up with questions to ask during the interview.


  1. “I don’t have the experience you need, but I’m a quick learner.” Let the interviewer figure out if you’re qualified and focus on the skills that you do have.


  1. “Perfectionism is my greatest weakness.” You know the question is coming, and chances are the interviewer has heard that response before. That response does not offer much true insight into your work style or personality. Be sure to have a better, more equipped response that highlights who you are.


  1. “What’s your annual leave and sickness policy?” It doesn’t look good if, before you’ve even been hired, you’re planning your absence from the firm.


  1. “How many other candidates are you interviewing for this position?” This is a question you should wait and ask after you are hired.


  1. “I don’t have any questions.” You should always have at least one or two questions prepared to show your interest. A great technique is to ask questions during the interview as they come up. It shows you’re listening and engaged with the interviewer. If you’re not sure where to start when coming up with questions for your interviewer, take a look at our recent blog post, The 12 best interview questions asked by lawyer candidates.


  1. “I don’t know.” No matter how prepared you are, there is still a chance you will get asked a question you don’t know the answer to. Repeat the question, take a drink of water, do whatever you need to do to avoid answering with the phrase every interviewer dreads to hear.

Jordan Priest, Recruitment Associate