By Beth Lane 21 Sep 2022 7 min read

How to answer common questions asked during legal interviews

You can never be sure which questions will be asked during an interview and they can become inherently stressful situations. However, preparing for frequent interview questions can help reduce your anxiety.

Whether you're getting ready for an entry-level, lateral, OCI, or callback interview, planning will allow you time to develop specific examples and strategies to connect your experiences to the role and company/organisation in question. Here are some typical legal interview questions, along with advice on how to answer them.

  1. ‘Tell me a little about yourself.’


You are the expert on yourself, so this may seem like a simple question. However, the open-ended character of this question can be disastrous without adequate planning. A great response will be succinct but contain enough details to pique the interviewer's interest.

Consider this question a chance to provide your elevator pitch; go over your pertinent experience, abilities, and objectives. You might also take this chance to describe how you became interested in this area of law or even your decision to become a lawyer. Be succinct and audience-specific in your response. Prepare beforehand so you can confidently offer this response on the day of the interview.


  1. ‘What would it be and why if you could bring any law into force?’


This question can also be phrased as "Which law would you like to amend and why?" Questions like this gauge your judicial perspectives while also testing your legislative understanding. Your answer will also demonstrate the legal topics that most interest you.


Choosing legislation or legal topic that has recently made headlines is smart because it shows that you are up to date on the law. Alternately, decide to propose a law that would be advantageous to the company or its clientele.

  1. ‘Can you give an example of a challenge or disagreement you have resolved at work?’


Don't worry; questions like this in behavioural interviews are not intended to prevent you from getting the job. Instead, with the help of examples from your own life, you can demonstrate how you deal with disagreement in this type of issue. As behavioural interview questions are becoming increasingly prevalent in law firm interviews, job applicants for legal positions must prepare for them (especially as firms work to target implicit bias in hiring).


The STAR approach is a good way to organise your response to behavioural interview questions. Situation, task, action, and result are abbreviated as STAR. Your response will cover each STAR component in one to three sentences. Prevent the interviewer from hearing extraneous details that will give the impression that you are ranting by keeping your response succinct and to the point.


Remember to keep the conversation on the conflict in the workplace to matters of business while answering this specific topic. Talking about trivial things or social situations can appear immature and unprofessional.


If you have never encountered this situation or are struggling to come up with an example, this question could seem intimidating. When answering behavioural interview questions, preparation is key. If you give yourself some time to reflect, you'll probably recall worthwhile moments from the past that would have been challenging to recall at the moment.

  1. ‘How would you distinguish yourself as a trainee?’ 


Since there are many more applications than available positions regarding training contracts, now is your chance to showcase your special selling features and explain how you could benefit the company.


Use meaningful, real-world examples to highlight your important traits and experiences. Instead of simply asserting your superior problem-solving abilities, describe to the interviewer how you used them to win a student mooting contest.


This is also a good opportunity to show how your and your firm's values align. Do you have any social or charitable activities you'd want to participate in? Would you wish to join any organisational sports teams? Would you like to get involved with employee networks like those for minorities, women, or ethnic groups and leave your mark? Are there any social offering holes that you could fill for the company?

  1. ‘Have you got any questions for us?’


Have at least three questions prepared for the interview's conclusion. Asking questions will create an impression to the interviewer that you are serious about this interview and have done your study, despite the temptation to say you don't. The in-depth study of the company is one method to stand out in your interview.

There is no better way to show and demonstrate your knowledge than by asking questions about the company on your own. Avoid asking questions that a website search can quickly and simply answer (e.g, how many practice areas a firm has, where the firm is located, etc.). It is also beneficial to ask the interviewer about their experiences working at the company and the kinds of work they would handle as an associate.

  1. ‘Can you describe a recent issue involving legal firms?’


Legal recruiters say that one of the most crucial qualities a candidate can have is business awareness. Your response must demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about business identity and structure and industry, regulatory, economic, cultural, and social challenges.


Prepare for questions pertaining to commercial awareness by regularly watching the news and reading newspapers. To obtain the most recent business news, subscribe to legal newsletters and set up notification alerts on your phone. Visit company websites and keep up with them on social media.

  1. ‘Your supervisor delivers bad counsel in a client encounter. How do you behave?’


• A client phones and demands immediate guidance when you're alone in the office. How do you behave?

• What would you do if three partners approached you asking for work done by 5?

• What would you do if a client requested you to take a morally dubious action that was legal?


The purpose of questions with a dilemma is to challenge your situational judgement, even though they can be uncomfortable to respond to.


Reading the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Code of Conduct, which mandates that all trainees and solicitors must operate with honesty and in the best interests of each client, is the greatest approach to become ready for these types of queries. Additionally, it specifies that you must treat customers fairly and act in a way that upholds the public's confidence in you. Any actions that go against this rule of behaviour are required.

  1. ‘What three historical characters would you invite to a dinner party, and why?’


Not all candidates will be asked bizarre questions, but some employers do so to learn more about a prospect and gauge how quickly they can think on their feet.


Never worry. Most of the time, there is no right or wrong response. All that recruiters want to know is how you approach a problem.


Talk through your response to show logical reasoning and conversational skill, then explain to support it.


Examples of similar questions are: 

• What five items, and why would you take if you were stuck on a desert island?

• Explain religion.

• The number of cars in the UK.


Overall summary


Using the chance to ask some of your questions is a fantastic way to prepare for your interview. Ask questions that show you are considering advancement and establishing a long-term career with the company. Ask, for instance, about the level of responsibility given to trainees, the qualities the interviewer thought were significant in past trainees, and any expansion or investment plans the company has for the next few years. 


The finest piece of advice is to keep in mind that interviews are fundamentally about individuals. The interviewer wants to know if you would be a good addition to their team, but it's also your chance to decide whether you want to work for the company. The interviewer is deciding if they wish to collaborate with you. They are attempting to determine whether you will be worth the expense. Do they want to collaborate with you every day? Can they introduce you to a client? Defy intimidation. Stay upbeat and true to yourself.