20 Questions You Aren’t Asking (But Should Be) During Interviews

//20 Questions You Aren’t Asking (But Should Be) During Interviews

Hiring standout talent is crucial to your firm’s long-term success. Unfortunately, many firms don’t make enough time for the interview process and rely too heavily on recruiters or short, surface-level interviews to source new hires for their teams. Establishing a strong set of interview questions to ask prospective employees ahead of time will position your firm to make better, more informed hiring decisions.

Here are 20 interview questions that will help you go deeper in your interviews and find those “diamond in the rough” employees.

Small Law Firm-Specific Questions

Small law offices are are a different breed than big, corporate firms. It’s crucial to figure out how prospective hires can fit into your office’s culture and day-to-day workflow. Determine whether a small firm like yours could be the right fit with these small firm-specific questions:

  1. What initially drew you to pursue a career at a small law firm like ours?
  2. Describe the work environment you are most likely to thrive in?
  3. What, in your opinion, is the biggest difference between small law firms and larger practices?

Career-Specific Questions

It’s important to get a grasp on the functional skills potential hires can bring to the table. At smaller law firms, hiring managers often seek a specific set of competencies based on their practice areas of focus or client needs. Here are a few questions you can ask during your interviews to see what your new hire can add to your practice:

  1. How many hours do you typically bill each month?
  2. What is your greatest professional achievement?
  3. What types of matters were/are you focused on at your last/current firm?
  4. What is the most responsibility you’ve ever had professionally and what was the result?
  5. Describe a time when you have disagreed with a superior and how you proceeded.
  6. Scenario: A client calls you right when you’re beginning to head out for night with an urgent matter. How do you handle it?
  7. Describe your most challenging client and how you dealt with them.
  8. How would your last/current boss describe you?

Personal Goals and Motivations

A great resume can provide you with insights on prospective employees well-before the interview. However, personal goals and motivations are often uncovered only through face-to-face conversations, so it’s important to spend a significant portion of your interview getting personal. Here are a few questions that can help:

  1. What are your long-term personal goals and how do they intersect with your career goals?
  2. What do you hope to achieve both personally and professionally in the next 5 years? What about by the end of your life?
  3. What is your biggest weakness?
  4. How do you manage stress?
  5. What keeps you energized, motivated and happy?

Position and Experience-Specific Questions

Last but not least, it is crucial to learn about your prospective hires’ past positions and the experience already under their belts. Understanding their salary and benefits preferences is also key if you want to make a competitive offer without overextending your firm financially.

  1. What could you do at your last/current job that no one else could?
  2. What are your compensation requirements?
  3. Why did you leave your last job/why do you want to leave your current job?
  4. What were your expectations when starting your last/current job? How did they change as your position evolved?

Hiring your next employee is a big decision. Follow our guide (and maybe add a few unique questions of your own!), and you’ll find yourself one step closer to locking down your dream hire.

Did you just hire a new employee? With Smokeball’s professional onboarding, you can get your new team members up and running on Smokeball in no time. For more information, call us at 855-668-3206.


By |January 12th, 2016|

About the Author:

For years, Josh has helped lawyers become more organized, productive, and profitable. A trained litigator, Josh came to Smokeball from a large east-coast law firm where his practice focused on franchise, insurance, marine, and general litigation. His work with Smokeball, and his continued passion for what he does each day, is driven by a desire to help lawyers and their staff do better in every way. Knowing well the stress and strain put on today’s legal professional, he regularly focuses on improving work and life in the law. He has traveled the country working with and learning from lawyers and their staff. Josh speaks regularly to bar associations about successful law firm practices and other legal topics. Recent notable engagements have been with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Missouri Bar’s Solo and Small Firm Conference. In addition to his work at Smokeball, Josh serves on the Writing Resource Center staff at The John Marshall Law School. Besides legal technology, his research interests include judicial decision-making, jury decision-making and psychology, and legal writing. He has written and overseen research exploring causal effects of sex/gender on federal appellate court decision-making, and assisted with research for a forthcoming textbook on judicial decision-making. Additionally, Josh sits on the Board of Directors of Chicago-based Community Activism Law Alliance and on the Board of Directors of Chicago Fringe Opera Company. Josh holds his J.D., cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Wash. U. Law Review, held the prestigious Thompson Coburn Research Fellowship, served as Research Assistant to then-Vice-Dean (now Chancellor) Andrew D. Martin, and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and a B.M. in Music Performance with Honors Scholar distinction from the University of Connecticut, making him a Huskies basketball fan through and through. Follow Josh’s activity on LinkedIn, and keep up with new articles on the Smokeball Blog.