Have you been going through interview after interview but no one is standing out? Or are you still struggling to make a final decision between two great candidates? Have you ever thought your interviewing techniques could be letting you down? Perhaps you’re not asking the right questions and you just don’t know quite enough about the candidates to make an informed decision. Whether you’re looking for a Paralegal or a Partner, we’ve put together some of the best questions to help you to get the most out of each interview and choose the right legal professional to help build and drive your business forward.


1. What job did you want as a child?

This is a great personality based question. It’s designed to help you see how a potential employee thinks on their feet and whether they think about unexpected questions logically or answer truthfully. Let’s be honest, it’s not very likely that a 5-year-old dreams of being a paralegal. A serious and constructed answer will most likely be made up. Yes, you are looking for imagination, creativity but more importantly, you want someone that is honest and doesn’t need to make up an answer to impress.

2. What’s the biggest professional decision you’ve had to make to date?

This question is a key indicator of where a candidate feels they are currently at in their career and the level of responsibility that has been expected from them in previous roles. Was this from a manager or from a client? Try to find out what final decision was made, this can also reveal what they believe is a tough decision and if they are able to make one easily and efficiently. You want to know how they handle challenging and stressful situations and how strong their critical thinking skills are.

3. Which management styles do you work under best?

Firstly, does their answer fit with your current management style? You want to know how self-directed your candidate is. If your business encourages empowerment, for example, a candidate who requires constant direction will not fit. If they will have to work under a micromanager, the self-driven candidate may not succeed. If this is the perfect candidate for the role and you see a future, it can be worth questioning your management style, is there a way to work around that?

4. Is it better to be perfect and late or good and on time?

This is a difficult question when looking at legal professionals as just ‘good’ work doesn’t always cut it when it comes to clients, abiding by regulations is a first and foremost in the industry. Usually the prefered answer would be ‘good and on time’. This answer shows that a candidate has a clear understanding of how important rigor and accuracy are. Although being thorough is essential to almost all roles, perfection is just not achievable however being. Being able to manage one’s time is just as, if not more, paramount when looking for the right candidate. You don’t want someone who is restricted by perfection, plus being late makes even the most perfect work not good enough.

5. What would you consider your most significant career accomplishment so far?

This is a great way to sense if they take pride and have confidence in the work they do. The applicant’s answer can say a lot about what the individual values and what he or she considers important. It also demonstrates what the applicant considers to be a significant achievement. Occasionally, consider asking what the prospective employee thinks of when they are asked to name their three key and most significant values.

6. How would your previous co-workers describe you?

This shows how they think they fit into office culture and helps you visualise the dynamic if this person were to join your team. You want more than just a simple ‘nice’ or ‘good’ from their answer, you want to know if an individual will be capable of working well with others, or with clients and if they can solve problems within a team. This kind of question also provides great insight into how a person perceives their self, are they confident and positive? Looking for answers such as ‘organised, enthusiastic, friendly, trustworthy etc’.

7. What things do you not like to do in your current role?

This is a good way to gauge a person’s dislikes and their honesty. If the initial answer is ‘nothing, I like everything’ then you can be sure it’s a lie, everyone has aspects of their role they don’t like and this provides you with an insight into whether this is the right person for this role. If they state something that is a huge part of this role then this isn’t the right person for you. If it’s something which is only a small aspect then could this be worked with? Perhaps this was down to initial training or confidence in that particular area. It’s a good platform to dig a little deeper.

8. If you could start your career all over again what would you do differently?

This question is designed to measure how a candidate views their own life, career and accomplishments. This can be very telling about the type of personality they will be in your office. Asking a candidate to explain the major decisions they have made, highlighting the positives and negatives, reveals the person’s ability to make decisions based on past professional experiences. It also lets candidates share their vision for the future and their ambitions.

9. What frustrates you the most in your current role?

This is a great way to understand a person’s weaknesses. Frustration tends to stem directly from something a person feels less confident with. Use this question as a replacement for ‘What is your biggest weakness’ as the majority of candidates will have prepared an answer for that one – this will catch them more off guard. Using a question based on frustration will indirectly get them to be more truthful about areas they are least capable of. If they start to moan about individuals or aspects of the company they disagree with, you can decide whether you want to employ someone who complains in an interview or not.

10. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

It’s always useful know more about where a candidate sees themselves in the future before you employ them. Is this person ambitious and does their vision reflect what you see for this role? This is one of the most typical interview questions, you’re looking for honesty but also for a candidate to be realistic and understand the development opportunities for this role. Paralegals who want to take undertake their qualifications or Solicitors who want to gain experience in new fields, this is a great way to find out how they see their own careers developing. You don’t want them to discuss money, or about starting up their own firm or become an independent Solicitor etc, these are not the intentions you’re looking for. Candidates should contextualise their ambitions to fit in with the role and your company as this will show you that they are committed and driven.

Asking standard questions will result in standard answers. As a recruiter you’re not looking to catch a candidate out, you want to find out more about how they will potentially fit into a team or business. You want to establish how they approach challenges and how they will communicate with new and existing clients. Attitude is a key part of any role as well as the ability to adapt. Throughout your questions, always keep in mind the crucial attributes you want and decide whether each answer aligns with these. Staff retention is a huge factor in recruitment budgets. Getting your recruitment process right is one way to make sure your new employees are still around six months down the line. Money saved here can be invested in growing your team and your business.

When it comes to recruiting in the legal it can be difficult to attract the right experience and skills. At Simply Law Jobs we know quality candidates is key.  We pride ourselves on providing relevant legal candidates for our clients.

Want more information on how to write the perfect job description? Or want to see how else we can help you find the perfect candidates-  call us on 01772 913937  or email us help@simplylawjobs.com
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