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Why this matters:

Whether you need a litigator, a transactional attorney, in-house counsel, or another type of lawyer, the ability to work through any legal complexity — and ultimately develop smart recommendations and strategies — is at the crux of the role.

What to listen for:

  • A systematic approach to thinking through complex issues
  • Philosophies about the nature of the law

Why this matters:

Whether negotiating a contract, plea bargain, administrative action, or settlement, strong negotiation skills are paramount for any lawyer to have for when parties greatly differ in what they want. Observe whether the candidate’s approach to negotiating terms aligns with your opening, and your company’s values.

What to listen for:

  • Confident negotiation skills, and a strong success track record
  • Work style based on teamwork and collaboration

Why this matters:

It’s important to know a candidate’s approach to conflict resolution both in their work and their personal life. Assess whether they have an “at-any-cost” approach to their role, or if they refuse to do something they considered unethical? Great candidates can find a way to advocate effectively while maintaining their personal integrity.

What to listen for:

  • Thought process that reveals reasoning skills
  • Mention of scenarios that resulted in positive result for all parties involved

Why this matters:

Strong lawyer candidates should be able to point to at least one significant moment in their career that worked out in their favor. By walking you through their approach to enabling this achievement, the candidate can help you better understand how they’ll be able to reproduce this level of success at your organization.

What to listen for:

  • A degree of pride in their work
  • Drive for promoting justice, fairness, and morality
  • Acknowledgement of the role colleagues played in enabling this achievement

Why this matters:

Everyone makes mistakes, and lawyers are no exception. However, the focus of this question is not on the error itself, but what lessons the candidate learned from it. Look for stories that show how a particular mistake earlier in the candidate’s career shaped how they operate today. After all, great candidates will appreciate the opportunity to learn and improve.

What to listen for:

  • Mention of the mistake made
  • Understanding of how the situation facilitated future growth
  • Any other career regrets or misgivings

Why this matters:

Tough decisions are inherent within the law. Corporations regularly work with their outside counsel to strategize on key decisions. Corporations regularly work with their outside counsel to strategize on key decisions. The candidate’s answer here will tell you whether they’re comfortable making their own decisions, even if they’re unpopular, or if they keep their eye on the company’s mission.

What to listen for:

  • A willingness to communicate regularly with the company on all key decisions
  • Demonstration of both conceptual skill and personal or subjective rigor

Why this matters:

This question will help you assess the candidate’s core values,  and whether these align with your company’s. You should understand the degree to which the candidate cares about making a positive difference in the world, and whether this passion reflects the mission and purpose of your business.

What to listen for:

  • Greatest strengths that reveal domain of expertise
  • Excitement for creating positive change

Why this matters:

While it’s difficult to distill a personality into so few words, this question forces the candidate to think deeply about who they truly are. Listen to see how their self-perception matches how you see them, whether they’re realistic about their strengths, and whether their attitude about themselves can enable your company to succeed.

What to listen for:

  • High level of self-awareness that indicates significant emotional intelligence
  • Clarity in describing self-perception
  • Attitude toward life

Why this matters:

Whether the candidate mentions a past manager, historical figure, or Fortune 500 CEO, their answer can tell you a lot about their work values, personality traits, goals, and more. While there are no right or wrong answers, candidates should provide a thoughtful response that gives weight to their reasoning.

What to listen for:

  • Values like communication, relationship-building, and service orientation
  • An eagerness to have an impactful and successful career
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