What is the Most Difficult Question You Have Been Asked during a Job Interview for a Position as an Attorney?

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We asked attorneys throughout the nation what is the most difficult question you have been asked during a job interview as an attorney. Several attorneys weighed in on our question and provided their responses they gave during their interview. We hope you enjoy their answers.

The most difficult questions are a result of the interviewer trying to get a glimpse into your personality, or to see how you handle curve balls. How they try to find this out tells you something about them too. Assuming the question complies with state and federal discrimination laws, the interviewee shouldn't view any question as difficult. The difficult part is resisting the urge to say what you think the interviewer wants to hear. The more honest both sides are in an interview, the more likely you'll find a good fit and not waste time in a position that wasn't right for you.

-Brian J. Hubbard

One of the most difficult interview questions I was asked by a lawyer was 'What are the three strongest reasons that I shouldn't I hire you?' This was a difficult question because it required me to look at my own weaknesses and respond in a meaningful way that demonstrated I had an understanding of my limitations but that I could also spin them as an asset.

-Jamie Hopkins, Esq.
Assistant Professor of Taxation at The American College

I had an unemployed recent law school graduate (with six figures of debt)report to me that the hiring manager at a small firm asked her point blank 'What is the least amount of money we can pay you to have you work here?' And then went on to inform her that he was interviewing multiple other applicants and that salary was one of their primary concerns.

-James R. Snell, Jr.
Attorney at Law

I was a 5th year lawyer interviewing for a lateral position at an AmLaw100 firm. The managing partner asked me 'What's the difference between collateral estoppel and res judicata?' Normally, this wouldn't be a difficult question to answer but it threw me because no one had ever asked me a legal question in an interview. I remember laughing lightly, saying, 'The only person who ever asked me a question like that is a judge so I'll give you my courtroom answer. I'd be happy to file a supplemental brief on that, Your Honor.' He laughed too and I was hired.

-Victoria Pynchon

Probably the most difficult question I've ever been asked in a job interview is 'What if you worked here and your manager took credit for all your great ideas. How would you handle it?'

Gary Crews, PLLC

The most difficult question I was asked in an interview is "How do you know when it's time to 'fire' a client? How would you go about doing that with the least damage to the attorney-client relationship?"

-Scott Grabel Grabel & Associates

I wasn't quite sure what to expect during my first interviews right out of law school, but I felt prepared and confident enough to answer most questions and to challenge any hypothetical arguments they may throw at me. However, I was completely caught off guard when I was asked about a specific case law during an interview - it just seemed odd that anyone would expect me to know this random, historic case well enough to have an opinion locked in and ready to go!

-Deborah Sweeney
Before becoming CEO of MyCorp, Ms. Sweeney worked as an intellectual property attorney, and earned her JD from Pepperdine.

After a few interview questions, I was given the facts of a case and I was asked to write a Memorandum of Law, right there, on the spot. The partner told me I could use the computer, he got up, and left me at the conference room working on the Memorandum. He was impressed and I got the job. That is the most difficult 'question' I have been asked in an interview.


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