Ask a Legal Recruiter: How to Tackle Tough Interview Questions, Disclose a Pregnancy in an Interview, and Not Get Fired Right Away


For nearly two decades, Staffing and Recruiting has been one of the leading international legal recruitment agencies and is home to some of the most distinguished legal recruiters in the world. With extensive market experience and our trademark “no BS” approach, Kinney’s recruiters are favorites among legal industry candidates and clients. We’re keen to share some of what we’ve learned with more people, so we’ve picked out a few FAQs and will post them regularly with our take, starting with the questions below. Beyond that, we’re here if you have any questions. We are real people who show up every day and work hard to know as much about the legal industry as anyone. The fruit of our experience is really our business. Would you like to know more about how legal recruitment works? Want our perspective on the market? Do you have a random question? Email [email protected] and we’ll get back to you with our review!

Question: “What should I do when a job interview question confuses me?”

Robert Kinney: First of all, remember that lawyers are not supposed to know everything. The best lawyers know where to find the answer, are willing to spend the time to find it, and have almost a sixth sense for knowing when something is wrong. Beyond that, the best way I’ve found to get something useful out of my memory when it’s not spitting out what I want is to try a different prompt. In other words, rephrase the question. Ask a few questions for clarification, toss around some initial ideas, and ask the interviewer to brainstorm. If you can start a conversation, you’ll likely find ways to talk about your own problem-solving skills and arrive at a more thoughtful response. Finally, remember that the best interviews are usually the ones where the interviewer talks the most. People always love what they have to say. So as long as you think about what you say, all you have to do is make the person you’re talking to take over.

Daniel Roark: Inevitably, all professionals over the course of their careers will be faced with difficult interview questions that will leave them perplexed. What do you do when you’re in the hot seat and your mind goes blank? First, take a rhythm, inhale and refrain from saying an “I don’t know” by default. Even a bad or difficult question gives a candidate the chance to show their analytical and problem-solving skills, which is often more valuable information than the “right answer”. Robert rightly advises that asking the interviewer clarifying questions or audibly reframing the question can trigger a thread of thought or prompt the interviewer (if generous and/or engaged) to provide more context. And then start constructing an answer like you did through three years of opaque examinations in law school. A candidate can also ask the interviewer to come back to the topic later, giving the candidate time to reflect and hopefully resulting in a clearer interview when the topic is revisited. On rare occasions, our candidates have been asked interview questions that required a singular answer – for example, “Which rule in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure deals with claims for attorneys’ fees?” In these types of legal trivia situations, either one knows the answer (Rule 54) or one does not know it, thus providing the tried and tested answer: “I don’t know the answer, but I’ll follow up right after the interview “. is an honest placeholder. [“It’s in the 50s” would also be a fine answer. The issue usually is whether you even care.] Anyone who says they will follow up should do so. I encourage candidates to practice articulating their answers out loud before their interviews. Compelling interview answers require self-editing, sentence sculpting, and substance. And that’s a tough combination to pull off on the fly in a pressure-filled room. The best candidates enter the room prepared. As Winston Churchill told his driver as he waited in his car for several quiet minutes before entering a pressure-filled forum where he would deliver a speech, “I’m just planning my impromptu remarks.”

Question: “What does a partner have to do to get fired on the spot?” »

Lora Kenyon: I hardly ever hear about what’s going on, and I’ve heard crazy things associates have done. If there is a problem with the associate not living up to company standards, the associate is usually given the opportunity to improve or they are told they need to start looking for another job and that he has a few months to find something else before being made redundant. Actions that can result in immediate dismissal are usually more egregious (such as threatening or endangering co-workers or being seriously impaired by drugs or alcohol), involve ethical concerns, or endanger important customer relationships.

Question: “I just found out I’m pregnant while working with a recruiter to apply for major firms. Should I inform the recruiter of the pregnancy? »

Cindy Summerfield: It’s easy. Absolutely. Whether or not you want to disclose your pregnancy to a recruiter is up to you, but the more transparent the candidate is with us, the better the outcome. To be clear, we will not ask you if you are pregnant and you do NOT have to tell us or your potential future employer if you are pregnant. If you choose to disclose your pregnancy (which we normally recommend if asked for our opinion), then my advice is to go through your first round of interviews/screening and then be open with the company/company at this subject. A good recruiter can help you navigate through time and determine if the company has the work/life balance and culture you’re looking for once the baby arrives. We see this problem frequently and I can’t think of a scenario where it cost the candidate in any way to be transparent.

You have a question? Email [email protected] and we’ll get back to you with our review!


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