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While many of the most prestigious law firms rely on a conversational-style interview process, behavioral interview questions are becoming more and more popular. A behavioral interview seeks to discover how candidates handled themselves in past situations, such as at prior jobs, internships, or school-related activities. The logic of these interviews is that past performance predicts future performance. So, if you were a strong communicator and a good time manager, worked well with others, met deadlines, and otherwise performed professionally, the reasoning is that you’ll do the same in your new job.
Behavioral interview questions may vary based on the skill set and knowledge needed for the position (for example, environmental law versus intellectual property law). But all of them will probe into a candidate's past performance and require a carefully crafted response that demonstrates a candidate's strengths and/or how they grew and learned from a situation.
Developing a strategy for tackling these questions is an important step in your interview preparation. One approach, as you review sample questions, is to create responses in the form of short “stories” that present your actions in these situations in a positive light. Practice your responses until you’re confident that you can effectively answer similar questions during the interview.
Many people also use the STAR interviewing response technique when answering behavioral-interview questions. This technique may also be referred to as the PAR (Problem, Action, Result) or SAR (Situation, Action, Result) technique. A STAR response includes the following steps:
1. Describe the Situation or Task in a past job or volunteer experience that you had to address (for example, dealing with a difficult coworker, going the extra mile to complete an assignment, etc.).
2. Detail the Actions you took to address the situation or to complete the task.
3. Describe the Results that occurred because of your actions.
Practicing these strategies with real questions is critical to succeeding on interview day. Here are some typical behavioral interview questions:
This post is based on an article from Vault Career Guide to Law. To read the full guide, click here.
Is there a legal job question you need answered or a topic you'd like to see covered? Write to our law editor Mary Kate Sheridan: email@example.com.
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