Perhaps the most dreaded question in any job interview is the one that turns the tables, "Do you have any questions for me?" While it is a time to learn more about the firm to help you make a more informed decision, it is simultaneously an opportunity to set yourself apart by asking insightful questions of your interviewer. Here are three questions that you can ask that will accomplish both goals.
How is work assigned to associates?
Every firm doles out work in a slightly different fashion (assigning partners, databases of available projects, random Friday afternoon phone calls asking you to work all weekend on a matter you know nothing about). This is an opportunity to learn more about what it's like working at the firm while also keeping the focus of the interview on the work aspects of the job.
What kind of mentoring and training are available for associates?
Some firms have huge, expensive training programs and some firms figure you learn best by doing. Knowing how a firm treats training and mentoring will help you decide if it will be a good fit for your own learning style. This question also subtly signals to your interviewer that you are someone who cares about improving yourself and your work.
What do you like most about working here?
This open-ended question will get the interviewer talking about themselves, which is a good thing--research shows that job interviewers tend to rate candidates more highly when the interviewers talk about themselves. The answer you get might not be very insightful (it will probably be some variation of "my colleagues" or "the high quality work"), but it will let you close the interview on a positive note.
And remember, do not ask about salary, benefits, vacation, billable requirements, or perks during your initial interview. If you get called back for more interviews, the employer will tell you all about the advantages of working there. At the interview, you simply want to prove that you are hardworking, intelligent, courteous, mature, and pleasant.
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