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You're at the end of a law firm job interview and everything's going well. You smiled at all the right times, appeared interested, and shook hands like a pro. Just don't screw up these last few minutes and you might actually have a shot at this job.
Then the interviewer asks, "Do you have any questions for me?" Uh oh. Questions for you? What if you don't ask the right questions? Or any questions? Should you even ask questions?
To start, yes, it's a good idea to ask questions at the end of an interview. It looks like you're engaged and interested, plus you also get substantive questions answered. So instead of suddenly sweating from every part of your body, relax and take a look at these questions that you actually should be asking:
1. What Is Your Timeline for Making a Decision?
This is a good question to have an answer to, so you're not strung along for a long time. If the employer doesn't have a definitive answer, then there might be a problem.
2. Is There Room for Advancement?
This question makes you seem the minimum amount of ambitious, which is a good thing. It forces the employer to tell you whether you've just accepted an offer into a dead-end job. (Many associate jobs these days are no longer partner-track, you know.)
3. Are There Opportunities for Professional Development?
Many BigLaw firms have existing professional development programs that help associates build new skills. It doesn't hurt to ask, though, especially at small or medium-sized firms that may not have formal programs.
4. How Do You Evaluate Employee Performance?
This question also indicates ambition and lets the employer know you're eager to meet whatever goals they set. On the other hand, if the employer demands 2,500 billable hours, well ... you can decide if you really want to work there.
5. How Do You Like Working Here?
Believe it or not, you might get an honest answer to this question. I've been to interviews where the interviewer, an attorney at the firm, basically said, "It's a job. We're not saving the world." Avoid asking this question to HR people, who are trained to be all smiles during interviews.
6. Do You Have Any Concerns About My Qualifications?
"It's a bold move, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off." This question really puts an interviewer on the spot, but such a pointed question could impress the interviewer. Like the previous question, you might even get an honest answer, which would give you an opportunity to explain yourself.
7. Do I Have the Job?
Another bold move that depends on your careful evaluation of the interviewer. The Muse quotes Barbara Corcoran of "Shark Tank," who respects people who pull this one. As The Muse points out, you'll probably get a boilerplate "we have to interview more people" answer, but the brashness of asking such a question will stick with the interviewer.