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Legal counsel interview questions and answers

This Legal Counsel interview profile brings together a snapshot of what to look for in candidates with a balanced sample of suitable interview questions.

Christine Del Castillo
Christine Del Castillo

Former Community Manager at Workable specialized in employee experience, talent brands and our event series, Workable Ideas.

legal counsel interview questions

10 good legal counsel interview questions

  1. What interests you about being a legal counsel for our industry?
  2. What do you hope to achieve by working at our company?
  3. What experience or training has prepared you for this position?
  4. Describe your proudest accomplishments in your legal career. How do you define success?
  5. Recall a situation that required you to seek outside counsel. What factors did you consider? What was the result?
  6. What’s the most complex legal situation you’ve faced at work? What strategy did you use to resolve it?
  7. Regarding the previous question, who else was involved in this project? What were their roles?
  8. Describe a situation where you made a mistake or regretted your decision. How did you handle it?
  9. How do you cope with stress at work?
  10. How would you learn more about our organization during your first week on the job?

Here are 10 essential interview questions and sample answers to help identify the best candidates for this role.

1. What interests you about being a legal counsel for our industry?

This question gauges the candidate’s passion and understanding of the specific industry they’re applying to.

Sample answer:

“I’m drawn to the dynamic challenges of the tech industry. The rapid innovations mean there’s always something new to learn and navigate legally, which I find invigorating.”

2. What do you hope to achieve by working at our company?

This question assesses the candidate’s long-term vision and alignment with the company’s goals.

Sample answer:

“I aim to streamline the company’s legal processes, ensuring compliance while fostering innovation. I believe in the company’s mission and want to contribute to its growth.”

3. What experience or training has prepared you for this position?

Understanding the candidate’s background helps in assessing their suitability for the role.

Sample answer:

“I’ve spent five years in corporate law, specifically dealing with startups. This has equipped me with the skills to navigate the unique challenges your company might face.”

4. Describe your proudest accomplishments in your legal career. How do you define success?

This question delves into the candidate’s past achievements and their personal definition of success.

Sample answer:

“Successfully negotiating a complex merger was a highlight. For me, success is achieving the best outcome for the company while ensuring all actions are ethically and legally sound.”

5. Recall a situation that required you to seek outside counsel. What factors did you consider? What was the result?

This question evaluates the candidate’s judgment in seeking external expertise.

Sample answer:

“When faced with international patent issues, I sought outside counsel familiar with the specific jurisdictions. Their expertise ensured we secured our patents without issues.”

6. What’s the most complex legal situation you’ve faced at work? What strategy did you use to resolve it?

Understanding past challenges gives insight into the candidate’s problem-solving skills.

Sample answer:

“Dealing with a multi-party lawsuit was challenging. I collaborated with various departments, ensuring we had a cohesive defense strategy, which eventually led to a favorable settlement.”

7. Regarding the previous question, who else was involved in this project? What were their roles?

This question assesses the candidate’s ability to collaborate and delegate.

Sample answer:

“Our CFO, external legal teams, and the PR department were involved. Each played a crucial role in financial assessments, legal defense, and communication strategies, respectively.”

8. Describe a situation where you made a mistake or regretted your decision. How did you handle it?

Admitting mistakes and learning from them is a sign of professional maturity.

Sample answer:

“I once overlooked a clause in a contract. Upon realization, I immediately communicated with the other party to renegotiate, ensuring transparency and rectifying the oversight.”

9. How do you cope with stress at work?

Legal roles can be stressful. This question gauges the candidate’s resilience and coping mechanisms.

Sample answer:

“I prioritize tasks, take regular breaks, and ensure open communication with my team. Meditation also helps me maintain a clear mind.”

10. How would you learn more about our organization during your first week on the job?

Understanding the candidate’s onboarding process can indicate their proactive nature.

Sample answer:

“I’d review all major contracts, meet with department heads to understand their legal concerns, and familiarize myself with company policies and procedures.”

What does a good legal counsel candidate look like?

A strong legal counsel candidate possesses in-depth legal knowledge, excellent communication skills, a proactive approach, and the ability to navigate complex legal scenarios with a clear, strategic mindset.



Legal Counsel Interview Questions

A legal counsel is an in-house legal consultant found in a variety of industries. They may have a background in corporate law, a track record of working in-house, or currently be employed at a law firm with no in-house experience at all.  Once hired, legal counsel will be chiefly responsible for overseeing all the legal aspects of your business. They will safeguard your company’s reputation by ensuring that you steer clear of legal risks. They will also advise you during legal crises.

It goes without saying that hiring the wrong person can be a costly mistake, especially if you are currently experiencing legal troubles or about to undergo major structural changes (e.g. acquisitions, going public). To prevent this scenario from taking place, tailor your questions as closely as you can to your industry and required skills. Find the right legal counsel for your team by adding questions that address industry-specific regulatory or litigation experience.

As always, the questions your candidates ask may be more revealing than the questions you ask. Your most promising candidates will prepare smart and relevant questions, and will ask spontaneous questions throughout the conversation.

Let’s summarize some of the questions and add a few more divided into specific types.

Role-specific questions

  • What interests you about being a legal counsel for our industry?
  • What do you hope to achieve by working at our company?
  • What experience or training has prepared you for this position?
  • Describe your proudest accomplishments in your legal career. How do you define success?
  • Recall a situation that required you to seek outside counsel. What factors did you consider? What was the result?
  • What other types of situations require outside counsel?
  • What’s the most complex legal situation you’ve faced at work? What strategy did you use to resolve it?
  • Regarding the previous question, who else was involved in this project? What were their roles?
  • Describe a situation where you made a mistake or regretted your decision. How did you handle it?
  • How do you cope with stress at work?
  • What kind of training or feedback will help you to excel in this role?
  • Describe a time you had to prioritize conflicting deadlines. How did you arrive at your decision?
  • How would you learn more about our organization during your first week on the job?

 

Frequently asked questions

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