What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

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Anonymous User
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What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:13 pm

I assume anything about firm health. Anything about maternity leave.

But how about asking about practice groups. Does that make it seem like I didn't do my homework. Because it seems like firm webpages, nalp forms, and reality don't often match.

SUMMON THESEALOCUST

crazyblink653
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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby crazyblink653 » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I assume anything about firm health. Anything about maternity leave.

But how about asking about practice groups. Does that make it seem like I didn't do my homework. Because it seems like firm webpages, nalp forms, and reality don't often match.

SUMMON THESEALOCUST


i've actually been told that inquiring as to firm health can actually benefit you, as it shows you've done your research and are trying to make the most prudent decision. on the other hand, i've also heard that some recruiters don't like talking about it, so there's the chance it could backfire. but i don't think it's a definite "don't ask" type question, especially not in this economy.

also, i would check this out: viewtopic.php?f=23&t=158035

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:27 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I assume anything about firm health. Anything about maternity leave.

But how about asking about practice groups. Does that make it seem like I didn't do my homework. Because it seems like firm webpages, nalp forms, and reality don't often match.

SUMMON THESEALOCUST


I think it is entirely acceptable to inquire about the health and stability of a firm. It shows that you are forward-thinking and looking to make a long-term commitment, rather than just searching for a summer job. It also shows a level of maturity most people won't have, since most will be too preoccupied with more superficial details of the firm. I think the stupid questions are ones that could easily be answered through a few minutes of independent research.

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RMstratosphere
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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby RMstratosphere » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:29 pm

It doesn't seem to me that asking about the financial strength of the firm is completely out of bounds. I'm not sure I would say something like: "So, Mr. Latham partner- any more life ruining, unannounced layoffs coming down the pipeline?" But, it does seem to me that you can tactfully approach the subject, especially if you know the firm is doing well.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:29 pm

The smart thing would be to find out for yourself which firms are in good financial health. When you interview with a firm that you know is in good financial health, you go in and ask what the firm does that contributes to its good financial health. Thats a winner of a question right there because it shows that you not only did your research about the firm, but you are giving the guy a chance to only highlight positives, and would never lead to discussion of layoffs or weaknesses.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby swc65 » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:32 pm

I have been told to stay away from questions about money (bonuses and such) and hours (i.e. can I leave at 5:30 everyday?). But firm personality/culture, rotational v. specialty (you should have looked this up before but you can confirm while in the interview) and such should be OK.

Questions about the firm's financial health are probably best left for when you receive an SA offer. honestly, it isn't even relevant before then. When you are comparing offers you want to know which firms is healthier, but not at a screening interview. At a screening interview you are selling yourself in 20 minutes. You would probably be wise to use the five minutes it would take to discuss the financial health of the firm for discussing what is great about you.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby Cavalier » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:47 pm

I would save questions about firm health and firm benefits until after you have an offer. Asking a relatively healthy firm what has contributed to its success is fair, as noted above, but bringing up recent problems (e.g. OMM's departures, Latham's layoffs) or simply asking "how's the firm doing financially" should be avoided.

As far as practice group questions, you don't want to ask questions that are easily answerable with a little research, but you also shouldn't feel so restricted by what you can find out online that you only have unusually odd and specific questions to ask. Asking what a firm's strong practice areas are makes you look unprepared, but asking for more information about the type of work a practice group typically does is fine.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:52 pm

Think it's bad to ask the same questions to different attorneys during a callback? Depends on the question?

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby kaiser » Thu Aug 04, 2011 3:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Think it's bad to ask the same questions to different attorneys during a callback? Depends on the question?


I think it would be totally fine. For example, if you ask how they became interested in their particular area of expertise, everyone has a different story, and it gives you a springboard to continue the conversation organically based on anything they tell you about their experiences. No harm in asking that to every single one.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:30 pm

I think asking about a firm's financial health is perfectly legitimate, but I suppose it depends on your mindset and how good your resume is.

You have to realize - firms aren't just interviewing applicants, its more like a professional sports draft - they want the BEST prospect they can get! This really is how it is.

Likewise, as a top candidate, you want the best firm YOU can get. So, don't be shy, ask them to tell you why you shoud choose a career at their firm rather than their competitors. Part of that inquiry depends on a firm's fiscal health, because that directly impacts how your career will develop.

This is a fine line, obviously, and I'm not saying be arrogant - there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, so don't cross it. But, know that if you are getting OCI bids, you are a competitor. However, this advice applies less if you are a median performer grade-wise, or if you feel desperate and lucky to have gotten an interview. Just be confident. People like confident people. Act like you have a secret, like you KNOW something, like a cool secret that you aren't telling anyone.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby Glock » Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:48 pm

I usually ask about how much vacation time first years get. Don't forget to inquire about how robust the drink selection in the break room is.

The purpose of asking interviewers questions is to demonstrate a sincere interest in the firm and demonstrate a reasonable knowledge level about the firm. Questions should be tailored to this end. Questions that qualify as TMI, borderline insulting, or judgmental are to be avoided in screening.

Firm health questions are no-go for me. You will not learn anything useful and you risk offending. I would also avoid diversity questions, layoff and no-offer rates, and partnership-odds discussions in the screening interview. That is callback material. You are just being type-cast in screening. Don't be a whiner.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2011 6:33 pm

Glock wrote:I usually ask about how much vacation time first years get. Don't forget to inquire about how robust the drink selection in the break room is.

The purpose of asking interviewers questions is to demonstrate a sincere interest in the firm and demonstrate a reasonable knowledge level about the firm. Questions should be tailored to this end. Questions that qualify as TMI, borderline insulting, or judgmental are to be avoided in screening.

Firm health questions are no-go for me. You will not learn anything useful and you risk offending. I would also avoid diversity questions, layoff and no-offer rates, and partnership-odds discussions in the screening interview. That is callback material. You are just being type-cast in screening. Don't be a whiner.


Disagree on diversity questions; that's incredibly stupid advice (unless the firm is notorious for not hiring minorities or something--can't think of anywhere that fits this description, but there might be--in which case why the hell are you interviewing there to begin with?). Especially if the interviewer happens to be the same minority/same sort of minority (racial, religious, LGBT, etc.) as yourself, you can ask about support within the firm. I know the big NYC firms try to match students who make clear on their resumes that they are some sort of minority with an interviewer also of that minority, as far as possible, at OCI. That's not coincidence.

I think the best strategy, though, is to err on the side of caution. If it's something you're hesitant about asking, don't ask it. Sure, asking Cleary or SullCrom about how they avoided any layoffs or cutbacks during the recession would be a great fluff question (and it probably would be), but better to avoid tough topic areas entirely unless you're confident.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby Glock » Thu Aug 04, 2011 6:41 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Glock wrote:I usually ask about how much vacation time first years get. Don't forget to inquire about how robust the drink selection in the break room is.

The purpose of asking interviewers questions is to demonstrate a sincere interest in the firm and demonstrate a reasonable knowledge level about the firm. Questions should be tailored to this end. Questions that qualify as TMI, borderline insulting, or judgmental are to be avoided in screening.

Firm health questions are no-go for me. You will not learn anything useful and you risk offending. I would also avoid diversity questions, layoff and no-offer rates, and partnership-odds discussions in the screening interview. That is callback material. You are just being type-cast in screening. Don't be a whiner.


Disagree on diversity questions; that's incredibly stupid advice (unless the firm is notorious for not hiring minorities or something--can't think of anywhere that fits this description, but there might be--in which case why the hell are you interviewing there to begin with?). Especially if the interviewer happens to be the same minority/same sort of minority (racial, religious, LGBT, etc.) as yourself, you can ask about support within the firm. I know the big NYC firms try to match students who make clear on their resumes that they are some sort of minority with an interviewer also of that minority, as far as possible, at OCI. That's not coincidence.

I think the best strategy, though, is to err on the side of caution. If it's something you're hesitant about asking, don't ask it. Sure, asking Cleary or SullCrom about how they avoided any layoffs or cutbacks during the recession would be a great fluff question (and it probably would be), but better to avoid tough topic areas entirely unless you're confident.




I got it from a hiring partner at a V50, so I will pass along that he is wrong. Not every interviewer is gung-ho about diversity preference hiring, and thus it comes with downsides. When there are other no-risk questions to ask I don't take the risk. YMMV.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 04, 2011 6:51 pm

Glock wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Glock wrote:I usually ask about how much vacation time first years get. Don't forget to inquire about how robust the drink selection in the break room is.

The purpose of asking interviewers questions is to demonstrate a sincere interest in the firm and demonstrate a reasonable knowledge level about the firm. Questions should be tailored to this end. Questions that qualify as TMI, borderline insulting, or judgmental are to be avoided in screening.

Firm health questions are no-go for me. You will not learn anything useful and you risk offending. I would also avoid diversity questions, layoff and no-offer rates, and partnership-odds discussions in the screening interview. That is callback material. You are just being type-cast in screening. Don't be a whiner.


Disagree on diversity questions; that's incredibly stupid advice (unless the firm is notorious for not hiring minorities or something--can't think of anywhere that fits this description, but there might be--in which case why the hell are you interviewing there to begin with?). Especially if the interviewer happens to be the same minority/same sort of minority (racial, religious, LGBT, etc.) as yourself, you can ask about support within the firm. I know the big NYC firms try to match students who make clear on their resumes that they are some sort of minority with an interviewer also of that minority, as far as possible, at OCI. That's not coincidence.

I think the best strategy, though, is to err on the side of caution. If it's something you're hesitant about asking, don't ask it. Sure, asking Cleary or SullCrom about how they avoided any layoffs or cutbacks during the recession would be a great fluff question (and it probably would be), but better to avoid tough topic areas entirely unless you're confident.




I got it from a hiring partner at a V50, so I will pass along that he is wrong. Not every interviewer is gung-ho about diversity preference hiring, and thus it comes with downsides. When there are other no-risk questions to ask I don't take the risk. YMMV.


Dude, we're not talking about, "So, do you hire black people with bad grades, or what, lol?" We're talking about asking about diversity support groups within the firm, which is totally legitimate to ask about.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby Glock » Thu Aug 04, 2011 6:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Dude, we're not talking about, "So, do you hire black people with bad grades, or what, lol?" We're talking about asking about diversity support groups within the firm, which is totally legitimate to ask about.




Got that, and I never said or implied otherwise. My point is that I dodge diversity questions in screening interviews because there are plenty of downsides with passive racism. It is callback material for me, and I qualify as a diversity candidate.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby ilovesf » Sat Aug 04, 2012 11:58 pm

Glock wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Dude, we're not talking about, "So, do you hire black people with bad grades, or what, lol?" We're talking about asking about diversity support groups within the firm, which is totally legitimate to ask about.




Got that, and I never said or implied otherwise. My point is that I dodge diversity questions in screening interviews because there are plenty of downsides with passive racism. It is callback material for me, and I qualify as a diversity candidate.

What about asking questions at a firm that has a women's leadership program or something similar? would you put that in the same category as diversity?

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby mrloblaw » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:19 am

Re 'Is your firm sinking?':

I brought up a firm health question in a callback with a senior associate as diplomatically as I possibly could, and only after the associate had been talking about how hard it was to meet his billables requirement that year to avoid being laid off. It started a nice discussion about how to avoid layoffs in a shitty economy, which concluded with him mentioning that I should probably never ask such a thing with the partners I was meeting with later in the day.

Probably a useless anecdote, but just throwing it out there.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby rayiner » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:The smart thing would be to find out for yourself which firms are in good financial health. When you interview with a firm that you know is in good financial health, you go in and ask what the firm does that contributes to its good financial health. Thats a winner of a question right there because it shows that you not only did your research about the firm, but you are giving the guy a chance to only highlight positives, and would never lead to discussion of layoffs or weaknesses.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby piccolittle » Sun Aug 05, 2012 1:11 am

mrloblaw wrote:Re 'Is your firm sinking?':

I brought up a firm health question in a callback with a senior associate as diplomatically as I possibly could, and only after the associate had been talking about how hard it was to meet his billables requirement that year to avoid being laid off. It started a nice discussion about how to avoid layoffs in a shitty economy, which concluded with him mentioning that I should probably never ask such a thing with the partners I was meeting with later in the day.

Probably a useless anecdote, but just throwing it out there.

Somehow this came up in the interview with the most senior partner I saw on a recent callback. Was a natural flow from his advice on choosing law firms, and lead in to being able to make a good joke about avoiding firms that ATL can make puns about (e.g. "Dewey have enough money? Howrey gonna pay our bills?" etc) - think I'd seen that one on TLS so tyft.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby gyarados » Sun Aug 05, 2012 6:57 am

I've heard two different views on asking about the particular focus of a practice group / type of clients. On one hand, it shows interest. On the other hand, all that info is publicly available if you dig deep enough. Any thoughts?

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:08 am

Glock wrote:The purpose of asking interviewers questions is to demonstrate a sincere interest in the firm and demonstrate a reasonable knowledge level about the firm. Questions should be tailored to this end. Questions that qualify as TMI, borderline insulting, or judgmental are to be avoided in screening.

This really cannot be stressed enough. The screening interview is really not the time to ask questions because you want to know the answers. Everything you bring up should be about selling yourself. You are not going to get a candid answer to a tough question anyway, and the time you're entitled to ask is after getting an offer, not during the interview.

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Re: What are stupid questions to ask at OCI screener interviews?

Postby swc65 » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:25 am

ilovesf wrote:
Glock wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Dude, we're not talking about, "So, do you hire black people with bad grades, or what, lol?" We're talking about asking about diversity support groups within the firm, which is totally legitimate to ask about.




Got that, and I never said or implied otherwise. My point is that I dodge diversity questions in screening interviews because there are plenty of downsides with passive racism. It is callback material for me, and I qualify as a diversity candidate.

What about asking questions at a firm that has a women's leadership program or something similar? would you put that in the same category as diversity?

Did you post @1158 to necro this thread this on the one year anniversary of its death? Lol :)




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