15 Things You Should Never Say In A Law Firm Job Interview

The interview is the most important part of your job search. It’s the time to sell yourself, your work ethic, and your personality to a potential employer. 

And yet it can be difficult to know what not to say in a law firm interview especially if you’re nervous or inexperienced in this type of situation. 

You just want them to like you! But saying the wrong thing at the wrong time could cost you this job opportunity. So here are 30 things that career experts at major law firms have seen candidates do during interviews that completely turn off hiring managers and make them think twice about hiring anyone from that firm again:

1. Choose words carefully to project professionalism.
2. Avoid negative remarks about past employers or colleagues.
3. Don’t overshare personal problems.
4. Steer clear of discussing salary too early.
5. Refrain from mentioning political or controversial views.
6. Focus on your skills and accomplishments.
7. Don’t ask only about vacation time.
8. Avoid showing lack of interest or enthusiasm.
9. Stay away from excessive self-criticism.
10. Don’t ask questions answered by basic research.
11. Refrain from discussing benefits before job offer.
12. Avoid mentioning lack of experience or skills.
13. Don’t bring up unrelated personal experiences.
14. Be cautious about asking overly ambitious questions.
15. Avoid discussing personal issues unless relevant.

Don’t Lie Or Embellish

The law firm interview is more than just a chance to talk about your resume and experience. It’s also an opportunity to show the firm that you’re interested in them, their practice areas, and their clients.

So don’t lie or embellish anything on your resume. If you have no experience with tax law, don’t say that you do it’ll come back to bite you later when the firm asks for references from former employers or classmates who will know whether or not that’s true. 

And if one of your references calls up and asks what exactly it was about the tax law that interested you so much? You’re going to have some explaining to do then!

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from every lawyer movie ever made (and we’ve seen them all), it’s this: lying about having done something wrong can never end well for anyone involved especially those trying desperately not to get fired by bosses who are looking for any excuse whatsoever!

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Don’t Say You’re A Perfectionist

Don’t say you’re a perfectionist. It’s great to be a hard worker, but there’s no need to come across as a perfectionist! As anyone who has ever worked in law knows, there is never going to be some perfect solution or outcome for every problem you face. 

You’ll always find ways that things could have been done better or more efficiently or perhaps more quickly but this is just part of being human. There are only so many hours in the day and only so much time before deadlines are due or trials begin. 

Your goal should be to show that you’re able to tackle problems head-on and find solutions without letting them run away with your attention and energy instead of trying to make everything perfect from the start.

Don’t Say That You Hate The Lawyer Life

Law school is indeed a tough and grueling experience, but you should be prepared to explain how you overcame your challenges. If you didn’t do well in law school, it’s okay to say so! And if you’re planning on becoming a lawyer for the money, then go ahead and say that too. It’s better than saying “I hate lawyers.”

Lawyers have some of the highest stress levels of any profession because they deal with difficult situations every day and sometimes all at once! That doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy their jobs; it just means they need an outlet when things get stressful (which happens often). 

So while it may seem like a good idea to complain about how much work or responsibility your job has required over the years, keep in mind that there are many ways lawyers can relax: golfing at lunchtime; going out with coworkers after work; spending time with family members outside of work hours; etc.

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Don’t Talk Too Much

You should never dominate the conversation. You’re there to answer questions, and that’s it. Don’t talk too much about yourself, your personal life, or your achievements the interviewer knows you’re a person who has done things and done them well. 

They don’t need to hear about how great you are at everything from cooking grilled cheese sandwiches (which is the best thing in the world) to win the Nobel Prize for Physics (which could be an actual achievement for some people).

The same goes for any opinion on anything related to law, politics, or sports teams anything that may come up as part of small talk before getting down to brass tacks will make you look less like someone who can handle themselves professionally and more like an entitled brat with nothing better to do than rant about politics on social media all day long (see above).

Don’t Film A Video Resume

The best way to make a bad first impression is to use a webcam. Recruiters and hiring managers will think you’re trying too hard, and they won’t take you seriously. They’ll also think that the quality of your video resume isn’t very good and that this means you don’t have the skills necessary for the position.

It’s also important not to use any kind of phone or tablet for your cover letter or video resume. The reason for this is because recruiters and hiring managers will see them as unnecessary distractions from what’s important: whether or not candidates can do their jobs well enough to get hired into law firms as associates (or whatever other title they’re aiming for).

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Don’t Talk About The Law Firm’s Competitors

Talking about the competition is a big no-no. Don’t talk about the firm’s competitors, clients, partners, or culture. The interviewer is likely to assume that you have an ax to grind and that your loyalty lies with the competition, not with them.

Don’t discuss the management team either; it’s best to avoid giving personal opinions on them as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, don’t share any negative opinions about marketing or advertising campaigns for other companies that may be similar to what your potential employer does (this also applies even if they are not directly competitive). 

These topics can be slippery slopes for an interviewer who might interpret this information negatively.

Don’t Insult Your Former Law Firm Colleagues Or Clients

This one is pretty obvious, but it bears repeating: you never know who will be reading your interview answers. If you were to say something negative about the person interviewing you, such as “My old boss was a complete idiot,” and that person is also interviewing at another firm, they may share this information with their colleagues there. 

And guess what? That little tidbit could be all anyone needs to know about whether or not they want to hire someone like that a decision that could cost them big bucks in terms of lost business or client referrals!

  • Keep any criticism vague and general.

For example: Instead of saying “I was frustrated by my previous firm’s lackadaisical attitude towards client service,” try something like: “I’m always looking for opportunities where I can work on a team that takes pride in providing excellent customer service.

This way, even if potential employers want more detail about what happened at your last place of employment (and believe me—they probably do), they’ll have to ask first!

Don’t Make The Interview All About Yourself

Don’t make the interview all about yourself. It’s not about how great you are, what you want from the job, or what you want from the interviewer. It’s about them and whether they think that hiring you would be a good idea for their firm.

Don’t brag about your accomplishments. You don’t need to say things like “I graduated at the top of my class” or “I was one of three people who worked on a huge case recently” unless those facts come up in conversation (and even then it might be better to keep quiet). 

The best thing an employer can hear is that someone has shown up early every day since starting work there not that they once won an award while working somewhere else!

Don’t talk too much about what you want from this job or any other jobs beyond this one. 

Employers don’t want commitment-phobes; they prefer candidates who are open-minded and eager for new challenges and if someone is going through multiple interviews in quick succession because he/she keeps changing his mind about which position would suit him/her best. That’s probably not a good sign!

Don’t Say You’re Better Than Other Lawyers

Don’t talk about how you’re smarter, more creative, or harder working than everyone else. It might seem like a good idea to put yourself above the competition, but it will only get in the way of your success in this field. You’ll have plenty of time to prove yourself later on the interview is not the place for it!

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Don’t Discuss Big Projects You Want To Work On Before Joining The Firm

The next thing you should never say in a law firm job interview is something about your goals and aspirations for the future. While it may seem like a good idea to talk about how you want to make partners or take on big projects, don’t do it. These kinds of statements are more likely to get you labeled as an over-ambitious prima donna than anything else.

Don’t Contradict Yourself

You’ve probably heard this one before: be yourself. But what exactly does that mean?

You should never contradict yourself or say one thing and then say the opposite. The job interview is not the place to talk about how much you hate being a lawyer, how much of a perfectionist you are, or how great it was to work with those other lawyers at that other firm, who was better than everyone else in the city.

Don’t film an elaborate video resume; just send over your traditional one with some cover letters and résumés attached as well (don’t forget those!). And don’t talk too much you want people in law firms to want more from their entry-level associates than someone who can ramble on endlessly about their legal prowess.

Don’t Be Negative Or Talk Trash About Former Law Firms, Your Boss, Or Colleagues

Talking about your previous employment history is a good way to show the interviewer you’re a team player it demonstrates that you can work well with others and handle constructive criticism from superiors. 

However, this information mustn’t come across as critical of your past employers or associates. If done appropriately, this should not be an issue: simply state facts about your past jobs straightforwardly without making any comments on how things were handled at those institutions.

For example: “I worked as an associate at Rand Law Firm for three years before joining Thompson & Co.” would be an acceptable answer when asked how long you’ve been practicing law (and why); however saying something like “Rand was horrible!” or “That place was a disaster!

Would be inappropriate and could hurt your chances of landing the job not because it portrays you negatively but because it paints all lawyers at Rand in a harsh light while giving no reason why they should hire you over anyone else there who might be applying for their next opening (or has already submitted their résumé).

Don’t Use Buzzwords Like “Synergy,” “Paradigm,” Or “Out Of The Box Thinking”

Buzzwords are words that are overused in the workplace, such as “synergy,” “paradigm,” or “out of the box thinking.” They can be used positively but should be used sparingly. If you use buzzwords to describe your skills or abilities during an interview, you risk sounding like you’re trying too hard.

The best way to impress an interviewer is by showing them how your experience and personality will fit into their firm’s culture and workflow.

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Be yourself and show it in your interview

Be yourself. The most important thing you can do during a law firm interview is to be yourself. You don’t want to come across as someone who’s trying to be something they’re not, so make sure you’re confident in your skin and comfortable with who you are.

Don’t lie or exaggerate anything on your resume or cover letter. If there’s any information on your resume that isn’t true, it could come out at some point during the interview process and ruin your chances of getting hired by that firm!

Prepare for questions about why you want to work at this law firm specifically (and how their work fits into your overall career plan). 

Practicing answering these kinds of questions beforehand will help ensure that when it comes time for them asking them during an interview.

Everything is smooth sailing since then all parties know exactly where everyone stands about interest levels and wants/needs regarding employment opportunities at said firm especially since this knowledge could mean life or death when deciding whether one should accept an offer from the said company after having been offered one. 

Both sides need enough information before reaching any decisions like those involved here because once such agreements have been made they become legally binding obligations under penalty citation.

If broken contract terms occur later down the line it would cause serious problems between clients (who hire attorneys) calling off cases due to lack of professional trustworthiness among other things so if anything else remembers: always do research beforehand so that by starting strong upfront then hopefully ending strong too!


As you can see, there is a lot to cover in your law firm interview. But the most important thing to remember is that you want to be yourself let your personality shine through and show how well you’d fit at the firm. When you do that, it will make your interviewers feel like they already know who they’re hiring.

Further Reading

Here are additional resources that provide insights into what not to say during job interviews:

Indeed – What Not to Say in a Job Interview: Explore this comprehensive guide from Indeed that highlights phrases and topics to avoid during interviews.

FindLaw – 10 Things You Should Never Say in a Legal Job Interview: Discover specific advice for legal job interviews and learn about phrases that may hinder your chances of success.

Energy Resourcing – 15 Things You Should Never Say in a Job Interview: This blog post provides valuable insights for job seekers across various industries, offering tips on what not to say during interviews.


What are some common phrases to avoid during a job interview?

Using negative language about past employers or colleagues and discussing personal problems are some common phrases to steer clear of during a job interview.

How can mentioning salary expectations impact the interview process?

While discussing salary is important, bringing it up too early might give the impression that you’re only interested in the monetary aspect rather than the job itself.

Is it advisable to reveal political or controversial opinions during an interview?

No, it’s generally recommended to avoid discussing political or controversial topics during interviews to maintain a professional atmosphere.

Can asking about vacation time during an interview have negative implications?

Asking about vacation time too early might make it seem like you’re more focused on time off rather than your potential contributions to the company.

Should I avoid asking questions about the company’s challenges or issues?

While it’s important to research the company, asking only about challenges might convey a negative perception. Balance your questions with inquiries about the company’s strengths and opportunities as well.