Client Interviews: General Interview Tips

After years of conducting interviews, LPC has compiled a list of interview tips to be considered in your firm’s interview program.  While some may seem obvious, take a moment to truly consider each.

  • Listen actively and intentionally.
    • There is a proven correlation between the success of an interview and how little the interviewer talks. Active, intentional listening is critical in eliciting the most beneficial information. It may be as simple as restating what your interviewee has said. “In other words, you…” or “So if I understand correctly, then…” or “Can you give me an example?” If you heard, understood, and restated correctly, your confirmation will reinforce your connection and help the client to feel at ease (If you misheard or misunderstood, then this is her or his chance to clarify.)
    • Probe—Often a client will provide unanticipated information—like a friendly deposition you should be prepared to go “off script” which often provides the most useful information. “Tell me more” and “What do you mean by that” are two probing questions.
  • Do not interrupt
    • Not only is it rude, but you may miss the end of an important response and throw the client’s thought process off track.
  • Do not let silence make you uncomfortable.
    • Resist the urge to fill in silence with a comment or another question.  Give your interviewee the chance to fully think through and answer the question at hand.
  • Do not be defensive.
    • Let’s face it. You want the client to be honest with you. You are soliciting critical, constructive feedback, some of which could be painful to hear. Be sure that whoever conducts the interview is trained in how to respond appropriately to criticism. The tendency may be to protect the firm or make excuses, but refrain. Rather, acknowledge a mistake without placing blame. The interview is an opportunity for open, honest communication—not a “who’s right, who’s wrong” conversation.
  • Do not sell.
    • The interview is not the appropriate setting in which to sell your firm’s services. One of the primary goals of the interview is to increase revenue indirectly by growing the client relationship. You can educate your client about your firm’s other relevant practice areas, but do so subtly. The focus should be on your client, their experience, and your firm’s client service.
Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson is founder and principal of Law Practice Consultants, LLC of Newton, MA. Law Practice Consultants offers consulting, coaching and training services that help law firms respond to the challenges of today’s highly competitive legal marketplace. For more information visit
Peter Johnson

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