in Careers Advice, Interviews

Legal Job Interview Question and Answer – Can you act on your own initiative


Although this is a closed question with potentially a simple yes or no answer, it does give you the opportunity to get over to the interviewer how you are quite comfortable working on your own and to demonstrate specific examples of times you have perhaps introduced new methods of working or increased sales through your own actions but at the same time making it clear that if this is a fairly junior role you will always seek authorisation before taking any actions where you feel it is appropriate to do so.

Examples of Answers

“Yes.  A specific example of a time I have done this in my career to date was when I identified a potential client whilst out of the office who later generated orders worth in the region of £2.5 million. Without any delay I instigated a meeting with them and was successful in selling the company to them.”


“Yes. There are numerous occasions when in my current role I am required to work on my own initiative and to generate my own caseload.  My current employers are very pleased with this side of my work and it has been mentioned in my most recent annual review.”


“Yes.  I feel the work of a modern professional is not only to undertake fee earning work under supervision where appropriate but also to go one step further for any clients and service any other needs they may have or make cross referrals where necessary.  My current employers give me a high degree of autonomy and I am expected to work on my own initiative to create further lines of business.”

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at