Interview tips for paralegals
30th July 2014
Rather than giving you a long list of possible questions and answers that may come up in a paralegal job interview, this guide will offer interview tips as well as an insight into the skills and attributes a legal employer will be looking for, giving you the best possible chance of employment.
Because it is never easy to try and guess what questions may come up in an interview, particularly when it comes to legal recruitment in the UK, this guide will try to offer a fool-proof way for paralegals to prepare for all future interviews.
Rather than preparing stock answers to interview questions that may or may not crop up in a legal assistant interview, it is far better to gain a greater understanding of what the employer is looking for from their candidates. This includes bearing in mind the skills that they will be looking out for.
The main skills that an employer will be looking for from a paralegal are:
- Research and an analytical mind-set
- Writing skills
- The ability to make quick and correct judgements
- Attention to detail
Each one of these skills can prove vital in a paralegal role and will be at the top of a recruiter’s list during the interview process. Like any job, it is important to display these skills through real life examples, so demonstrate your communication skills as well as patience and confidentiality in the interview so that the recruiter knows that they can trust you to get the job done to their standard.
Paralegals have to be efficient and organised, displaying impressive time management skills as the legal sector is one that involves long hours for all involved, so if you can get something done quickly and done well, your new boss will thank you for it.
Research and writing skills are all part and parcel of being a paralegal as well as exceptional attention to detail to help pick out specifics from contracts and deals.
Detailing your experience as a legal executive, whether it has been in in-house litigation legal jobs or in private practice, is equally important in a job interview as it is this instance that can offer further examples of your skills and give the recruiter an idea of what you are like in a working environment. Remember to give specific examples of where you achieved things and don’t be afraid to explain where you may have gone wrong in the past as this can prove that you are able to learn from your mistakes.
Be sure to give examples from your previous experience as a paralegal of how you have prioritised your workload, planned your time and the systems that you use to do so. Also be sure to give examples of your experience with specific tools and software, such as LexisNexis, Concordance, CaseMap.
Finally, above all, ensure that you show real enthusiasm for the role. This includes offering your understanding of the company and the position, and specifically how you can fit into the company with your specific skills and working attitude. As a paralegal is often the face of the company you will want to show how you can deliver professionalism at all times and an interview is the perfect place to display how you can remain calm under pressure and give a good impression.
Finally, display your enthusiasm for the role by asking engaging questions at the end of the interview. Show your interest in being a paralegal, and the company itself, ask something that shows that you are interested in the future of the company and the role, and show that you are keen to progress within that specific company – rather than with someone else!