Once you earn your paralegal degree online, you’re ready to start looking for a job. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into finding the right position, even for someone who has years of experience in the field. You can network with family and friends to find employers, attend career fairs and visit various career sites to help you find a potential job and hopefully help you land that first interview.
Interviewing with a company is an exciting experience. Interviews a way for you to highlight your skills and the strong qualities that you will bring to the position. It’s important to make a good first impression, especially as a legal professional. This is why it’s a good idea to prepare for common interview questions and ones specific to your experience as a paralegal.
Here are seven paralegal interview questions to prepare for:
1. Why did you pursue a career as a paralegal?
Your answer helps employers discover what motivates you. Think of it as an opportunity to show potential employers how passionate you are about your career path and what first sparked your interest in the profession. You could also discuss previous jobs you’ve had that helped push you toward your career choice.
2. What work experience do you have? What legal tasks have you been responsible for in a previous or current position?
Employers want to see if you have the skills needed to fulfill a particular role in the company or firm. You might need hard skills such as a knowledge of legal documents, procedures or processes, but employers are also looking for soft skills such as problem-solving, communication and leadership. Never underestimate the value of your soft skills. Some hard skills can be taught on the job, but it can be more challenging to teach soft skills.
Paralegals work on a wide variety of assignments that require critical thinking. By demonstrating how you communicate effectively, have strong organizational skills and can manage your time well, you can show the interviewer that you are well-suited for the position.
3. How are your legal research skills?
Paralegals who work with attorneys are tasked with a lot of legal research. This is because the attorney’s rates are often very expensive and they have to focus on other things. As a paralegal, you help by providing them with valuable research.
It’s important to be familiar with the legal process and where you should look for credible information. This is the perfect opportunity to highlight or showcase any paralegal software that you have experience with or are interested in learning how to use. Employers want to see that you are familiar with and comfortable with legal research.
4. How organized are you and how do you check the accuracy of your work?
Lawyers rely on the accuracy of their information and depend heavily on paralegals to ensure the information is correct. Employers look for candidates who are careful and precise so that work gets done effectively. Some of your daily tasks as a paralegal can include drafting legal documents, filing important documents, contacting clients and helping lawyers prepare legal cases. You should show your interviewer that you are detail-oriented in all aspects of your job and that you take accountability very seriously.
5. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult situation.
The interviewers wants to see that you’re able to effectively handle challenging situations. Come prepared to tell your interviewer about a time when you had a difficult project, dealt with a disgruntled client or worked under a very tight time constraint. Speak to why that situation was difficult and exactly how you overcame those challenges. It is best to stick with a professional experience when asked this question. Employers will be looking to see if you can stay focused and positive when faced with setbacks.
6. What are your plans?
This answer can vary. Maybe you want to apply for law school, or maybe you’re happy with your paralegal degree. No matter what you want to do, you should show your interviewer that you’re eager to grow and learn. Employers don’t want to hire employees who settle for the status quo. Show the employer that you have long-term goals and that you have plans in place to attain those goals.
7. Why should we hire you? What skills would you bring to our firm?
Maybe you have a lot of relevant work experience, or you’re passionate about a particular area of law. Either way, show the employer why hiring you would be beneficial for them. Your interviewer has likely asked this question to other candidates, so make sure your response stands out. Conduct some research about the company and the job position before the interview so you can be prepared to speak to why this would be a good fit for you. Let your personality and passion shine through while remaining professional.
Reviewing the above questions can help you prepare for your interview, but here are a few more general interview tips that might help you land the job:
- Dress professionally and avoid wearing too much jewelry, makeup, perfume or cologne. You want the interviewer to be focused on you and not what you’re wearing.
- Take a moment before answering each question so that you can provide a well thought out answer. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification about a question so that you answer it completely.
- Give your interviewer your full attention. Silence your phone and have it put away where it cannot distract you.
- After your interview, it’s often a good idea to write a short letter or an email thanking your interviewers for their time and for the opportunity to interview with the company or firm.
Looking for more job interview tips? Herzing University’s Career Development Services can help!