Job Interview Tips for New Paralegals

A new reality show emerged, and it centers around one of the world’s scariest occurrences: being interviewed for a job. The Job Interview brings the interview process live to your television. It involves real employers interviewing real people for real jobs. And job interviews? They are nerve-wracking. You’re being judged for your merits, your education, and your experience in a very short amount of time. In honor of The Job Interview, here are tips new paralegals can use for their interviews.

Do a little research on the law firm, law office, attorney, or business. A few days before you go to your interview, get online and do some research. Look for news articles related to cases the firm or attorney recently handled. If you’re interviewing for a position with a corporation, look for recent mentions in the news about a project or other goodwill piece. Law firm and company blogs (or news pages) are great for finding this sort of information. Make sure that you look on LinkedIn, too.

Take a copy of your resume, cover letter, references, and a writing sample with you. While most job openings require that you submit your resume, cover letter, and references in advance, you should take a copy of these items (and a writing sample) with you. Even if they don’t need it, taking extras with you shows the potential employer that you’re prepared.

Dress to impress. Keep in mind that the legal field is highly conservative. Make sure that your wardrobe matches that environment. If you’re offered the job, you may find that the dress code is more relaxed. However, for your interview you should dress to impress. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need designer clothing. Simple black slacks or a black skirt that goes to your knees are classic wardrobe pieces that are extremely versatile. Button down long sleeve shirts are also inexpensive and great additions to any wardrobe.

Be prepared to answer various questions. Of course, there are standard interview questions such as:

  • Tell me about a time that you worked with someone that you didn’t necessarily get along with.
  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?

There are also questions related directly to paralegal interviews. If you don’t have paralegal experience, you must be ready to transfer over your previous experience into your answer to show how you’re still prepared for the job. Common questions asked in paralegal interviews include:

  • What experience do you have that is directly related to this position?
  • How do you keep organized when you have multiple clients / cases?
  • How do you think your previous experience in a law office will help you in this job?
  • How do you deal with difficult people?
  • How do you cope in a fast-paced / stressful environment?
  • Why did you become a paralegal?
  • Do you plan to go to law school?
  • Name three subjects you took in school that you believe can help you in this position.
  • What motivates you?

There are several websites that can give you great insight into the potential questions that you may be asked during your interview. Keep in mind that a job interview is also your opportunity to interview the law office to see if you’d be a good fit. You can ask questions, too.

Send a thank you note the same day as your interview. Don’t wait until the day after or a week later. Send a thank you note to your interviewers the same day as your interview. You can send one by mail or you can send it via email if you previously corresponded via email with the interviewer. This is a great way to make yourself stand out.

Remember, take the time to prepare for your paralegal interview. Practice your interview skills. Learn about the company. Then, go out and get the job of your dreams!

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