When you are interviewing for a paralegal position, your interviewer will ask you questions designed to ascertain whether you have the necessary skills to perform your prospective job duties. Organization, research skills and good people skills are some of the more important abilities that employers look for.
Research and Administrative Skills
As a paralegal, you will be providing support to attorneys in a number of ways, including research. Make sure that you let the interviewer know about specific research-related skills and experience, including your familiarity with using legal databases such as Westlaw and Lexis/Nexis as well as your ability to research using a law library. Relevant traits also include being detail-oriented while also seeing the big picture and being able to select the data you need from a vast sea of information. When you are asked about your research experience, give a comprehensive answer that showcases all of your relevant skills.
Another indispensable quality that employers look for in a paralegal is the ability to stay highly organized. Paralegals are responsible for many different tasks, from calendaring to research. Missing a deadline could have disastrous results. Interviewers will ask how you plan your day to ensure that all your job duties are performed correctly. Your answer should be both comprehensive and highly specific. Tell the interviewer about the systems and methods that you use for filing and taking notes, as well as about any paralegal software you use. You should also describe the skills that enable you to prioritize your tasks, focus in spite of interruptions and stay on top of numerous deadlines.
In addition to performing administrative and research tasks, a paralegal also frequently interacts with clients, court personnel and other attorneys’ offices. You will be asked about your experience with telephone and in-person interactions. Paralegals are also often responsible for conduction client interviews and giving clients information. At times, these conversations may get confrontational due to a client’s difficult personality or emotional reaction. Your prospective employer wants to know how you handle difficult interpersonal situations. Relevant traits include patience, sensitivity and empathy. Make sure to give specific examples of complicated situations that you handled well, explaining what skills and methods you used.
In the course of their duties, paralegals often come into contact with sensitive and confidential information. Your interviewer will want to gauge your understanding of a paralegal’s duties in respect to confidentiality. A good answer to questions about your experience with sensitive information should highlight the fact that you understand the importance of maintaining client privacy. The duties of legal personnel in respect to confidentiality are governed by specific laws and regulations. In order to be in compliance, a paralegal would need to regularly review these laws and check for changes and updates. Make sure that you include the fact that you take theses important steps to stay current and in compliance with confidentiality rules.
Law offices are often high-pressure environments and paralegals that want to function successfully must be able to adapt quickly, multitask and stay calm under pressure. Be prepared to also answer questions about your work ethic and your ability to deliver high-quality work product under tight deadlines. To illustrate that you have these traits, tell the interviewer about incidents in the past where you have displayed the ability to keep it together in stressful situation and produce great work even under less-than-ideal circumstances.
Prepare for your paralegal interview by thinking about potential questions and mapping out effective answers. In order to convince your interviewer that you possess the right qualities, your answers should be comprehensive and address all potential aspects of the question. For maximum effectiveness, prepare some examples from your past that highlight desirable qualities and be ready to explain your decision-making process in those situations. Preparing for your interview will help you deliver effective answers that will positively impress your interviewer.