It’s no secret that the key to most things in life—including job interviews—is preparation. When it comes to job interviews, some things are common knowledge, like dressing professionally. But have you ever thought about briskly walking up a flight of stairs prior to your interview? There’s a reason you should (and we cover it below).
Though creating advantages for yourself is important for any type of job interview, this article will focus on interviewing tips and tricks for paralegal or legal assistant jobs.
Read on to learn about interviewing tips that are exclusive to the legal industry.
Six Tips to Ace Your Paralegal Interview
1. Project Confidence
Whether you are giving a presentation or meeting a first date, confidence is key. Being confident during an interview lets an employer know that you’ll be confident in the workplace too. An article by Kaplan on confidence in the workplace states that “employers benefit from confident employees because they are more positive contributors, more productive, good motivators and make great role models.”
Employment experts Career Sidekick and U.S. News & World Report, offer advice on how to project confidence.
- Show Positivity. First and foremost, hiring managers look at who will be a good fit for their team, and positive team players are often sought after.
- Dress in a way that commands respect. Select clothing that is professional and fits well.
- Use strong body positioning. Think about taking up space with your body (versus trying to make your body smaller, which conveys weakness). And your mother was right—sit up straight.
- Make eye contact. Eye contact shows that you are engaged in the conversation. Make eye contact with interviewers both while you are talking, and while you are listening.
- Speak slowly. This gives you time to answer questions thoughtfully. In addition, confident people aren’t afraid to take their time.
- Turn off your cell phone. You want to be present in the meeting.
2. Study Common Paralegal Interview Questions
Though paralegal interview questions may vary depending on the type of law firm, there are several standard questions you can prepare for in advance. Here are a few of the more frequently asked questions in the paralegal profession, compiled from The Balance Careers and My Perfect Resume:
Possible Paralegal Interview Questions
- What made you decide to become a paralegal?
- Do you intend to apply to law school?
- Tell me about any experience you have in dealing with sensitive and confidential information.
- Do you have experience in the paralegal field? If so, tell me about it.
- What steps do you take to stay up-to-date in the legal industry?
- How has your education prepared you to work as a paralegal?
- Do you prefer working independently or as part of a team?
- How do you deal with stressful situations?
- How do you ensure accuracy at work?
- Tell me about a time when you had to interact with a difficult client.
3. Treat an Interview as a Conversation
The best interviews don’t feel like interviews, but instead like compelling conversations. Remember that it’s just as important for you to learn about the company as it is for the company to learn about you.
Extensively research the company or firm that is hiring. It will give you a sense of whether it’s a place that aligns with your goals and values, and it will also allow you to ask more thoughtful questions at the end of the interview. Here are a few interview questions that you should consider asking:
- What are the company’s values?
- What does success look like in this position, and how do you measure it?
- Who will I be working with directly?
- What do you consider the most challenging part of this position?
- Are there opportunities for professional development? If so, what are they?
4. Make the Day’s Logistics Seamless
All the question preparation in the world won’t help you if you can’t find the office building. Here are a few things you can do in advance to make interview day less stressful.
- Plan your route to the interview in advance, and leave extra time in case of delays.
- Bring work samples along with clean copies of your resume.
- Touch base with your references before the interview to make sure that they are available, and to give them notice that they might be contacted. Be prepared to provide a list at the interview.
- Get interviewer contact information during the interview (or soon after) so that you can send thank you notes and follow up with any questions.
5. Get Your Adrenaline Out Before the Interview
It’s natural to be nervous before an interview, and that means that your adrenaline will be pumping. A Forbes article on interviewing suggests walking briskly around the block or quickly walking up and down a flight of stairs (being careful not to mess up your appearance) in order to take your focus out of your mind and onto your body. Since stress management is important for those working in the legal industry, learning tricks to manage your adrenaline and stress levels can be important for self-care in your future role.
6. Review Your Paralegal Materials
A U.S. News & World Report article states that it’s not just about talking the talk—it’s about walking the walk. According to the article, candidates who seem to be ‘all talk’ are one of the biggest concerns for hiring managers. Candidates who can prove that they have the necessary skills to do the job are going to go further in the interview process.
Review a list of common paralegal skills prior to your interview, including technology, organization, research and investigative skills. Think of how these skills can be specifically applied to the paralegal profession. Find examples of ways that you are proficient in these skills, and be ready to discuss this during the interview.
Career Outlook of a Paralegal
The need for paralegals and legal assistant jobs is also growing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (accessed December 20, 2019) employment is expected to grow 12%—much faster than the average—through 2028.
There are three paths to become a paralegal: Pursue an intensive paralegal certificate program, complete an undergraduate degree in paralegal studies, or receive on the job training from a supervising attorney.
Take the Next Step in Your Law Career with Boston University Online Paralegal Studies Certificate Program
BU’s flexible online Paralegal Studies Certificate Program gives students living anywhere access to expert hands-on training from a university renowned for academic excellence. Whether students have prior legal experience or are transitioning into the field, the program’s instructors and curriculum provide learners with distinct benefits and the professional know-how that today’s employers seek.
Value Colleges ranks it as a Top 5 program for its focus on professional development and academic excellence.
Request a Brochure
To learn more about the online Paralegal Studies Program, contact an Enrollment Advisor at (888) 700-3966 or fill out the form below to download a free brochure.
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