Paralegal Interview Tips to Land Your Dream Job

When I was starting out, many people told me that I will need a few years of experience being a legal assistant/secretary and/or a paralegal degree before landing a paralegal position. To me, that was quite disappointing. I did not have the experience, but I had the degree.

Being a paralegal and having a paralegal degree are two different things. This is why most law firms don’t hire a paralegal graduate without experience right out of paralegal school. You don’t learn much from your paralegal certificate/associate that applies to your day-to-day job. You only learn how to be a professional and a very basic understanding of legal research and some drafting.

It will not enable you to be a paralegal without proper training and experience. However, I have always dreamt of becoming a paralegal right after graduation, and I am here to show you that it is possible and you can get your dream paralegal job with just an interview. You will need to apply broadly to jobs without letting the years of desired experience limit you.

You will need to be comfortable with rejections. You will receive a lot of rejections, and you have to use this as an advantage to leverage yourself and improve your resume. However, once you envision yourself in a place you can be happy working at and successfully get a paralegal interview, then you are golden.

Here are 10 paralegal interview tips that helped me get my first paralegal job without experience in the field:

1. Practice

Be prepared: Practice for your paralegal interview as if you have to practice for a test. You can best be prepared for an interview by going over the job description and becoming familiar with every word and every program the job description mentions. Brainstorm some possible answers that can tailor to the job duties that you have done in your previous job/volunteer experiences. Here are Paralegal Interview Questions to be Prepared For.

It does not have to be directly related, but you must acquaint yourself with the terms and be able to speak about the experiences you have done that relatively apply to the duty. Research possible questions and come up with ways you can answer them. Remember, they are only requesting an interview with you to see your personality and to see if you are prepared to take on the position.

paralegal interview tips

2. Prepare Your Resume

Interviews can either be done virtually or in person. If the interview is in person, ensure you have at least three paper copies of your resume to provide to your interviewer(s). They will be pleased to see that you have put in some effort, and it will start the interview on a good note.

If it is a remote interview, you do not need to send your resume as they should have it, but you should have a tab open on the side with your resume and LinkedIn page, if available. That way, you can guide them through your experiences in chronological order in relevance to the experience when asked.

Here are some Paralegal Resume Drafting Tips.

3. Maintain a positive and energetic attitude

In general, having a positive attitude will take you far. You are being interviewed for your attitude and personality. You need to be excited and energetic on your paralegal interview day. You can do so by uplifting your confidence and being optimistic through each answer you provide. Nod your head occasionally during the questions, and start your answer with a slight smile. Smiles are very contagious and will leave a positive impression. Don’t overdo it, though.

4. Make eye contact at all times

Maintaining eye contact will show that you are a very attentive and confident person. I always looked at my interviewers when I was asked a question and kept looking at them when answering, as well. If you look down or away at all times, it will show that you are shy or not uncomfortable, and that is usually more of a negative trait than a positive (at least in this field).

5. Be detailed in your answers

Try to be very detailed when answering a question. For instance, they may ask you to tell them about a time when you encountered an angry client and the situation’s outcome. Your answer should not just be a story of when you had an angry client. You should start by stating the job you were in, what happened, why the client was angry, and HOW you approached the situation to resolve the issue. Tell them how you resolved the issue on your own before escalating it to a supervisor (if needed).

Do not speak negatively of the client, and try to show how you understood where they were coming from and how satisfied they were after your service. Always make sure to end it on a good note. Remember, the interviewers want you to help them, not add to their stress. Your answers should reflect how proactive you are and how your skills will alleviate their stress and create a healthy work environment.

paralegal interview tips

6. Do not complain

Complaining will bring negative attention to you. With that being said, you may be asked about added responsibilities that may be potentially added to you if a team member is absent and your plan on handling them. Questions like these may be tricky if you have had a job before where you were extremely stressed and had a lot of responsibilities and how daunting that was to you.

Try to be positive and explain your time management skills, and never complain about how taxing this is to you. Approach questions like these in an organized manner. For instance, you can speak about how you will have spreadsheets with due dates to keep your assignments organized and due dates to be met. You are part of the support staff, and your answers should discuss how you supported your staff in stressful times.

Here are some additional paralegal interview tips on what not to say in a paralegal interview.

7. Include job description keywords in your answers

Now that you are very familiar with the job description make sure you include keywords that they have listed in the duties section with each one of your answers. This will help them see that you are familiar with the scope of work and will continue to check the boxes next to your name.

8. Have fun with the conversation

Don’t treat your interview as an interview. This will show some stiffness and awkwardness. Sometimes, being nervous will place some restraints on the conversation. The solution to eliminating this nervousness is to have full confidence in yourself. You got the interview for a reason. They like you!

Now impress them with your personality. If they make a joke, laugh with them, and don’t be afraid to add some humor to the conversation. They want to see if they can get along with you, so have fun with the conversation and be yourself (to a certain extent). Make sure to still maintain your professionalism but treat it like a company date.

personal injury training for paralegals

Personal Injury Paralegal

Are you a personal injury paralegal struggling to keep up with all of those active case files? Our Personal Injury Paralegal Boot Camp gives you all of the tools to manage your personal injury cases from case intake through the demand letter and everything in between.

9. Fix your posture

This may sound silly but being confident is very attractive. They want to be at peace, knowing that you can handle everything confidently once you are left alone at work. Their attention will be on you, your body language, and how you present yourself. Sit up straight and confidently throughout the entire interview.

10. Let them talk

My final paralegal interview tip: Let them talk! In all honesty, lawyers LOVE talking about themselves. Use this as an opportunity to learn more about the company and to let them express themselves and be comfortable with you. Ask them: “Do you love being a lawyer?”. Usually, if they are happy with their occupation, they will spend a good amount of time answering this question. This is usually a green flag. If you notice they are complaining and are pessimistic about this field, then you will be able to tell that you most likely won’t be happy working there.

Another good question is: “I am impressed with your website, and I have heard great things about your company. How would you describe your company culture?” They would really like this question as it will show that you have taken some time researching them and reviewing their website. It is a really good question for you to see if this is a perfect work environment for you.

Be you and ask questions that will get them excited. If they have a good vibe with you, they will remember you, and you will be at the top of their selection list. I once applied for a position where I had zero experience in that position. They liked me enough to open up another position relevant to my skills because they left the interview feeling very happy. Make sure you ask questions at the very end and not while they are interviewing you. Here are more Questions to Ask During a Paralegal Interview.

Remember to enjoy the process, and don’t let rejections define you. Rejections are a re-direction and a step closer to getting an acceptance. Be confident and do your best. You got the interview request for a reason. You can do it regardless of the years of experience you have or lack.

Meet the Author

Noor Haleem is a litigation paralegal at a real estate, bankruptcy, family, and business litigation firm. She started her legal career at Cuyamaca College where she majored in Paralegal Studies and studied business and psychology at San Diego State University. Noor worked as a marketing assistant and funding coordinator for several different law firms.

She loves being a paralegal and has hopes to attend law school in the near future. When she is not working, she likes to listen to music, cooks delicious meals, and spend quality time with loved ones.

No comments yet! You be the first to comment.

Add Comment:

Your email address will not be published.