Interviewing is always difficult, regardless of the role, but for a paralegal job, things can be complex and confusing. This week Simply Law Jobs, alongside its partner Lawyer Monthly, hears from Rhiannon Cambrook-Woods, the Founder of Zest Recruitment, who walks us through everything you should expect in your paralegal job interview.
Once you’ve secured an interview, it’s time to start preparing. You’ve clearly impressed the employer with your initial application – and with some careful research and planning, you can walk into the room feeling confident and composed. There are several questions which tend to come up in most paralegal job interviews – and we’ve put together some tips to help you think about your answers in advance.
How do you keep up to date with the latest legal developments?
Here you’re being asked to talk about any conferences, webinars, events and magazines that you’re actively involved with. In other words, you need to demonstrate that you’re proactive when it comes to seeking out new stories and that you’re fully immersed in the sector.
What tools do you use to organise your day-to-day tasks and responsibilities?
As a paralegal, setting priorities and organising your schedule is essential. If you have experience of using any relevant software, now is the time to mention it – whether that’s CaseMap, Concordance or simply Microsoft Outlook.
Tell me about your experience with handling confidential and sensitive information.
In any paralegal role, you’ll come into contact with a large amount of confidential data. Recall a specific instance in which you showed tact when handling the data – without sharing too much about the client.
How comfortable are you working in defence of suspected criminals?
Often, you’ll be assigned to work on a case of a client whose values clash with your own personal views. You’ll need to assure your interviewer that you treat all clients fairly and equally, regardless of the crimes they may have committed or are accused of.
Other common questions include:
- Can you recall a time when you had to deal with a difficult client?
- How do you manage tight deadlines?
- What was the most stressful job you’ve ever had?
- Why do you want to become a paralegal?
Use every question as an opportunity to demonstrate your skills and experience – and try not to be phased if you’re asked about a situation you’ve never encountered before. Expect to be asked about how you would respond to a range of hypothetical situations – perhaps how you would deal with a particular case or difficult client.
Make sure you’re familiar with the job description and take some time to match up some of your past experiences with the skills listed. Remind yourself of the skills you listed on your CV and cover letter – and bring a few printed copies with you too. It’s likely you’ll also be asked some more generic interview questions about your background, education, employment history, career goals and salary expectations. Remember to ask plenty of your own questions too – an interview should be a two-way conversation.
According to Undercover Recruiter, 33% of potential employers decide whether they will hire someone in the first 90 seconds of an interview. Moreover, 55% of the opinion formed is based on your mannerisms and the way you’re dressed. So, it’s vital that you make a great first impression. Wear your smartest business attire and opt for neutral colours.
On the day of the interview, don’t forget the basics – a firm handshake, confident eye contact and a warm smile. If you’ve prepared as much as you can, have confidence in your own abilities and let your experience speak for itself. Ultimately, if you’re a perfect fit for the company, it’s likely you’ll secure the job.