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Best interview questions for your hiring process

Paralegal Interview questions

A Paralegal is a lawyer’s second hand. They help them prepare for their trials and court cases and support them throughout the process, doing a lot of the heavy lifting and legal research for them. Whether it’s preparing legal documents, meeting with witnesses, or writing opening statements, a great Paralegal is a valuable asset to any lawyer.

Given the importance of a good Paralegal, you have to ensure that you know how to find the right candidate for the job. Part of that process is asking potential candidates the right questions early on in the interview stage. That’s where this handy list of Paralegal interview questions comes in. By asking candidates these targeted questions you will quickly be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.

When hiring a Paralegal, these are some of the qualities you should be looking for:

  • Deep understanding of the law and legal terminology
  • Excellent research skills
  • High attention to detail
  • Great verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to work with sensitive and confidential information

Interviewing a Paralegal

Once you’ve invited a candidate for an interview it’s time to prepare your questions. Aside from general interview questions, you should also prepare questions that are specific to the role of a Paralegal. By asking the right questions you can quickly find out whether a candidate has what it takes or not.

Do bear in mind though that the questions mentioned below are best asked early on in the interview process. Later on, you should ask more specific Paralegal interview questions for experienced candidates to test their skills.

How to open the Paralegal job interview

First things first: starting the interview. Remember that the candidate is probably quite nervous, so instead of starting with a tough operational question, it’s better to ease into the conversation. Positive opening questions are great for this purpose. We recommend you start the interview with two or three of these questions to break the ice.

Best interview questions for your hiring process

See our Paralegal Job Description here

For the interview

A positive opener to start

What has your career path been like so far?

Why did you decide to become a Paralegal?

What do you like most about being a Paralegal?

Behavioral Questions

Give me an example of a time you were under a lot of pressure and explain how you managed to stay calm to get the work done.

Pressure and stress are common in the work of a Paralegal. Sometimes, all the pressure will be on them to prepare something in time for a trial. Testing how the candidate deals with pressure is a good indicator of how they will perform at this job.

Give me an example of a time you missed a deadline. What did you learn from it and how did you prevent it from happening in the future?

This question is similar to the previous one in that it tests how the candidate deals with the stress of tight deadlines. It also shows you their time management skills.

Consider a time you had to deal with criticism and tell me how you handled it.

No matter what job you do, there will always be a time you have to deal with (constructive) criticism. Especially for a fast-paced role like a Paralegal, it’s crucial that you can handle criticism and not let it throw you off.

Soft Skills

Sometimes a specific trial can trigger a particularly strong emotional response in us. How do you deal with a situation like this?

This is a great interview question to ask a Paralegal. They often deal with difficult situations and so they need to be able to cope with them.

What do you do to keep up to date with the latest developments in the field?

You want your new Paralegal to stay up to date with the latest in legislation. Asking this question will give you an idea of what steps they take to achieve this.

What skills do you think are most important to have as a Paralegal?

This interview question gives you an idea of what they see as important skills themselves. It shows you how they perceive their role, which gives you a better understanding of what they might be like as a colleague.

Can you give me an example that shows your attention to detail?

A large part of the Paralegal role consists of conducting factually accurate legal research. To do so, the candidate needs to demonstrate a high level of attention to detail.

Hard Skills

Give an example of a time when you were especially proud of the way you performed legal research for a case.

This question allows the candidate to showcase their best work, which gives you an idea of their level of experience.

Explain how you would go about summarising a deposition.

A classic Paralegal interview question. Summarising a deposition is a standard task for a Paralegal and this question helps you understand how they go about performing this task.

Give an example of a time when you had to prepare litigation documents for a trial.

Again, this question asks directly about a job-specific skill and how the candidate does this task.

Can you tell me what litigation support software you are familiar with and which you prefer using?

This question tells you a bit more about the specific software the candidate is familiar with.

Operational / Situational Questions

You notice the attorney is particularly stressed before a trial. How do you support him?

The Paralegal’s role is to assist the attorney with all sorts of pre-trial preparations, which can sometimes mean emotional/mental support as well.

Your boss gives you a task but you don’t agree with the task/their approach. What do you do?

This question gives you an idea of how the candidate deals with disagreements in the workplace, in particular when working with their direct boss.

You’ve written the closing statement for a trial but just before the lawyer gets up to present it you realise you’ve made a mistake somewhere. What do you do?

This situational question aims to test the candidate’s improvisation and problem-solving skills. There generally isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. It’s more about how the candidate answers it.

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