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Obtaining an interview is a giant step towards landing a job. Management or human resources may have selected you from a host of resumes and job applications. Up until this point, your accomplishments are strictly a hard copy on a piece of paper or computer. The interview is the chance to project your personality by expressing why the company or law firm should hire you. Jobs typically have several candidates worthy of consideration. You must outshine the competition to secure the position you crave.

Preparation is paramount. Regardless of the position, you should practice interview questions and scenarios with a friend or a family member. Through practice, you will become more comfortable as the appointment approaches. Some websites list numerous items you may encounter as a paralegal interviewee. Two examples are Law Crossing and Legal Match.  The latter has a law library to peruse and find information on different specialties of law. If your interview involves a firm that handles intellectual law, there is a report on the topic at Legal Match.

Before your meeting, conduct research on the company or law firm. The interviewer may ask what you know about our company or firm. Showing that you know about recent cases, or a history of the company can impress. You want to give the impression that working for this company is at the top of your list.

Learn all you can about the company. Read online financial reports and free online law journals. If the law is to be your vocation, then continuously absorb information. A journal called Law Technology Today has free articles online.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 73% of paralegals and legal assistants work in Legal Services. This broad category excludes federal and state government work and management of companies. The group employs 238,040 paralegals of a total of 285,600 (2016) — almost half are in four states: California, Florida, New York, and Texas.

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Individuals who are interviewing for their first job face a more challenging role. You do not have employment experience to talk about; you may have limited exposure to interviews, as well. For new hires, you need to highlight your education. In particular, specific courses you excelled in and how they will make you a promising paralegal. If you participated in law studies outside your curriculum, then you should emphasize this aspect.

If you participated in an internship program, be sure and mention how this has benefited your understanding of the legal profession. The experience of a paralegal internship is a valuable experience, in addition to the opportunity to network. You may also be fortunate to receive a job offer by the company or firm at which you interned.

interview essentials word textAs a novice to the interview process, human resources professionals advise that you should attend as many interviews as granted. Do not be too selective. Even if the job doesn’t sound appealing, the practice interviewing will bode well for future meetings. You learn from each one. You develop a sense of how to handle your nerves, what are the common questions, how should you have answered a specific query better.

 

Associations

One way to show your commitment to the paralegal profession is to join organizations. The Paralegal Association takes applicants from Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree graduates to become a Certified Paralegal. They also have a student membership that provides educational articles published in their journals.

The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) has student memberships. Students currently enrolled in paralegal studies or a graduate within the past six months are eligible. The NFPA offers student members a free subscription to the National Paralegal Reporter, access to the career center, and  Student Support & Resource Platform. The latter program has career counseling, academic support, and access to additional classes. These supplemental lectures pertain to a variety of legal subjects, for example, legal research, citations, torts, criminal law, and more.

States also have paralegal associations to check eligibility requirements. An example is the California Alliance of Paralegal Associations (CAPA). The organization consists of twelve CAPA associations. You must be a member of one before you can join CAPA. This site has articles about paralegal practice, certifications, and ethics. There are also cities with a paralegal association, such as Los Angeles, New York City,  and Tampa Bay.

Conclusion

Consider your paralegal interview as an assemblage of several components. The components are your education, internship, part-time work experience, self-study, memberships, and networking. And do not underestimate the importance of soft skills. How you communicate can have a direct effect on the interviewer. If you seek employment in a large law firm, your interview may involve one or more lawyers. Your professional demeanor, dress, and etiquette could be the critical ingredients for landing a job offer.

Additional Resources

What degree do I need to be a Paralegal?

Why should I consider a degree in Law?

20 Non-Law Firm Jobs with a Law Degree

What is a Master’s Degree in Legal Studies?

What is the Difference in Legal Studies and a Law Degree?

How fast can I become a Paralegal?