Interview Preparation

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Host

Do you have any tips to help prepare for an upcoming paralegal interview?

Are there common interview questions that come up again and again?

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Kim

80 months ago

You should check out Career Corner, answers to interview questions on the www.paralegalpipeline.com website.

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dh in Northern CA, California

79 months ago

Host said: Do you have any tips to help prepare for an upcoming paralegal interview?

Are there common interview questions that come up again and again?

My first question was always, "Is overtime required?" For me, that was always the single most important factor as to whether I was intersted. If it was required, forget it. Ask about the culture of the law firm and most especially the termperament of the atty for whom you will be working. It is as important for you to interview them as it is for them to interview you. In this industry, it's too easy to fall into a job working for an awful atty. I also ask why the previous secretary left and how long she worked in the position. Of course, you can only hope people are honest. It's also nice if you can meet the atty. With the exception of 1 interview, I interviewed for word processor positions only; so I never asked about the atty. I did often get a tour of the office at the interview but without having been offered the job. I seized the opportunity to get a feel for the office and watch the secretaries' interaction with others. Try to get a feel for whether it's a good place - kinda hard when you're walking around out there just 10 minutes, and of course everyone will be on their best behavior because their jobs are at stake otherwise. My friend actually called the reception of a firm where she interviewed to ask her more about the job. Surprisingly, the receptionist told her, "You don't want this job; they're a-holes here." You can also find out about the firm by asking around thru the network.

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Aaron Gershfield in Sacramento, California

79 months ago

When I was recently looking for a new legal assisting position, the interviewers all asked me about my career goals. Most lawyers think that Paralegals will eventually go back to school to get their law degrees, and they will want to know how long they can count on you. If your goal is to remain a Paralegal, I would emphasize why that is and the possible benefits to the firm. It's also a good time to bring up your specific skill set. So, before you go on the interview, I strongly suggest you prepare a few concise sentences about your future career goals. You can read more about my job-seeking process on my blog (theaarongershfield.wordpress.com).

-Aaron Gershfield

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dh in Northern CA, California

79 months ago

Hi DLP - Great advice above. I have had to wait several times in the past for an interviewer way past the time the appointment was set. I always showed up 15 minutes early - they always wanted me to fill out a job app; so I'd do that while waiting. There were other times when I was seen right away, even when walking in early.

Tell me, if you had an interview scheduled for 9am, arrived at 8:45, and they didn't see you until 9:30 (no update on status), how would you handle that? Would you see them as unreliable and decide they may not be a good company for whom to work? I never thought about that. In the past, that factor didn't affect my decision as to whether I would accept or decline.

Once after accepting a WP job in Orange County, I was asked to bring my two forms of ID and other paperwork to the office a few days after my interview - roughly a week and a half before starting. No prob. The building was across the street from the job I was leaving; so I took it over there on my lunch break, fully expecting to be back within the hour. I waited in the lobby for so long just to drop that stuff off that I was late returning from lunch.

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dh in Northern CA, California

79 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said: Continued from above....

I guess it depends on the standards to which one holds others on whether such indiscretions should be ignored... the interviewer is expecting me at a particular time so why shouldn't he/she also be on time?

Nice to hear from you, dh. I hope school is going well.

HI DLP - School is going well, thank you. It's 4am, and I'm taking a break from studying for my 2 midterms tomorrow - Public Finance and Data Analysis!! oh boy. I napped from 9pm - 1am so not totally without sleep.

We really should hold them to the same standard as they do us but, unfortunately, it's an employers' world out there. If they're late getting to us maybe we should go to the receptionist and tell her, "I'm sorry, but my appointment was at 9:00 (it's 9:15), and I have another appt at such-and-such time so I need to leave. If she's still interested in interviewing me, have her call me to reschedule." I think employers think would-be employees are desperate (some are) and don't need to show them the same courtesy. Also, when we quit, we're "required" to give two-week notice; they won't provide a reference for you in the future otherwise. But what kind of notice do they give the employee when firing him?

I had a friend who always worked in mid-level management (not legal industry), and he quit every job without ever giving notice. I asked him why he did that, and he told me, "If they were to fire me, what notice would they give me?" I should've asked him what he does for references. It's easy to get a list of people who'll vouch for you, but you can't control what a previous employer would say.

Oh - and I only send a thank you card if I'm interested in the position regardless of how the interview went. I've had a few interviews go well but still wasn't interested because of the vibe I got or - my pet peeve - overtime "may be required."

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dh in Northern CA, California

79 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said:
I really don't disagree. In his book, "Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Being Interviewed," H. Anthony Medley (who is a lawyer) recommends against sending thank-you notes, but for different reasons. Among other things, Medley says he feels sorry for candidates who send thank-you notes. In a way, he has a point; nonetheless, I think it should be done ninety-eight percent of the time.

That's probably a great book. I've never heard of it. "What Color is Your Parachute" is a book which which I'm a little familiar. I think it's pretty good, too.

At my interview at my first ever legal job, they lady called and just said, "Come in, and we'll work out a salary for you." When I walked in her office, the Thank-You card I'd sent was sitting there on top of everything else on her desk; so I was glad i'd sent it.

In a "Careers in Accounting" class that I took last year (I considered that), they told us always to follow up that way. Everyone has different advice, and I get confused as to who knows best!!!!

Regarding references, my most recent job was very angry about my decision to return to school. I'm not sure the administrator would provide me a good reference if someone called despite the fact that I stayed until the day before my replacement started. There is, however, a partner there, and a former atty from that firm who would write me an LOR in a heartbeat if I asked.

I'm not familiar with how employers handle references. If you provide a LOR, are they unlikely to call the reference to check it? I know I've had my personal references called because the people I use call me and tell me. I don't keep track of that with previous employers; so I have no idea.

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RYAN in Hanover Park, Illinois

79 months ago

How much can I expect to make as a first year paralegal? i currently have a 3.8 gpa @ an a.b.a certified institution?

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dh in Northern CA, California

79 months ago

Displaced Legal Professional in Denver, Colorado said:

One would think LORs should be enough for employers, but some may still call your ex-employers. One would think an ex-employer who contradicts his/her positive LOR would come off as foolish or unprofessional, but who knows how people think anymore.

Yeah, that would make sense. I'm sure that the partner for whom I was working would NOT provide a LOR; so I wouldn't even ask, and it wouldn't surprise me if the ofc adminstr didn't provide a good reference either. However, I there's a partner and another former atty from that firm whom I could contact directly, and they'd provide an LOR, unbeknownst to the partner for whom I worked, without a prob. I guess it would look pretty dumb if a potential employer got a poor reference from an administrator of the same firm where a partner provided an LOR.

I'll be back on the job market in a totally different industry in a year... very scary. Unfortunately for me, when it comes to professional jobs that pay somewhat decently, law is the only experience I have.

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cg in Melbourne Beach, Florida

70 months ago

Host said: Do you have any tips to help prepare for an upcoming paralegal interview?

Are there common interview questions that come up again and again?

With this economy many have been downsized out of a prior position. I have been and answered "why did you leave your last position?" honestly with "I have survived down sizings before. Unfortunately, I did not survive this one." Better to be honest if that is the case.

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