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Paralegal interview questions and answers

This Paralegal interview profile brings together a snapshot of what to look for in candidates with a balanced sample of suitable interview questions.

Christine Del Castillo
Christine Del Castillo

Former Community Manager at Workable specialized in employee experience, talent brands and our event series, Workable Ideas.

litigation-paralegal

10 good paralegal interview questions

  1. What interests you about being a paralegal?
  2. Why did you choose to specialize in this area of law?
  3. What education and training has prepared you for this role?
  4. How have you kept up with your continuing education requirements?
  5. What’s your familiarity with paralegal software? Which ones have you used?
  6. What kinds of legal documents have you drafted?
  7. What problems or language would you look for in [standard legal document]?
  8. In as much detail as possible, describe a time you parsed large volumes of data to prepare a report in the face of tight deadlines.
  9. Recall a complex legal decision you had to make. Describe the process you used to make your decision.
  10. If you report to multiple attorneys, how do you decide which assignment to do first?

Here are 10 essential interview questions and sample answers to help identify the best candidates for this role.

1. What interests you about being a paralegal?

This question helps to understand the candidate’s motivation for choosing this career path.

Sample Answer:

“I’ve always been fascinated by the legal system and enjoy research and writing. Being a paralegal allows me to be involved in meaningful cases while utilizing my skills.”

2. Why did you choose to specialize in this area of law?

This question assesses the candidate’s expertise and interest in a specific legal field.

Sample Answer:

“I chose to specialize in family law because I believe in advocating for children’s rights and providing support during difficult times.”

3. What education and training has prepared you for this role?

This question evaluates the candidate’s educational background and training relevant to the role.

Sample Answer:

“I have a certificate in paralegal studies and have also taken courses in legal research and writing.”

4. How have you kept up with your continuing education requirements?

This question checks the candidate’s commitment to professional development.

Sample Answer:

“I regularly attend webinars and workshops to stay updated on legal trends and changes in law.”

5. What’s your familiarity with paralegal software? Which ones have you used?

This question gauges the candidate’s technical skills.

Sample Answer:

“I’m proficient in using CaseMap and LexisNexis for legal research and case management.”

6. What kinds of legal documents have you drafted?

This question assesses the candidate’s experience in drafting various legal documents.

Sample Answer:

“I’ve drafted pleadings, motions, and affidavits, among other legal documents.”

7. What problems or language would you look for in [standard legal document]?

This question tests the candidate’s attention to detail and understanding of legal language.

Sample Answer:

“I would look for ambiguous terms, inconsistencies, and any clauses that could be unfavorable to our client.”

8. In as much detail as possible, describe a time you parsed large volumes of data to prepare a report in the face of tight deadlines.

This question evaluates the candidate’s ability to manage time and handle stress.

Sample Answer:

“I once had to sift through hundreds of pages of discovery to prepare a report within a 48-hour deadline. I prioritized key issues and successfully completed the task.”

9. Recall a complex legal decision you had to make. Describe the process you used to make your decision.

This question assesses the candidate’s decision-making skills.

Sample Answer:

“I had to decide whether to file a motion to dismiss or answer a complaint. After researching case law and consulting with the attorney, I chose to file a motion.”

10. If you report to multiple attorneys, how do you decide which assignment to do first?

This question tests the candidate’s prioritization skills.

Sample Answer:

“I prioritize tasks based on deadlines and the complexity of the work involved.”

What does a good paralegal candidate look like?

A good paralegal candidate is highly organized, detail-oriented, and possesses strong research and writing skills. They should also be adaptable and able to handle confidential information responsibly.

Red flags

Be cautious of candidates who lack attention to detail, have poor communication skills, or show a lack of enthusiasm for the role.



Paralegal Interview Questions

Paralegals are found in a broad range of settings. They may be employed by solo practitioners and by large firms. They may work in law offices, or in in-house legal departments. Their law expertise also varies. They may specialize in corporate law, labor law, litigation, family law, etc.

Keep an eye out for candidates with a certificate of completion from a credible paralegal program. This is a good idea because some states in the US have strict requirements for hiring paralegals. It’s also a way to weed out candidates who have resorted to embellishing applications in a highly competitive job market.

Consider the following interview questions a starting point for hiring the right paralegal for your firm. These are open-ended and situational questions that will help you evaluate the extent of their paralegal experience. For best results, add your own questions based on your specific law specialty.

Let’s summarize some of the questions and add a few more divided into specific types.

Operational and Situational questions

  • What interests you about being a paralegal?
  • Why did you choose to specialize in this area of law?
  • What education and training has prepared you for this role?
  • How have you kept up with your continuing education requirements?
  • What’s your familiarity with paralegal software? Which ones have you used?
  • What kinds of legal documents have you drafted?
  • What problems or language would you look for in [standard legal document]?
  • In as much detail as possible, describe a time you parsed large volumes of data to prepare a report in the face of tight deadlines.
  • Recall a complex legal decision you had to make. Describe the process you used to make your decision.
  • If you report to multiple attorneys, how do you decide which assignment to do first?
  • How comfortable are you with handling confidential information?
  • Some paralegal tasks are repetitive. How do you stay focused?
  • Describe a time you worked with a difficult client. How did you handle it?
  • Describe a time you turned a negative situation with a client into a positive one.

 

Frequently asked questions

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