Job Interview Tips for New Paralegals

Paralegal Strengths and Weaknesses & Other Interview Questions Answered

A  few years ago, a short-lived reality show emerged, and it centers around one of the world’s scariest occurrences: being interviewed for a job. The Job Interview brings the interview process live to your television. It involved real employers interviewing real people for real jobs. And job interviews? They are nerve-wracking. You’re being judged for your merits, your education, and your experience in a very short amount of time. In honor of The Job Interview, here are tips new paralegals can use for their interviews.

Possible Interview Questions for Paralegals

Be prepared to answer various questions.

Of course, there are standard interview questions such as:

  • Tell me about a time that you worked with someone that you didn’t necessarily get along with.
  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?

There are also questions related directly to paralegal interviews. If you don’t have paralegal experience, you must be ready to transfer over your previous experience into your answer to show how you’re still prepared for the job. Here are the interview questions listed out with context on why they may be asked and optimal responses:

What experience do you have that is directly related to this position?

Why they ask: To determine if you have the practical background and skills needed for the paralegal role based on your past positions.

Optimal response: Highlight specific, relevant job experience as a paralegal and your applicable skills.

Example Response:

I have over 5 years of experience working directly as a paralegal in personal injury law firms. In that role, I interviewed clients, prepared legal documents, conducted research, and assisted the attorneys with all aspects of the casework. This aligns perfectly with the responsibilities required for this paralegal position.

How do you keep organized when you have multiple clients/cases?

Why they ask: To assess your time management and organizational abilities when handling high workloads.

Optimal response: Demonstrate your proven systems for staying organized and tools you use.

Example Response:

I stay highly organized when juggling multiple cases by using case management software, detailed task lists, and organized digital case files. Communication and collaboration tools also help me coordinate seamlessly with attorneys on priorities and deadlines. Time management is critical in this work.

How do you think your previous experience in a law office will help you in this job?

Why they ask: To gauge what transferable knowledge and capabilities you can apply from prior legal work settings.

Optimal response: Explain useful skills gained and how they translate to excelling in this role.

Example Response:

My previous paralegal experience taught me how law firms function and gave me practical knowledge of the litigation process. I also gained experience with legal research, document preparation, client relations, and court filings that I can apply directly in this role.

How do you deal with difficult people?

Why they ask: To evaluate your interpersonal skills and ability to manage challenging interactions professionally.

Optimal response: Share strategies for remaining calm and diplomatic with complicated personalities.

Example Response:

When dealing with difficult clients or attorneys, I remain professional, listen carefully, and focus on finding solutions. I understand the stresses involved and do not take difficult interactions personally. My goal is de-escalating conflicts.

How do you cope in a fast-paced/stressful environment?

Why they ask: To determine if you thrive under pressure or burn out easily when the workplace increases.

Optimal response: Convey your efficacy and focus when facing dynamic, high-pressure situations.

Example Response:

I thrive in fast-paced environments by staying focused,  calm, and relying on my support network. Strong collaboration, communication, and time management skills also help me excel under pressure. I am energized, not stressed, by dynamic workplaces.

Why did you become a paralegal?

Why they ask: To understand your motivations and fit for the profession.

Optimal response: Share your passion for the law and helping people navigate the legal system.

Example Response:

I became a paralegal because I am detail-oriented, love research and analysis, and want to help people through the legal system. This role allows me to use my skills in meaningful ways.

Do you plan to go to law school?

Why they ask: To discern your career ambitions and potential tenure as a paralegal.

Optimal response: Be honest while emphasizing your commitment to excelling as a paralegal if hired.

Example Response:

I do hope to attend law school eventually. For now, I am gaining invaluable experience as a paralegal that will benefit me as a future lawyer.

Name three subjects you took in school that you believe can help you in this position.

Why they ask: To learn if you have the academic background and knowledge to thrive in the role.

Optimal response: Share relevant courses that provided a strong educational foundation.

Example Response:

Relevant college courses were Contract Law, Legal Research and Writing, Civil Procedure, and Business Law. These provided foundational knowledge I apply daily as a paralegal.

What motivates you?

Why they ask: To get insight into what drives your ambition and work ethic.

Optimal response: Explain what inspires you in legal work and helps you succeed.

Example Response:

Helping clients and making a real difference in people’s lives motivates me. I am inspired to work alongside attorneys to ensure fair outcomes.


Do a little research on the law firm, law office, attorney, or business.

A few days before you go to your interview, get online and do some research. Look for news articles related to cases the firm or attorney recently handled. If you’re interviewing for a position with a corporation, look for recent mentions in the news about a project or other goodwill piece. Law firm and company blogs (or news pages) are great for finding this sort of information. Make sure that you look on LinkedIn, too.

There are several websites that can give you great insight into the potential questions that you may be asked during your interview. Keep in mind that a job interview is also your opportunity to interview the law office to see if you’d be a good fit. You can ask questions, too.

Things to Bring With You

Take a copy of your resume, cover letter, references, and a writing sample with you.

While most job openings require that you submit your resume, cover letter, and references in advance, you should take a copy of these items (and a writing sample) with you. Even if they don’t need it, taking extras with you shows the potential employer that you’re prepared.

First Impressions

Dress to impress.

Keep in mind that the legal field is highly conservative. Make sure that your wardrobe matches that environment. If you’re offered the job, you may find that the dress code is more relaxed. However, for your interview, you should dress to impress. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need designer clothing. Simple black slacks or a black skirt that goes to your knees are classic wardrobe pieces that are extremely versatile. Button-down long-sleeve shirts are also inexpensive and great additions to any wardrobe.


Send a thank you note on the same day as your interview.

Don’t wait until the day after or a week later. Send a thank you note to your interviewers on the same day as your interview. You can send one by mail or you can send it via email if you previously corresponded via email with the interviewer. This is a great way to make yourself stand out.

Remember, take the time to prepare for your paralegal interview. Practice your interview skills. Learn about the company. Then, go out and get the job of your dreams!

FAQs from Paralegals

What are the best strengths of a paralegal?

A paralegal’s best strengths include their attention to detail, organizational skills, and ability to work independently. Paralegals must be able to stay organized while managing and compiling a variety of legal documents. As such, having strong organizational and critical thinking skills is vital. Additionally, paralegals should have excellent communication and interpersonal skills in order to effectively collaborate with lawyers and clients.

What strengths do you have that will help you as a paralegal and why?

I have an aptitude for research which would be beneficial in my role as a paralegal. I am also highly organized and have a methodical approach when tackling complex matters. This allows me to work efficiently and competently, no matter how large or small the task at hand may be. My strong communication skills aid me in communicating effectively with colleagues as well as clients.

What are the pros and cons of being a paralegal?

The pros of being a paralegal include learning about various aspects of the law, developing technical skills related to legal research, working closely with experienced attorneys, and gaining exposure to various areas of practice. On the downside, the workload can be quite heavy and the job itself can be highly stressful. In addition, paralegals are not able to provide legal advice or represent clients in court.

What is your biggest weakness?

My biggest weakness is my lack of experience in some specialized areas of legal practice. Although I am proficient in general legal research, I need to develop skills in specific areas such as corporate law, criminal law, or employment law. I would also benefit from taking a course on sufficient writing techniques for legal documents.

What are the three most important qualities of a paralegal?

The three most essential qualities for a successful paralegal are attention to detail, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and the ability to work independently. Attention to detail is key because it ensures accuracy in all aspects of document management for any given case. The ability to communicate both orally and in written form is paramount when working collaboratively with attorneys and clients alike. Finally, paralegals must possess the confidence to work independently and manage their own caseloads.

What are the three qualities a paralegal should have?

In addition to the previously mentioned qualities, flexibility is vital for success as a paralegal. As laws and regulations change, becoming familiar with any new developments quickly is essential. Additionally, analytical thinking is paramount for understanding complicated facts and relevant cases when performing research and preparing legal documents accordingly. Finally, good judgment is required in order to make sound decisions when time constraints become tight.

What is the hardest part of being a paralegal?

One of the most difficult parts of being a paralegal is keeping up with constantly changing laws and regulations. As laws evolve on both a federal and state level, staying abreast of those changes can prove difficult, especially with heavy caseload demands. Additionally, paralegals must often work under strict deadlines which can cause considerable stress when calls or emails come in needing immediate responses.

What are three things a paralegal Cannot do?

Paralegals cannot provide legal advice or represent clients in court. Furthermore, they cannot set fees or accept payment for legal services they provide without a lawyer’s supervision. Lastly, they cannot sign pleadings or other legal documents on behalf of their supervising attorney.

What are the struggles of a paralegal?

Staying current on ever-changing laws and regulations can be challenging due to the high demands of caseloads. Additionally, ensuring that all materials are properly organized and documented is time consuming. An endemic problem amongst paralegals is needing to handle multiple assignments from different attorneys while working under time constraints. Ultimately, this can lead to burnout if stress isn’t managed effectively.

What are four things that a paralegal Cannot do?

As described above, paralegals cannot give legal advice or represent clients in court; set fees or accept payment for services without their supervisor’s approval; sign pleadings or documents on behalf of their supervisor; or practice law outside of the jurisdiction they are allowed to operate within.

Why do paralegals quit?

The most common reason for leave or turnover among paralegals is that they are unable to meet expectations due to overwhelming caseloads or other commitments. Other causes can include intangible factors such as a lack of recognition or professional development opportunities afforded by employers along with excessive hours and minimal pay raises. Finally, burnout caused by too much stress or insufficient reward for hard work can drive paralegals away from their positions.

Why is being a paralegal so stressful?

The demanding nature of the job combined with strict deadlines can often lead to considerable levels of stress for paralegals. Additionally, having many different assignments from various attorneys can prove difficult to manage due to conflicting demands and challenging requests resulting from expected perfectionism. Moreover, troubleshooting issues that arise in certain circumstances can add further tension when faced with seemingly impossible tasks that feel like dead ends.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.