Avoid Mistakes as You Prepare for Your Paralegal Job Interview

Are you ready for your first job interview? You need to look, sound and act like someone who will bring value to a law office, and being prepared is the biggest way to avoid making interview mistakes.  

Here are 10 things to do before you interview for any paralegal position that will keep you from making mistakes:

1. Research the organization. Where will you be interviewing? At a law firm? A legal aid office? A corporate legal department? A government agency? As soon as you learn the name of the employer, do an Internet search of the organization. Learn about its history, its current activities and the kind of law it practices most (criminal, civil, corporate, etc.).
2. Customize your resume. If you did not do this when applying for the job, do it now. Adjust your resume's content so it directly addresses all the skill and experience requirements in the job description. (Do this honestly.) Include any extra-curricular activities or volunteer work that may relate to the kind of work the firm/company/agency does.
3. Prepare a list of questions. At some point in the meeting, your interviewer will ask you, "Do you have any questions?" Make sure you do. Make these questions about the office itself, such as, "How do you get most of your clients," "What was your most challenging case this year," "Do you do any pro bono (free) work?" Put the focus on them, not you. The interviewer will appreciate this.
4. Rehearse. Rehearsal is a great way to come into an interview relaxed and confident. Stage a mock interview with a friend or a member of Everest's Career Services staff. Develop short, impressive answers for standard questions like, "Why do you want to work here," "What's your greatest strength,” “Your greatest weakness," and "What's the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?" The easier question to answer is the one you're prepared to be asked.
5. Choose an appropriate wardrobe. To interview at a law office -- any law office -- you need to look the part. This means a business suit, freshly polished shoes, trimmed nails and cut hair. If you're a woman, keep make-up to a minimum. If you're a guy, wear and tie and shave the stubble. For either/both: hide the tattoos.
6. Plan your arrival. At least 24 hours before your scheduled interview, figure out where you're going and how you're going to get there. Find the law office with an Internet search and map out your route. If you plan to drive, be sure to locate convenient parking. If you'll be using public transportation, where's the nearest commuter train station/bus stop? Estimate how long it will take you to get to the office and plan to leave 15 minutes early, just in case.
7. Bring the office's phone number. If you get stuck in traffic or otherwise fall behind schedule, you will want to call the office and let them know you're running late.
8. Get a good night's sleep. When you go to your interview, you want to be well-rested and alert. Plan to get seven to eight hours of sleep the night before. And no drinking. The last thing you need on your interview is a hangover.
9. Eat a good breakfast. What they say is true: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eat a well-balanced breakfast. Don't overdue the coffee. Too much caffeine can make you hyper and also create unwelcomed urges to go to the bathroom.
10. Keep everything in perspective. Going into your interview, remember that this is just one of many meetings you're likely to have before you land your first job. Never think this is your one and only chance for success. That kind of pressure just leads to panic, and panic leads to desperation. Even if you don't get the job, the interview will be a learning experience. Use its lessons to sharpen your game for the interviews to come both in the near future and throughout your paralegal career.

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