Paralegal Career Tip: How to Ace a Performance Review Interview

For most paralegals, performance review interviews can be a time of stress and fear. Often the review is with the direct supervising attorney and with someone from human resources if the firm is large enough.  Some supervising lawyers only spend a few minutes on the interviews, providing reports with no specific feedback, basing their opinion on the most recent events, or they will forget to recognize their paralegals when they do a good job.
In this context, to make sure that your career progresses smoothly, we have listed some tips that will hopefully enhance your job security and boost your career.

Be prepared

Review the goals that were set for in your last performance evaluation or ask your boss for the measures he/she will be using to evaluate your job performance during the current year. Then, based on these criteria, document your performance, make lists of your achievements, and prepare answers to potentially tough questions. If you have had a particulary bumpy episode during the past year, have an honest discussion with the attorney about the incident and be sure to talk about the professional way you managed the issue. 

Ask questions

Ask your boss questions during the interview to learn how he thinks you could be of even greater value to your department. This is also the time to think of ways the rest of the team can be more effective in helping you fulfill your duties, whether it's through better communication or a reallocation of resources. Also, be specific in your questions. That way, you will show you are prepared and you will not open the door to criticism by asking open questions for which you do not know the answers in advance.

Be professional

Take notes during the interview for future references since it can be difficult to solely rely on your memory to keep a complete record of a stressful conversation. Also, make sure you have completed the self-appraisal form and turn in the form on time, so your boss will have it before writing your review. 

Understand that even the best paralegals have room to grow

Think about the position and responsibility area you would like to hold in two or five years. See your boss' perspective on your performance as a way to help you prepare for the next phase. Your supervising attorney knows you best and can point to the skills you need to develop to take on the next level of responsibility.

Leave with an action plan

You should also think about your broader career goals. What training or development opportunities would benefit you? Could your organization sponsor membership in professional organizations? Are there specific assignments that would help you prepare for the future? Additionally, this action plan should include goals and ways of determining if you have reached your goals next year.Leave the review with a few suggestions about how you will succeed in the coming year.  

If done right, a performance review is one of the best opportunities to boost your career and keep you motivated for the months ahead. 

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