Interview as a paralegal – how to prepare

There are often many reasons for changing employers. Either there is no takeover after the training or a change in career is to be sought. Differences from the previous employer can also lead to the search for a new job.

After the first applications have been sent out, the interview for the position of legal assistant is often quickly due. We would like to explain in the following what is taken into account during the interview and how this is done on a regular basis.

How job interviews in law firms work

Job interviews in law firms generally follow the same rules as other interviews. At the beginning, we usually get to know each other and often have a short chat with the head of personnel or owner of the firm. The question is asked whether the way to the law firm was found well or whether the journey has worked out if the applicant comes from further away. As a rule, there is also something to drink or a short talk about the weather.

After the small talk phase, you are often asked by your future employer to introduce yourself briefly. In the following conversation you will often be given the opportunity to tell something about yourself. You should then already be convincing. Tell us why you have just applied for the advertised position, what motivates you most and why you should be hired. As a rule, you should start chronologically. Tell us about your school leaving certificate, your education and any further professional experience you may have gained afterwards.

The future employer will then ask you about this during the interview. For example, if you have gaps in your resume as a legal assistant, you should be prepared to clarify them. As a rule, it is not bad at all if your CV shows appropriate time off – as always, you have to explain the times plausibly.

Even if you have changed employers in the past, this is a frequent topic for future bosses.

As a ReFa applicant, be sure to ask questions

Often the following phase of the interview is the most important: You have the opportunity to ask questions about the company. Many talks that had gone well up to that point failed because of this very point. Well-prepared applicants have prepared themselves and can ask questions about the company. It usually makes a good impression if, for example, you have dealt with the company’s website and can link to aspects that have been dealt with on the website – possibly not fully exploited.

You should avoid talking first about topics such as holidays, overtime or salary. Rather, you should ask organizational or content-related questions.

For example, you could ask in the interview:

  • How does the induction in your company take place?
  • Who will be my direct superior?
  • Are there any additional requirements that are not mentioned in the job advertisement that are still important to you?
  • Can you tell me what to do after the interview?
  • How many paralegals are you in your office? What is the division of tasks?
  • Is there a rough schedule when a hiring decision will be made?

Of course you can also ask whether you are allowed to look at the company or your possible workplace or why the position is vacant. It also does no harm if you ask your employer what a normal working day in the company looks like.

Please do not ask these questions to the future boss

However, there are also questions that should not be asked in any job interview. This includes, for example, the question of what exactly the law firm does and what its focus is. If you have not read the website of the law firm as a legal assistant, although you applied there, you will be sorted out very quickly.

The same applies to questions about the size of the company, how long it has existed and how quickly you can be promoted, and questions about whether the Internet can be used privately as a legal assistant or whether you can leave earlier should not be discussed in the job interview.

It is often a good idea to discuss with your future employer whether you can come for a day’s trial work. This should be in the interests of both sides. An interview can only give a limited impression of how well a legal assistant integrates into the firm and, conversely, how well the clerk likes the way the firm works.

For safety’s sake – prepare for technical questions

And then there are also these job interviews – the legal assistants are interviewed professionally. There are law firms that often test the specialist employee in order to check whether cost accounting is mastered, how enforcement is to be carried out or what deadlines there are. In this respect, it may always be advisable to prepare oneself for such technical questions. Especially if special knowledge is required in the job advertisement, with which a legal assistant was sought, one should be prepared for the fact that corresponding technical questions may also arise.

Again, if you can’t answer a question, keep your nerve and admit that you can’t answer that question right now. Instead, describe how you could find a solution in practice. Lawyers know that you can’t have all the rules in mind, so a reference to which law you would look up in case of doubt can save you from the outcome of the interview.

If you have mastered the above points, then the interview for the position of a paralegal should also be feasible. In addition, most law firms are desperately looking for specialist personnel. So anyone who makes a reasonable impression should have no difficulty in getting the job he wants.

Lawyer Dr. Tristan Wegner

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