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5 Questions Hiring Managers Need To Ask When Interviewing Candidates for Paralegal Jobs

And more importantly, what you should look for in the answers. Sound obvious? Not so fast…

We’ve all been in an interview, feeling good about the chemistry, confident with our responses, and…  

A question comes up that we weren’t expecting. It’s often a behavioral type of question. We have no idea how to answer it. Awkward silence ensues.

Take heart if this happens to you. The interviewer may have asked you a “zinger” to see how you would respond. Or they may have asked you a question that you don’t know the answer to. 

As an interviewee, never be afraid to admit that you don’t know everything. Job seekers can even turn situations like this to their advantage.

As an interviewer, you need to be a bit more strategic. Hiring managers need to ask the tough questions that will enable them to shortlist and ultimately select the right candidates.

According to, paralegal salaries average between $51,790 and $102,010 in the United States. They’re a highly skilled and highly compensated group of professionals. So how do you make sure you hire the right one?

In this post, you will learn five critical questions to ask paralegal job candidates in the interview. 

Consider these your go-to questions for every paralegal interview:

  • Tell Me What Attracted You to Our Firm
  • Tell Me About Your Skills as a Paralegal 
  • Tell Me About a Challenging Technical Situation 
  • Tell Me About a Challenging Client Situation    
  • Walk Me Through Your Typical Workflow Process  

You’ve probably noticed that these are essentially open-ended questions. These questions are intended to start a dialogue and to let the interviewee open up and tell you about themselves. This should give you a good baseline to compare and contrast each candidate against the same core subject matter.

You want to know specifically why the candidate wants to work at your firm. 

According to Herzing University, you want to see how granular they get with their answer. 

Did they do any research on your firm? If so, it will be reflected in their answer. As a hiring manager, you want to know what they might bring to the table in the form of specialized skills, relevant research experience, etc.

You will gain valuable insight into the candidate’s personality type and motivation for applying for a job at your firm.

Also, be ready to prompt them for specific information that you want to learn. You might ask something like, “Are you interested in our continuing education benefits?” Remember, you want to have a consistent baseline to shortlist candidates. So be consistent with your questions and “subquestions” with all applicants.

Ask the candidate to tell you about their skills 

Keep this one very open-ended at first blush. See if the applicant focuses on their hard or soft skills in their response. Only you know that special personal and professional fit that you’re looking for. Tailor your questions around that model. 

The answer to this question will go a long way toward helping you to understand the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses in their own words. 

Your employment agency partner can offer some significant guidance here as well. 

As recruiters, we understand that there can be a very important soft skill or personality type that you’re looking for. We can screen this into your list of candidates on the front end. Get in touch with one of our experts to find out more.  

These next two questions could be asked together as something like, “Tell me about a challenging work situation.” You might then branch out into the more granular technical and client-specific breakdowns as separate questions.

Either way, you want to see how the applicant views clients and technology tools. 

Which would they rather interact with? Do they prefer not to work with clients directly? Does the candidate have advanced skills with legal tools like Lexis/Nexis, Concordance, CaseMap, etc.?

Given the chance, most people like to talk about themselves. The more the candidate talks, the more successful your interview will be.

Ask the candidate how they approach a new work assignment, starting on day one. 

The applicant’s response should tell you everything you need to know about their skills and work persona in their own words.

You may have to probe a bit for some of the specific answers you’re looking for, so be prepared with subquestions if necessary. This single question should give you valuable insight into the candidate’s organizational, communication, research, and critical thinking capabilities.     

You can never ask all of the right questions in every interview with every job candidate. If you stick to the basics, you can come out of every interview with a good sense of whether or not an applicant should move to the next step hiring process.    

A major part of any productive interview process is making sure that you start with the right group of candidates. 

Consider engaging with an established recruiting and staffing agency to help you with this initial aspect of your search. A good recruiting firm can streamline the hiring process by helping you find that critical group of candidates to interview.  

Are you a hiring manager or human resources professional with a paralegal job search, or searches, underway? 

Contact Patel Consultants Corporation Today

At Patel Consultants Corporation, we help clients just like you find that perfect candidate every day!

Call us today at 908-964-7575, or get in touch online. Our expert recruiters are waiting for your call.