Like most professional fields, interviewing is a critical part of becoming a paralegal. As such, PIW invests significant class time in preparing students for success in professional interviews. Additionally, PIW students participate in practice interviews with attorneys to further hone their skills and become more comfortable in a formal interview setting. The following is a brief overview of some of the key points that PIW stresses to enhance interview skills and help graduates become paralegals in Washington DC.
Before the Interview
- Take the time to research the firm with which you are interviewing. You should understand its basic mission and what services it provides. Arrive with a list of questions that demonstrate your knowledge of the firm.
- Prepare extra copies of your resume and writing samples that you can give to the interviewer. Remember that you may be meeting with a number of interviewers, so prepare accordingly.
- Always dress professionally. It is appropriate to overdress, but it is never acceptable to under dress.
During the Interview
- Upon meeting the person who will be interviewing you, immediately offer a handshake and a smile.
- Read the mood of the interviewer. If the interviewer is very formal, you should also be formal. If the interviewer is more casual, it is acceptable to loosen up a bit.
- It is normal to be nervous – interviewers expect this, but try to avoid overt signs of discomfort like fidgeting or sweating.
- Maintain eye contact, but avoid staring.
- Never bring up salary or benefits, but always be prepared to discuss these issues if the interviewer mentions them.
After the Interview
- Be patient. It can take weeks for companies to make hiring decisions.
- Understand that employers may ask you back for a second, third or fourth interview before making an offer.
Always remember that you need to accomplish two goals in an interview. You must convince the employer that you can do a better job than your competitors, and you need to convince the employer that you will create profits, not problems. By using these and other interviewing tips in combination with their paralegal educations, PIW graduates can consistently find meaningful employment in the legal field.
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