5 Crucial Interview Questions in the Legal HR Space

Posted June 22nd, 2023 by Urban Legal recruitment

From uncovering their motivations and organizational skills to assessing their problem-solving abilities and alignment with your firm's values, these questions are designed to provide valuable insights into the character, experience, and aspirations of potential candidates. By asking the right questions, you can make informed decisions that lead to the selection of highly skilled professionals who will contribute to your firm's success.

Paralegals and legal assistants are integral to law firms’ success.

Working under the supervision of a lawyer, these professionals play a key role in preparing for hearings, trials, and meetings. They also assist with research, interviews, client communication, and data analysis. It’s complex, fulfilling work blending a full suite of skills. 

This makes hiring the right person essential—and Urban Legal Recruitment is here to simplify the process. Today we’re highlighting five crucial interview questions that firms should ask their legal assistant and paralegal applicants:

Why do you want to work as a paralegal or legal assistant?

The idea is to figure out what motivates the candidate—both personally and professionally—as they pursue their next role in the legal field. You want to make sure you hire a driven, detail-oriented, goal-focused person. This question is a great starting point.

The candidate’s response can shed light on their character, values, and interests. It can also serve as a nice segue to the applicant’s work history, relevant skills, and desire to progress in their career. 

What strategies do you rely on to stay organized? 

Employers in the legal field want to make sure their new hires can structure their time productively. This question will determine whether the applicant can meet expectations. A successful legal assistant or paralegal should have exemplary research, fact-checking, and organizational skills. 

That’s not all. The applicant’s response to this question will let you in on their understanding of the legal process, and on whether they’re a careful, precise worker who can thrive at your firm.

Can you describe a time you navigated a challenging work situation?

Everyone makes mistakes. In the legal HR field, recruiters want to make sure the people they hire have learned from their past mistakes (and held themselves accountable when needed). The candidate’s response to this question will reveal whether they are humble, easy to work with, and a team player.

The best applicants are those who showcase expert conflict resolution skills, and those who recognize how they might improve in the face of future setbacks—so listen carefully!

What are the most important skills you think a paralegal or legal assistant should have?

This question encourages the applicant to describe in their own words how they picture the position. Have the candidate get specific here, and pay close attention to the way they describe the hard and soft skills they consider most essential to the role you’re looking to fill.

From there, you can make sure their perspective aligns with what you value most. Both hard skills (like research and administration) and soft skills (like communication and ethics) are paramount.

Why does our firm appeal to you? What do you envision bringing to the table?  

Naturally, you want to understand what might make one applicant a better fit than another. Rather than asking the candidate outright why they’re the one for the job, consider asking them why your firm appeals to them. This is a subtle yet revealing way to gauge whether they’d fit into your organizational culture. 

Then, after they respond, ask them what they would bring to the table. Their answer could make or break your hiring decision.

Learn more about recruiting legal support staff

Is your law firm or legal department looking to hire legal assistants or paralegals? 

Directors and Hiring Managers should be mindful of the interview questions they ask candidates. Some of the best questions for legal assistants and paralegals touch on workers’ research skills, relevant experience, career aspirations, interest in the position, and ability to overcome challenges.

My name is Shona Tischner, and my human resources background at an international law firm has helped me finetune my recruitment skills over three decades. Today, in my role at Urban Legal Recruitment, I connect directors and HR managers with the legal talent they need to excel.

So, look no further for access to top-tier legal applicants. I can help hiring managers like you navigate a pool of candidates covering the full range of legal expertise. Please contact me for more, or complete our job order submission form with a description of the position you hope to fill. I look forward to hearing from you!