5 Interviewing Skills That Every Paralegal Needs
Conducting client interviews is a standard responsibility for most paralegals. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) suggests that “conducting client interviews,” “maintaining general contact with clients,” and “locating and interviewing witnesses” are a fundamental part of the paralegal’s duties. To excel as a paralegal, you’ll need to develop strong interviewing skills that will allow you to take charge of an interview and collect all the information required by the attorneys. To help you develop those skills, we’ve listed 5 of the most essential interviewing skills that every paralegal needs.
Taking Charge Of Your Interviews
1. Make your interviewee comfortable – Starting your interview on the wrong foot can be challenging to recover from, you don’t want to come across as unprepared, distracted or over aggressive. Your clients and witnesses may be discomforted by the idea of being interviewed, and it is your responsibility to put them at ease before the interview begins. Greet your interviewee in a warm and welcoming manner, offer them a beverage and explain the format of the discussion before you start. Putting your interviewee at ease will make them more likely to answer your questions and less likely to be distracted or combative.
2. Be prepared – Preparation is a vital part of conducting a good interview. You’ll need to do your research on both the law related to the case you are working on, and on the client you are interviewing, and use that research to produce a list of questions that cover all the required topics.
3. Be flexible – While it’s important to be prepared, and to have a list of proposed questions before the interview, you don’t have to stick rigidly to those questions. Build up a dialogue with your interviewee that keeps up the flow of conversation and increase the amount of information your client is disclosing.
4. Ask a range of questions – Most questions fall into two broad categories, open and closed. An open question cannot usually be answered with a yes or a no, while a closed question can. Use open questions to draw information from your interviewee and build up a dialogue. Closed questions can be used to verify facts, where it is essential that the issue has a solid yes or no answer.
5. Be an active listener – During an interview, particularly a long one, it can be easy to fall into the trap of just waiting for your turn to talk, rather than listening. An active listener participates in the conversation, summarizing and paraphrasing the interviewee’s responses and double checking any answers that are vague or were where there is a potential for miscommunication.
Training To Be A Paralegal In Las Vegas
Here at Northwest Career College, we run the top paralegal program in Nevada, offering our students the skills and experience they need to successfully enter the field of paralegal work and position themselves to maximize their earnings. Our Paralegal instructors are seasoned attorneys and highly trained professionals who are able not only to teach you the law but also to guide you through the many ways a paralegal integrates into a Las Vegas law practice.
We offer on-campus and online paralegal classes to accommodate your work and family schedule. Our Career Services team will work with you to help you find the best paralegal employment opportunity in Las Vegas, and their expertise in this area has given us a 100% success rate in job placement rate for paralegal graduates. Call us today at (702) 403-1592 to find out what our paralegal program can offer you.
Lisa Myers, J.D., L.L.M.
Legal Studies Department Director
J.D. L.L.M. Campbell University
B.A. Corllins University