Finding good help is always difficult, and sometimes a few bad apples can ruin things for you. But you can't avoid the inevitable -- at some point you'll need to hire a paralegal. You just can't do everything yourself.
So here are some quick, easy tips on how to spot, and hire a great paralegal.
1. Can They Follow Directions?
You don't have to wait until the interview to start quizzing potential employees -- start with the application. You would think anyone who got through college could do this, but you might be surprised. In your job posting, set out specific instructions about whether you require a cover letter, resume, attachments or salary expectations. When you receive submissions, immediately set aside applications that did not comply with your instructions. If they can't follow instructions on a job application, forget it.
2. Can They Write?
Take a look at the cover letter and resume. Is it well written? Do they possess computer skills to format the documents properly? Are there any typos? Being a good paralegal requires good writing skills, computer literacy and attention to detail. Just taking a close look at their submission will let you know if your applicant possesses these traits.
3. Do They Have the Necessary Credentials?
Becoming a paralegal requires particular course work such as a certificate in paralegal studies, or an associate's or bachelor's degree. First, decide what you require, and then see if they have the degree you want them to have.
4. Do They Have Good Practical Experience?
Only you know how much time you have, and how much time you want to devote to training. Do you want a newbie that you can mold? Or, do you want someone who's been around the block? Look at their practical experience and choose someone who is compatible with your goals for the position.
5. Are They a Team Player?
Being a paralegal is a team sport and requires applicants to "play nice" with a wide range of people. Look for clues on the resume that show whether the applicant is a team player or engages in more solitary pursuits. Working on things alone is not necessarily a bad thing, but just something to look for if you really want someone to be a part of a team.
With these five tips, you should be able to narrow down the candidates to a great pool -- before the first interview. Look at each step in the process as just that -- a hurdle, and once you do the entire application period will go much more smoothly. Then, you'll have great help in no time.
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- 10 Things Every Attorney Must Do Before Hiring a Legal Secretary or Paralegal (FindLaw's Strategist Blog)