How to incorporate industry buzzwords at your next interview

Corporate buzzwords have taken a lot of ribbing over the years, from good-natured jokes about the overuse of “synergy,” “team-building exercises” and more. Despite their liberal proliferation and comedic reputation throughout most business sectors, knowing industry-specific buzzwords is a necessary step toward feeling as if you belong in a certain work environment. For example, you may feel better prepared if your interviewer refers to certain jargon throughout the hiring process and you are familiar with these uses.

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As a recent – or soon-to-be – graduate of the Master’s in Paralegal Studies program, you’ll always want to make a solid impression with the hiring manager when considering a new job, and speaking the language can help. If you want to stand out from your competitors, consider learning and integrating a few key industry-specific and overarching buzzwords into your application process.

This does not mean that you should overuse clichéd expressions that carry little weight in the eyes of your recruiter. It does mean that you should pay close attention to how you present yourself and convey a feeling of togetherness during your interview. Use buzzwords to open up new opportunities, not box yourself in. Here are a few tips and tricks about what buzzwords you should and should not use for your next paralegal interview.

Brush up on industry jargon

The industry jargon you need to learn depends on the type of firm you are applying for. For example, if you hope to enter immigration law, you probably won’t need to utilize corporate law buzzwords about mergers or acquisitions. More specifically, you may want to be knowledgeable about the law office itself where you are interviewing instead. The office’s executives or attorneys may have a unique approach or a select clientele base, which would greatly impact how you interact and what jargon you use.

An easier way to ensure that you use the appropriate language during your interview is to carefully review the job posting and law office’s website. If you notice there are particular phrases they reuse or messages they seem to convey, speak to these in your interview. While you wouldn’t want to repeat these words or ideas verbatim, you could tailor how to present yourself to specifically address their desires.

For example, many paralegal job postings require applicants with skills like “ability to work with little direction” or “pay close attention to detail.” Instead of just telling your interviewer that you are detail-oriented, provide examples of when you acted these ways on the job. While these buzzwords aren’t exactly specific to any one law sector, they are important for the industry as a whole.

Stay away from tired phrases

Hiring managers do not want to read or hear that you are a “hard worker.” Of course you work hard, otherwise, why would you be applying for a highly skilled job in a competitive industry? Even those who aren’t hard-working would never admit this fact during their interview. While you shouldn’t say outright you work hard, there are ways to rephrase this word and some of the other most tired buzzwords hiring managers see every day.

Avoid using the following buzzwords: creative thinker, excellent communicator, expert, responsible and innovator. Though all of these phrases may accurately describe your skill set, this doesn’t mean you should include them on your resume or say them during your interview because most candidates would do this. Try to think outside of the box when it comes to common interview phrases.

Going back to the hard worker example, prove you work hard, don’t just say it. Provide specific examples of times when you went above and beyond for your company or team. Focus on what you have achieved throughout your studies or in your career, and not just on the idea that you are willing to do your job well. This approach works well with “responsible,” as well. Instead of saying that your coworkers and managers can depend on you, show them why they can. Talk about times where you lead team members, managed people or successfully completed a project.

Integrate tech-heavy words

A large majority of law offices are turning to modern technology to improve their workloads and reduce their paper trail. Practices of all sizes may implement anything from an electronic filing system to international messaging software to improve business performance. Many of today’s paralegal staff should be up-to-date with the latest trends in legal technology. Applicants who can speak to their knowledge or experience working with specific legal technologies will certainly stand out in most paralegal interviews.

A few examples of tech-heavy jargon you might want to brush up on include cloud computing, Internet of Things, big data, productivity tools, mobile marketing, customer relationship management and lead nurturing. Technology is the way of the future, which means it is essential for new paralegals to understand which tech skills their hiring managers expect them to know and leverage.

From artificial intelligence to analytics to simply being able to make spreadsheets, there are plenty of tech buzzwords up-and-coming paralegals should use in their next interview. As mentioned previously, instead of just listing various programs or solutions you know how to use, you should give examples of times in which you used them to solve a problem or reach a solution at your previous job. Even if you are new to the legal field, you can use examples of times you use modern technology in your prior career or in school.

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Perhaps you are ready to make a career move into the legal arena? Maybe you have been working in the field for years, but want to boost your career prospects? People looking to make a career change or further their career advancement opportunities should consider the George Washington University’s Master’s in Paralegal Studies online.
As one of the few paralegal master’s degrees in the country, the program will equip current or future paralegals with the skills, experience and knowledge they need to succeed. Contact one of our program representatives today to learn more about our rigorous curriculum that you need to be prepared to enter into the legal field, along with our flexible online offerings to meet the demands of your busy schedule.


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