in Careers Advice, Employers, Legal Profession, Training Contracts, Pupillage and Work Experience

Paralegals are more likely not to turn up for Job Interviews than any other staff. Why?

Out of 5 job interviews arranged for paralegals and junior fee earners, we estimate that 1 candidate will not turn up. For solicitors and legal executives we think the figure is closer to 1 in 20. Why? Here are our top reasons.

1. It is much easier to apply for a job than it is to explain in person why you should be given it.
2. Paralegals lack confidence in their legal knowledge and skills. Are they going to look silly when they attend the interview?
3. Romford to Luton as a daily commute looked fine when they applied.. Location is a key issue – paralegals don’t seem very good at identifying a reasonable distance to travel.
4. The thought of actually going out to work is considerably harder to contemplate than staying at home.
5. Whilst £18k sounded good when applying, the train fare will remove the first £3k of this.
6. Qualified solicitors and legal executives have jumped through a lot of hoops, worked very hard and actually attended job interviews to get where they are. A lot of potential paralegals and junior staff fail at the first hurdle.

Excuses for not attending job interviews include our top 5:

1. My grandmother, uncle, extended relative, 2nd cousin, close friend is seriously ill.
2. My grandmother, uncle, extended relative, 2nd cousin, close friend has died. (One candidate we know of has actually used this excuse on at least 4 separate occasions with 4 separate family members).
3. My car has broken down.
4. Family domestic crisis.
5. Unexpected client appointment.

How do we minimise the chances of candidates not attending interview?

1. We double check and sometimes triple check the location with them prior to interview.
2. We contact them before the interview to check they are still planning to attend.
3. We ask the question about location before putting them forward for the interview. Very often we indicate journey times and distances from train stations if relevant.
4. We keep our fingers crossed that no relatives are going to meet a sticky end on the day of interview…


Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at