Our trusted partners SecsintheCitythe UK’s leading job site for business support professionals, have provided us with their expert advice on how to answer scenario questions in your next Legal PA interview. A commonly dreaded part of any interview - the following article is curated to help settle your fears, help you lean into your strengths and, ultimately, help you succeed in your interview.

As a Legal PA, situational challenges are a part of the day-to-day job. The ability to think on your feet, and act in a proactive manner comes with the territory. The way you assess, react to, and combat challenges determines your status as a ‘great PA’, meaning that scenario questions are almost a given when interviewing for a Legal PA role.

Scenario questions pull on your training, skills and experience, aiming to analyse your ability to apply your knowledge and expertise to real-world situations. Questions will be designed and tailored to evaluate how well you can think critically, problem-solve, and make decisions in a practical context.

Learning about and practising common personal assistant interview questions and answers can help you feel confident when entering the interview. Below, we’ve included a few sample scenario questions, techniques to follow, and employer expectations to bear in mind.

What’s the purpose of scenario questions?

Scenario questions are used by an interviewer to test your problem solving abilities as a Legal PA, posing hypothetical questions that may come up in your day-to-day as their new employee. Employers want to see how candidates analyse problems, identify solutions, and make decisions under pressure.

Scenario questions test your:

  • Practical knowledge: no matter whether you’re applying for an entry-level position, or a more senior legal role, scenario questions aim to help interviewers gauge a candidate's practical understanding of the job. It allows them to assess if you can apply theoretical knowledge to real-life situations.
  • Decision-making processes: by presenting a scenario, employers can gain insights into a candidate's decision-making process. This includes understanding the candidate's priorities, thought processes, and the rationale behind their decisions.
  • Future performance: this part of the interview aims to predict your future performance on the job by assessing your ability to handle realistic challenges. This helps employers gauge how well a candidate might adapt to the specific demands of the role.
  • Communication skills: as a Legal PA, communication is a crucial part of the role; responding to scenario questions requires effective and succinct communication. Employers want to see how well candidates articulate their thoughts, explain their reasoning, and convey information.

How to answer scenario questions?

As detailed in this ‘Interview Preparation: How to Flourish in a PA Job Interview article, scenario questions are best answered in a concise manner, using the star technique:

• Situation - the situation you had to deal with.

• Task - the task you were given to do.

• Action - the action you took.

• Result – the result of your action and what you learned from the experience.

What kind of scenario questions will you be asked as a potential Legal PA?

Example question: Describe a time when you had to multitask and prioritise conflicting priorities. How did you manage the situation?


• Situation:

“In my prior role as a Legal PA at ‘law firm x,’ I experienced a week wherein several urgent tasks demanded my attention simultaneously.”

• Task:

“A lawyer I work closely with required in-depth legal research and brief preparation for an upcoming court case, while the managing partner needed assistance in reviewing and summarising complex contractual agreements for a crucial client meeting.”

• Action:

“To navigate this conflicting situation, I first assessed the urgency and criticality of each task. Recognising the time sensitivity of the legal research and brief preparation, I communicated with the managing partner to explain the situation and negotiated adjusted timelines for the contractual agreement review. This ensured clarity and set realistic expectations."

"Next, I meticulously organised a task list, breaking down each legal project into manageable steps. This allowed me to allocate time efficiently and identify any overlapping elements that could be addressed concurrently. I also collaborated with the legal support team, delegating specific research tasks and document reviews to ensure everyone's expertise contributed effectively to meeting the deadlines.”

• Result:

“Throughout the process, maintaining open lines of communication with both the lead attorney and managing partner remained crucial. I provided regular updates on the legal research progress to the lawyer in question, allowing for any necessary adjustments. Simultaneously, I kept the managing partner informed about the contractual agreement review status, addressing concerns promptly."

“By strategically multitasking, prioritising based on legal urgency, and fostering transparent communication, I successfully completed both legal projects within the established timelines. This experience underscored my ability to handle high-pressure legal situations and demonstrated my commitment to delivering accurate and timely results, even when faced with conflicting priorities.”

Example question: Tell us about a time wherein you handled unexpected changes or last-minute requests from executives?


• Situation:

"In my role as a Legal PA at ‘Law Firm X’ I frequently encountered situations demanding adaptability and rapid problem-solving. One specific instance exemplifies this."

• Task:

“One afternoon, a senior partner was scheduled to attend a critical conference the next day. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, there was a need to rearrange travel plans, requiring extensive adjustments to the entire itinerary.”

• Action:

“Upon receiving this last-minute request, I promptly contacted the travel agency to modify existing flight reservations and hotel accommodations. Simultaneously, I reached out to the conference organisers, communicating the changes to ensure seamless integration of the senior partner into key legal sessions and meetings.”

“Recognising the tight timeline, I collaborated with the driver to coordinate transportation to and from the airport and conference venue. I provided the senior partner with a comprehensive updated itinerary, highlighting the changes and ensuring all necessary legal documents and materials were prepared for the revised schedule. To minimise disruptions to the legal workflow, I also rescheduled non-essential meetings and communicated the adjustments to relevant legal team members.”

• Result:

“In the end, the senior partner’s travel plans were successfully rearranged without any negative impact on their participation in the conference. This experience underscored my ability to stay composed under pressure, think on my feet, and execute changes seamlessly to accommodate last-minute requests from executives.”

Example question: Can you tell me about a time you’ve demonstrated discretion whilst dealing with confidential information?


• Situation:

"In my previous position at ‘Law Firm X’, our firm was in the midst of negotiating a significant merger - I played a crucial role in managing confidential documents, financial data, and sensitive communication between our legal team and potential partners. The negotiations were at a critical stage, and any unauthorised disclosure could have had severe consequences for the deal and our firm's reputation.”

• Task:

“I was responsible for coordinating meetings between our team and external parties, managing the secure flow of documentation, and ensuring the confidentiality of all information. During this period, I encountered a situation where a document containing vital financial details was inadvertently left in a common area.”

• Action:

“Recognising the potential risk, I took immediate steps to address the situation. I secured the document, identified who had access to the area, and discreetly informed the individuals involved. Simultaneously, I reported the incident to the senior legal executives, providing a detailed account of the situation and outlining the corrective actions taken.”

“To prevent future incidents, I proposed and implemented additional security measures, such as enhanced document tracking and restricted access protocols for sensitive information. I also conducted a brief training session for the legal team on the importance of confidentiality and the specific procedures to follow when handling sensitive legal documents.”

• Result:

“This experience not only highlighted my diligence in safeguarding confidential legal information but also showcased my ability to act promptly and responsibly in high-pressure situations. It emphasised the importance of proactive measures to prevent breaches of confidentiality, reinforcing my commitment to upholding the highest standards of trust and integrity in my role as a leading Legal PA.”

For more interview advice and the latest Legal PA tips, discover SecsintheCity’s dedicated Interview Tips section of their blog.

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