12 Tips to Ace Your Deposition

Having your deposition taken is stressful, no matter how innocuous the subject matter.  Here are twelve tips to help get you prepared for a successful depostion.

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Tell the truth.

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Listen to the question. Answer that question and only that question – no more, no less. Resist the temptation to be helpful or get out your side of the story, or “fill in the blanks.”

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Do not answer a question that you have not heard completely; ask that it be repeated. Do not answer a question you do not understand, and do not be afraid to say that you do not understand. Do not help the examiner by saying “do you mean X” or “I think you mean…”

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Think about your answer before you respond to the question. This permits time for you to make sure that you understand the question and can prepare your answer properly.

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Answer each question accurately, but as briefly as possible. Respond only to the question asked and do not volunteer information. Do not try to explain why you did or said something.

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In connection with answering questions: 

(1) Do not make up an answer, even though you think that it is what the answer probably is or ought to be. 

(2) Do not guess, speculate or assume. 

(3) Do not be afraid to say that you don’t remember, if in fact you do not remember.  

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Do not argue with the examining attorney. Do not let him or her make you angry; anger can provoke people into saying things they do not mean.

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Be polite, but not friendly. It is a good technique for the opposing lawyer to appear to be friendly to you. Thus, do not believe that the opposing attorney is your friend.

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Where there is a silence, do not try to fill the silence. Answer the question, then be quiet. Do not be embarrassed by the silence. Wait for the next question.

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Do not let the examiner put words in your mouth. Rephrase the question into a sentence of your own, using your own words.

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Certain things may be asked in your deposition which are personal but which the opposing party is entitled to ask about.  These may include:

(a) marital history;

(b) educational background; 

(c) religious affiliation; 

(d) employment history, including current and previous employment; 

(e) personal and family income; 

(f) previous residences; 

(g) any arrests or criminal convictions; and

(h) driving record in some cases. 

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Remember that you may ask for a break at any time you want one.