As a senior member of a law firm you probably know that it’s tougher than ever to consistently identify great employees. Interviewing is one of those occasions in your career where it seems like you are just supposed to know what to do. But usually an interviewer rarely touches the surface of what it takes to effectively identify a great candidate from a good one.
It is beneficial to reflect on the following points.
Do your questions seem random and have no clear purpose?
Do you actually listen to answers very closely?
Do you delve deeper than the first response to a question?
And do you talk more than the candidate during the interview?
Most people’s interview approach is somewhat random and ends up relying solely on intuition when selecting a new employee. While your instinct about a person has some merit, it can’t be the only thing you go on. So, here are some tips for conducting more rewarding job interviews.
Always Ensure The Candidate Is As Comfortable As Possible.
The interview process can be quite nerve wracking for candidates. Even for talented applicants it can be a serious source of anxiety. As an interviewer you want to see candidates at their absolute best, not at their most nervous – because (hopefully) that’s not representative of your firm’s work environment. To clarify, your goal is not to discover the best applicant at doing interviews, but to find the person who is going to perform best at the job. As such, at the start of interviews it will help greatly if you are friendly and smile a lot. Ask how their day is going and if they had any trouble finding the interview location, followed by some easy questions to help them settle in.
Sell The Job.
In law the competition between firms to secure the best candidates first can be high. In some specific areas candidates with the sought-after experience can have two or three competing offers, so you need to make sure that your job is the most appealing. Not selling the role and conducting the interview as though you have all the power is a really good way to ensure you end up recruiting a mediocre team. It is important to try and convince all applicants how great the job is. As an interviewer, you goal should be to have every single person leaving the interview desperately wanting to land the job.
There is a problem when an interviewer dominates the conversation. If you’re talking for more than a third of the interview, you need to stop. Your main task is to fully understand the candidate. The best interviews are those where the interviewer likes to listen and is clearly interested in what the candidate has to say.
Ask One More Question
Keep the conversation flowing and discover more in-depth information about the candidate by automatically asking one follow-up question for every answer a candidate gives. Don’t just run through a list of questions and then try to figure out who you liked the best based on the answers. And don’t just accept the first answer at face value. What differentiates good candidates from great ones lives one more level down. My recommendation is to automatically ask a follow up question after each candidate response. Don’t try and pick and choose the spots to do this; just do it every time. This will allow you to get the candidate off their prepared script and give greater visibility into how they really think.
As you progress your career in law, interviewing technique quickly becomes one of the most important skills to be mastered. We can all become better interviewers by reserving judgment and avoiding those quick hiring decisions.