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When we interview prospective candidates, we tend to interview with the blanket purpose of determining whether or not the candidate is qualified for a job in our office. This is fine. But a successful interview will depend on something more than this.
Use these tips to ensure you are interviewing with the specific purpose of choosing a candidate who is a perfect fit for your office, will fulfill a clear role as one of your colleagues, and will contribute meaningfully both in the short and long term.
1. Study the Resume
A lot can be learned about a candidate from his or her resume. What did the candidate choose to highlight? Is the information substantive or routine? Are there major gaps in time between jobs? What are the candidate's hobbies and interests? This information sheds light on what the candidate values, whether the candidate has dedicated time to his professional development, and who the candidate would like you to believe he is.
2. Assess Professionalism
Generally speaking, new lawyers coming into a law firm or other legal practice will lack substantive skills. However, acting in a professional manner at all times and in all instances is within any new lawyer's skill set and absolutely mandatory. As an interviewer, a candidate's ability to demonstrate professionalism cannot be overlooked. Seek out candidates who understand that their professional attire, demeanor, and interpersonal skills are the biggest assets they bring with them into their legal practice. Candidates who excel in this area will act as the best representatives for your law firm or office down the line.
3. Engage in a Conversation
I have been on both sides of the interview process. As an interviewee, I often found that interviews were conducted in an antagonistic, deposition-like manner (particularly in some of the more rigid firms I interviewed with while still in law school). After each of these interviews, I walked away feeling defeated, but also feeling as though the interviewer had no idea who I was. This is a missed opportunity. Rather than rapid-fire, tough questions that don't really say much about the candidate or what the candidate will offer as an employee in your office, engage in conversation. Initiate a dialogue. Find commonalities or things about the person that you are curious about and explore those things. This is the best way to fulfill the purpose of finding a candidate who is likeable, sociable, intelligent, and engaging - qualities your colleagues and clients will undoubtedly value.
Desiree Moore is the President and founder of Greenhorn Legal, LLC. Greenhorn Legal offers intensive practical skills training programs for law students and new lawyers as they transition from law school into their legal practices. Ms. Moore is also an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and was an associate at the law firm of K&L Gates. She can be found on Twitter at @greenhornlegal.