An interesting study from the US found that lawyers hire people they feel they can have fun with.
Lauren A Rivera, Associate Professor of Management and Organisations at the Kellogg School of Management at North Western University, carried out the research and found that ‘personal fit’ was deemed more important than cultural fit, according to the New York Times.
Rivera interviewed 120 recruiters within top US law firms, investment banks and management consultancies. She found that personal enjoyment and fun were areas that lawyers were most interested in when hiring someone.
One law recruiter said: “The best way I could describe it is like if you were on a date. You kind of know when there’s a match.” Others reported using the ‘airport test’ – which candidate would they most like to spend time with if stuck at an airport?
The report found that discovering shared experiences was one of the “most powerful sources of chemistry”. However, this had a significant impact on diversity as interviewers were primarily interested in new hires whose hobbies, hometowns and biographies matched their own.
Holding interests in common such as “rowing college crew, getting certified in scuba, sipping single-malt Scotches in the Highlands or dining at Michelin-starred restaurants” were evidence of fit to many, while sharing a love of teamwork or a passion for pleasing clients was not.
Rivera warned that in the elite firms that she studied in, the types of shared experiences associated with fit typically required large investments of time and money, excluding many candidates.
“Class-biased definitions of fit are one reason investment banks, management consulting firms and law firms are dominated by people from the highest socioeconomic backgrounds.
“Also, whether the industry is finance, high-tech or fashion, a good fit in most American corporations still tends to be stereotypically masculine. Consequently, fit can exclude high-performing candidates — female or male — who are more stereotypically feminine.”
The study also found that teams of people who were too similar to one another could produce negative results as they were more likely to be too ‘overconfident, ignore vital information and make poor (or even unethical) decisions’”.
Some interesting thoughts from the US which I am sure also rings true in the UK legal market!