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Technical Testing at Interview

Technical Testing at Interview

How many times as a recruiter have I heard a client tell me that a candidate, who impressed at interview, failed to deliver the goods when in situ with the firm. If I had a penny then I could retire happily and leave this world of legal recruitment behind me.

But alas, unfortunately legal recruitment can sometimes be a gamble and in our busy schedules we often do not have the luxury of time to slow things down, take stock, and make measured recruitment decisions. So what can we do to make sure the odds are stacked in our favour and that the people we hire are the right people with the right skills for the job?

I always advocate technical testing as part of the interview process. In fact I cannot imagine an argument that could justify NOT technical testing at interview. If someone claims to be an EL/PL lawyer on their CV and can talk a good game could a total fraud with the gift of the gab get through the interview process without ever having EL/PL experience? You would be surprised.

I have often wondered, with the pressure of work coming in and clients to keep happy, if in some instances interviewers hear what they want want to hear rather than dig that little bit deeper behind a candidate’s experience.

To negate this I believe that technical testing should form part of the first stage interview process. Why not split the interview in half with a candidate sitting a case study relevant to the job they are interviewing for in the first 30 minutes and then the next 30 minutes have a face to face CV based discussion? For example if you have an insurance fraud requirement why not put together a suspected fraudulent road traffic accident and ask questions surrounding what further information would need to be obtained? For a pre litigation role why not have a CPR test around the pre-action protocol?

Should you be pushed for time in the interview you could always give the candidate the case study in advance to prepare then discuss the answers face to face. If not putting together a case study or legal scenario then technical questions should be devised to challenge technical ability. One of my insurance litigation clients is renowned for being particularly tough at interview – their case study involves complex legal issues with multiple defendants where there is no right answer – it is all about how you approach a problem. Candidates however feel they have earned the job offer after such a tough interview, and recognise the quality of lawyers this firm recruits.

Remember knowledge is power and I would always advise changing technical questions around. Recruiters are good at getting information from people and one of the first questions we will ask when taking feedback from a candidate is “what were you asked at interview.…”

It might seem like I am stating the obvious but I have some clients who spent 45 minutes with a candidate at interview and then an offer follows. How someone’s suitability for a role can be judged in such a short time I have no idea; how a candidate can make a potentially life changing career decision after 45 minutes is a whole other blog!

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