Juliet Lawson
Juliet Lawson
Senior Associate: Private Practice

Articles From the Team

8 simple rules for conducting a constructive interview process

I head up the Leeds commercial desk at BCL Legal so I have a clear and accurate picture of the market, including what it looks like across the full range of commercial disciplines. To sum up in one simple sentence: the market is desperately short of good candidates, and law firms are holding onto their talent as if their lives depend on it!

So, you’re looking to hire a solicitor to join your busy and expanding team. How do you give yourselves the best chance of success?

Assuming you’ve managed to reach a point in the process where a number of candidates have applied for the role, there are some simple rules to follow. It won’t guarantee you’ll find the right person for your vacancy, but it will certainly give you a good shot at it.

Don’t sit on a good CV

If you see a good CV, don’t sit on it for a fortnight to see who else applies so that you can shortlist the best candidates. They may be the best candidate, and they’ll probably be interviewing elsewhere.

The ball rolls

Bring your candidates to interview as quickly as you can. Free up diaries, offer alternative interviewers, don’t go on holiday; do whatever you need to do. Don’t lose candidates to another law firm because the diaries are ‘too busy’.

Ask the right questions

  • Ask them what they know about the firm and the team
  • Ask a select number of technical questions to suss out their technical ability
  • Ask them about their experience to see how articulately they can describe the key issues involved - in the matters they deal with
  • Find out where they see their career going
  • Find out who else they’re talking to

Feedback is everything

Provide clear, helpful and constructive feedback (whether you want to take the application forward or not).

When you give good feedback, candidates will remember you in a positive way, and if it’s positive feedback, it helps to keep the candidate engaged in the process; especially so if you’re scheduled to see other candidates.

Mitigate ‘ghosting’

If your candidates are interviewing elsewhere, make sure you’re aware of it. This includes knowledge of the process stage – if you want to keep that candidate in your process, make sure either you or your resourcing team are liaising regularly with them or their agency. You don’t want to get caught out (have them disappear and take a job elsewhere). In this market, things move quickly and communication is the key.

Act promptly!

With this in mind, move your process forward as quickly and efficiently as you can in order to minimise the risk of losing a good candidate to another role.

Be open-minded

If you think you’ve found the perfect candidate, but you have other people to see (and your perfect candidate is also interviewing elsewhere), consider short-circuiting the process and offering them the role. Weigh up the situation and be prepared to take a view on it.

Consider potential landmines

Know what the potential landmines are when it comes to the candidate you want to move forward with:

  • Is the salary you’re offering enough for them?
  • Do they need flexible working?
  • Is the role at the right level?

If you’re working with a recruitment agency, ensure you have these conversations up front; before you put an offer together.

All’s fair in love, war and recruitment; sometimes, it feels like a pitched battle to get your preferred candidate over the line.

Good luck and we’re always happy to help!

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