Tom Fleet
Tom Fleet

Articles From the Team

In house legal vacancies and automated testing procedures

Of these 4 adjectives, which describes your character ‘most’, and which describes you character ‘least’

A) refreshing B) respectful C) reserved or D) resourceful?

Or how about; A) idealistic B) independent C) inoffensive, or D) inspiring?!

At the recent DLA Piper WIN seminars (“The Language of Leaders”), attendees were asked to answer these questions, and another 38 questions of a similar type. On the basis of the answers and the automated psychological profiling we were grouped into Analytical, Amiable, Expressive, Driver types and undertook some very thought provoking exercises.

Such psychological assessments can be very well regarded and are undoubtedly highly complex tools, offering very useful insights if used in the right way. But how useful are generic tests in identifying your next in house legal employee, when the job of an in-house lawyer is far from generic and requires a high degree of specialist knowledge?

My anecdotal experience of the issue is gleaned from 2 separate occasions last year, where BCL Legal was involved on a piece of recruitment to secure in-house lawyer to 2 different roles.

Both recruitment projects included numerical / verbal reasoning tests and personality questionnaires, set by the internal HR teams, but with no legal element to the exercise. Coincidentally (or not?) both clients were major international companies with many thousands of employees.

In both of the cases, applicants who possessed (in my opinion) a strong match between their skills and the role profile ‘failed’ the N/VR test and hence were not called to interview. The rigid process was adhered to and the in house line managers (Heads of Legal) were not allowed to interview the candidates and get a chance to assess suitability in a more rounded fashion. Was this sensible, or was it slavish adherence to process without looking at the bigger picture?

My view was that it would have been wiser to have met with the candidates, with the test results in mind as a caveat, and to have focussed questioning on those , but not to have ruled said candidates out of the process completely, as it seemed that the tests they were asked to sit were testing inappropriate skills for the role.

In short these tests were seen as inviolable, and took no truck with the wider context of the appointment, local market conditions, or particular skills needed to be a success in the role. One Head of Legal was frustrated by this, the other took the view that it was a good thing and saved him wasting time. What would you have thought?

Having a comparable metric like these tests to assist in the tricky business of recruitment can seem like a great idea, but the test needs to be appropriate, and common sense must also be factored into the process. The testing should surely assist in making your decisions, rather than making them for you, and one mustn't lose sight of the overall goal.

If you would like to know about the above then please visit our website BCL Legal/BCL Legal Jobs or contact Tom Fleet.

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