Open-ended questions of job seekers allow employers to peek into new kinds of personal information, and importantly information that can’t be deliberately constructed. As explained in the Economist, Nov. 11, 2006 at 92, “by asking a person’s opinion of colleagues, the company he works for and where he sees himself in five years time, a rich image of the person can be created.” Law departments in the full flush of recruitment might avail themselves of these sophisticated tools.
Even better, out of the complex mix of so-called “personal cognitive dimensions” that thereby becomes analyzable, software can represent the answers as three-dimensional grids. The grids allow employers to grasp personality features visually and to compare people in terms of their personalities (See my posts of April 27, 2006 on psychometric screens; Dec. 9, 2005 about working with people we like; and Jan. 1, 2006 about the technique of past behavioral interviews.).
The law department can compare a person to a composite of successful job holders: “Here’s how the personality mix of successful bankruptcy lawyers looks ….” The same capabilities can tell a law department about its current members.