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Six suggestions for effective interviews (plus two additional ideas)

The suggestions for how to improve interviews of job applicants come from Money, Vol. 37, Sept. 2008 at 52. I have added two more at the end.

1. Send candidates ahead of time a profile of the company and the law department.

2. Allow enough time for the interview discussion to proceed with relaxation, “at least 30 minutes but no longer than 45 minutes with each candidate.”

3. Prepare questions in advance to ask the candidate. Mostly, “stick with open-ended questions” (See my post of Jan. 1, 2006: past behavioral interviewing – PBI.).

4. Ask each candidate for the same position generally similar questions so you can compare responses.

5. Encourage the candidate to speak for most of the interview period. One rule of thumb is to let them talk at leastt 80 percent of the time.

6. Write down your opinion of the person and the reasons for it immediately after the interview.

A few other suggestions I would add. One global law department, when it hires any high-level lawyers, puts the preferred candidate through a separate review process with an outside firm that assesses people by psychometric, IQ and EQ analysis, as well as “fit” against the company’s ethos and values (See my post of Nov. 22, 2006: personality instruments as part of the interview process.).

The more people involved in the interview process, the longer it takes, and strong candidates may not wait that long (See my post of Oct. 1, 2006: shorten the interview process.). However, the repercussions of a wrong hire are too severe to shorten the process too much. Many general counsel want several people in the interviewing process. The chemistry within the department after a new hire joins is too important to rush the process.

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