In terms of quality interview questions, “Describe a personal weakness or character flaw” falls right between “What’s your astrological sign?” and “What’s your favorite color?”
You can’t assess a candidate’s fit over the course of a few emails and one brief conversation. At least, not without asking the right questions!
Which practice areas do you handle?
An attorney specializing in business litigation will be useless to you if you’re looking for a lawyer for your corporate finance team. Start here, and get candidates to expand on their areas of expertise. Ask them to explain what their typical week looks like and how they approach their day-to-day legal work.
Your goal here isn’t really to learn about their specialty—that info should be in their résumé already—but rather, to hear them explain their qualifications in their own words. Look for candidates who speak passionately about their practice areas and have a good understanding of how their speciality will fit within your company’s framework.
Have you primarily worked in-house or in private practice?
Again, this is one you may be able to glean from their résumé, but it pays to hear candidates articulate their experiences. Learn more about their background and what has motivated their career decisions. If you’re a private law firm, you’ll want to avoid the (unfortunately high) number of candidates who view private practice as a mere stepping stone to a gig as an in-house consultant. Ask them about their previous experiences as well as their future aspirations, and see whether their career trajectory fits with your current staffing needs.
What’s your experience with regulatory bodies?
Depending on the hire’s experience, he/she may have extensive experience dealing with the SEC, government audits, or other entities with regulatory oversight of legal practice. If they do, you’ll want to know about it. Ask them to explain these interactions and what came of them. Was the hire’s firm able to navigate regulation without incurring penalties? Were they able to reduce their risk of future oversights? What role did the hire play in helping the firm become compliant?
These questions may be less relevant when hiring for lower-level staff like paralegals, but they’re essential data points to include when hiring attorneys and those performing direct legal work. Get details on their knowledge of any government laws, policies, and penalties that may be pertinent to your firm.
Why did you choose to apply for this firm?
Here’s where legal candidates really start to differentiate themselves. Ask why they chose to apply for your firm specifically. Do they believe their specific skills can contribute to your firm and reduce your need for litigation? Or did they just apply to the first opening they saw?
As a general hiring practice, look for candidates who have researched your firm ahead of time and put some thought into what they bring to the table. Proper judgment and preparation are must-have qualities for any legal professional, so prioritize hires who anticipate this question and have well-constructed answers.
Legal Staffing: Ask the Right Questions
Legal skillsets are complex. Even entry-level staff need good communication, organizational skills, and common sense, and when you start entering the territory of attorney staffing and hiring for senior-level roles, your expectations should expand accordingly. Use these questions to get a feel for each candidate, and keep in mind that tools like the Apex platform can do the heavy lifting for you and bring great candidates right to your door. Schedule a free demo to meet the right candidates today.