Reinventing the Interview Process

May 14, 2018

The traditional candidate interview: the perfect time for the law firm or in-house legal department to ask a candidate about their skills and experience to see if they’re a fit for their legal team.  Formats can vary – in-person or phone interview; structured or unstructured; behavioural or competency questions (the list goes on) – but the traditional interview has been the legal industry standard for a long time. This type of interview is still widely used and considered effective in finding the right candidate, however, they can fall short especially when sizing up a candidate’s soft skills.

LinkedIn recently released a study with five techniques that have come on the scene to improve the traditional interview model. The first technique, online soft skills assessments, measures traits like teamwork and curiosity and gives a more holistic picture of candidates earlier in the process. In job auditions, companies pay candidates to do real work so that they can observe skills in action. Casual interviews typically take place over a meal and can offer a unique look into a candidate’s character. With virtual reality (VR), companies immerse candidates in simulated 3-D environments to test their skills in a standardized way. Video interviews can be recorded or live and help by tapping a broader talent pool in far less time.

Traditional interviews can be costly. LinkedIn ran studies to show that soft skills tests and video interviews are replacing traditional phone screens, selecting for potential rather than experience, quickly and at scale. Job auditions are helping screen groups of candidates too, but they’re also being used after traditional interviews to assess individuals for longer periods of time. Virtual reality assessments are being used in conjunction with in-person interviews while casual interviews are typically added afterward to get another perspective before final decision-making.

LinkedIn has stated these types of emerging trends have significant effects. Interviewers say, it provides them a more realistic snapshot of candidates’ personalities, candidates can try out a job for fit, there is less bias than traditional formats and candidates can’t lie about their skills.

The head of Global Camus Recruiting at CITI – Courtney Storz says “Soft skills assessments are here to stay. In today’s environment there is such a demand for information. We all want information to make better hiring decisions, to better understand who is most likely to be successful at our firms, and who is most likely to stay. These assessments are meant do just that, hence our interest in testing and learning.”

When finding the right fit is key to successfully building out your legal team, having one or more alternatives to the traditional interview method in your back pocket has the potential to make your hiring process more efficient in the long run (and ideally more successful). In some cases, the best hiring process may involve some combination of the traditional method along with one or more of the new models – e.g. traditional in-person interview followed by an online soft skills assessment, followed by a casual interview.

Has your law firm or in-house legal department used any of these alternative interview methods? Were they more successful or efficient than the traditional interview model used alone?

Akash Bir, Director