Effective Interviewing Techniques

Arranging for a Successful Interview

It is well known that the first impression a firm or company makes on a candidate will be a critical factor in the candidate’s decision-making process. Almost any IP attorney candidate our firm provides will be heavily sought after, so we strongly recommend an interview schedule that is as productive and seamless as possible. These important tips can make the difference.

  • Make a good initial impression — one that will set your company apart from the others. Be positive, and appreciative of the candidate’s time. As a candidate arrives, or during the interview process, the offer of a beverage and/or snack is always appreciated. Some candidates might not have had a chance to get their morning coffee, or their lunch, as they might be arriving just in the nick of time because of traffic, a busy schedule, or unforeseen circumstances. This small gesture could go a long way in securing a successful interview.

  • Provide a detailed interview schedule to the candidate and have a company representative brief the candidate prior to the interview on whom they will be meeting. This should further engage the candidate and make him or her feel more comfortable (especially if it includes insights into personalities or information that cannot be accessed through prior research). Highlight any changes to the interview schedule originally provided to the candidate. An interview schedule should include attorneys or other personnel with whom the candidate will be working and/or reporting to. An interview schedule should include attorneys or other personnel with whom the candidate will be working and/or reporting to.

  • Give professional and informative introductions. This is always recognized and appreciated. Also indicate in what capacity the candidate would be working with the other person.

  • A professional representative of the firm/company who can make the candidate feel welcome and volunteer information about the general work environment, organization of the firm or department, training, professional growth opportunities, firm/company plans for expanding, benefits, and hours is always appreciated by a candidate. All candidates like to depart from an interview with the feeling that they gained valuable information about these details.

  • Provide a detailed job description that all interviewers have reviewed. Outline definite or general qualifications of the successful candidate and questions for the candidate that relate to the job description.

  • All interviewers should have a copy of the candidate’s resume and prepare by familiarizing themselves with the candidate’s background. This will definitely assist in a smooth interview.

  • Try to schedule interviews among different levels of personnel—for example, associates, partners, paralegals, and scientists—to get a good sense of how the candidate communicates with various staff members. This also allows the candidate to become more familiar with the firm/company.

  • Questions such as why the candidate is considering a move and what are the candidate’s career objectives are also important to determine whether this position can meet the candidate’s short- or long-term objectives. Visit our Interviewing Questions link for additional questions.

  • A free and fair exchange of information should also take place during the interview to develop rapport and assist in determining the following: good verbal and nonverbal communication skills; maturity and a sense of responsibility; reasons the candidate is interested in this position and/or place of employment; degree of motivation and/or enthusiasm; ability to solve problems and analyze issues; and whether the candidate has some qualities that set him or her apart from the other applicants.

Ending the Interview

It is critical that the end of the interview is pleasant. Good tips for ending the interview include the following:

  • Always have a representative of the firm/company extend a thank-you for the candidate’s time and consideration. This representative should also make sure the candidate has had all questions answered and has been provided a firm/company contact in case he or she has follow-up questions.

  • It is also important that the candidate is escorted to the proper exit. Some of our clients even escort our candidates to the main lobby of a building, which is nice.

  • In the event the interview has gone well, that should also be communicated to the candidate as well as what to expect in the next step in the process.

  • When an interview has gone well, it is critical to start the information gathering process. The following items should be requested at this time if they have not already been provided (some of our clients prefer to have some of this information prior to the interview):

    • Transcripts

    • Writing Sample

    • References

    • Background check information

    • Conflict check information

  • When an interview has gone well, it is appropriate to ask about the candidate’s compensation and timing. When gathering information about compensation, be sure to collect the following:

    • Base salary and, just as importantly, when the candidate’s next raise or promotion is supposed to happen

    • Any annual, quarterly, or production bonuses

    • Stock options and/or awards

    • Retirement benefits

    • Any monies the candidate may be losing by making a job move, such as invested stock or retirement benefits

    • Current vacation time and time already accrued

    • Profit sharing

  • In the event of no further interest in a candidate, a letter or call should be made as soon as possible after the interview.

Making Sure the Candidate is a Good Match

These suggestions may be helpful to ensure that a candidate is a good match, especially if there was some doubt after the initial interview:

  • Second interviews are terrific and generally very successful in solidifying a hiring authority’s decision.

  • A follow-up phone interview could be sufficient, especially if the first round of interviews was extensive.

  • An invitation to breakfast, lunch, or dinner can also be very productive to see how a candidate conducts him or herself in a casual setting.

  • Having the candidate meet a client or scientist of the company/firm can also be very productive to ensure that both parties can successfully work together.

Avoid

  • Questions that do not pertain to the position or to the person’s qualifications

  • All illegal or inappropriate questions
  • Interviews with attorneys and/or personnel who do not know anything about the position and/or responsibilities. If a candidate is interviewing with someone with whom he or she will not be working, be sure that the interviewer can at least speak well on behalf of the firm/company and provide valuable information to the candidate.

  • Making the interview an interrogation process. No candidate should be grilled. This is an ineffective interviewing style and will turn off the best of candidates. You may even make an offer, but it will be turned down if you engage in interrogating the candidate.

Collecting Feedback

It is important to collect detailed feedback and to have an organized and efficient system for making quick decisions. Timing is always critical, especially when recruiting very well credentialed and highly sought after candidates. All firms should have the following in place:

  • Candidate interview evaluation form – this should be useful for writing down comments after the interview. This form should have specific criteria that are important to the firm/company and position qualifications, and it should be filled out immediately, while the interview is still fresh in one’s mind, to assist in making a quick decision.

  • Flexibility for meeting and discussing candidates on short notice after interviews. Too many candidates are lost because of a rigid "meet once a month" policy to determine what candidates should be hired. Time is always of the essence.

Going the Extra Mile – Making a Strong Recruiting Effort

If the "perfect" candidate comes along, the best advice we can give is to act quickly and to remember: timing is everything — this cannot be emphasized enough! These additional suggestions may be helpful:

  • Have a representative of the firm/company follow up with a call and let the candidate know how well the candidate was liked as well as emphasize how the candidate’s qualifications are perfect for the position available.

  • This follow-up phone call is also an opportunity to ask whether the candidate has any questions. The representative should ask the following:

    • Does the candidate have any concerns about the firm and/or position? This is critical to determine whether some changes can be made to make this position more appealing. This question is also generally recognized by the candidate as highlighting that the firm/company is sensitive to what is important to the candidate.

    • Would the candidate be interested in coming back to meet more individuals?

  • Remember, most candidates make a job move for professional growth. Growth opportunities should be emphasized as well as any other important details about the job that will benefit the candidate in this position.

  • A casual dinner or lunch invitation is usually well received.

  • Acting in a short period of time can most definitely emphasize a firm or company’s interest and is always appreciated by the candidate. Candidates can be flattered.

Please do not hesitate to connect with Premier’s executive staff for any assistance during this process. We have years of experience and can most definitely guide you in successful interviewing strategies. Good luck!

 Contact Premier Legal Staffing, Inc. for the latest information on competitive salaries within the intellectual property field of law.