Effective Interviewing Skills and The Interviewing Process

Materials you should request prior to the interview

It is important to stress that the request for information should be done prior to the interview but NOT be contingent upon whether or not to interview the candidate. We emphasize – time is of the essence!!! If you have to wait for all this information, such as transcripts and writing samples, prior to making a decision on whether or not to interview a good solid candidate, that candidate may already be hired by the time that decision is made. It happens all the time. What Premier Legal Staffing finds as the most efficient way to go about the interview process and NOT loose candidates to your competition is to set up a phone interview first, and based on that conversation, make your decision on whether or not to interview the candidate. The following information should always be requested prior to an interview and reviewed prior to making any offer decisions if possible:

  • Transcripts
  • Writing samples
  • References

To be one step ahead of your competition, remember to send candidates a firm brochure or corporate profile to review prior to the interview. It is always very important to try to include an interviewing schedule, who to ask for upon arrival, and a phone number of who to contact in the event there are any questions.

Preparing for the Interviewee

  • Review the candidate’s résumé first thing in the morning and NOT before the candidate is just about to enter your office. In the event you have specific questions regarding the résumé, such as legal or technical questions, write them down. Draft your questions and refer to these throughout the interview.

  • Become familiar with the job description. Highlight the most important aspects of the job and make sure they are discussed throughout the interview.

  • Select a comfortable environment for both of you. Welcome the candidate. Remember this is a free exchange of information, so be sure to allow the candidate to interview you just as you interview him/her.

  • Have a tablet ready and take lots of notes. Never rely on your memory alone. Indicate a record of your impressions and reactions when certain questions are asked. You may also want to write down certain things by which to remember your
    candidate such as a piece of clothing, hair color, etc.

The Interviewing Process and Effective Interviewing Skills

Interviewing skills can come natural to some people and others don’t know what to say or do. The most important thing to remember is that the entire process should be a free exchange of information. An interviewer should always be familiar with a good job description, which will make the interview easier and more productive for both parties. The following suggestions are to assist our hiring authorities in becoming an excellent interviewer:

  • Welcome the candidate. Establish rapport and make the candidate feel comfortable. Light conversation is recommend to ease the tension. It is always helpful to provide a thorough interview schedule and prepare the candidate on who he/she will be meeting. Try to always prepare a candidate for any difficult or unusual individuals he/she may encounter through the interview process.

  • Evaluate his/her appearance, personality, and demeanor.

  • Summarize the position. Briefly describe the job, the kind of candidate you are seeking, and the standard
    interviewing process.

  • Ask your questions. Questions should be relevant to the position and candidate’s legal and technical experience, education, and/or other related topics.

  • Always ask candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Evaluate special accomplishments and organizational ability.

  • Give him/her information about the firm/company. Let him/her know as much as possible about the job and general office environment. Share knowledge of special functions or activities in which the firm/company is involved.

  • Allow the candidate to ask questions and also give him/her the opportunity to provide information that he/she may feel is necessary for you to make your decision.

Interviewing Questions

  • Why are you looking for a move?
  • Why are you interested in working for us?
  • What qualifications do you have that make your background appropriate for this position—both legally and technically?
  • Please explain the depth of your technical areas of focus.
  • Please explain the type of legal work you have been involved in recently and in the past.
  • What is your general work ethic (values, views on work and responsibilities, etc.)?
  • Are you actively involved in professional associations?
  • Do you consider yourself a team player?
  • Have you ever had a conflict with another employee in your past employment? What were the circumstances?
  • What hours have you worked in the past, and are you concerned with long hours?
  • Are you willing to work longer hours or weekends, if necessary?
  • In the event the candidate has to relocate, ask him or her: Why are you considering this geographical area?
  • Do you have any family ties or significant connections to the local area?
  • What would you say are some of your most significant professional accomplishments?
  • What are your greatest professional strengths and some of your biggest weaknesses?
  • Were there any unusual difficulties you had to overcome in your professional career thus far?
  • What are some of the things you learned in your last job?
  • What planning or organizational processes have you found useful in your daily routine?
  • What organizational skills have you improved over the last few years?
  • What types of decisions are difficult for you to make, and what type are the easiest?
  • If there are any gaps in a resume, ask why there are gaps between jobs.
  • What are the reasons you have made your past job moves?
  • Have you ever been fired or laid off? What were the circumstances?
  • What are your aspirations for the future? Or: Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What is your current salary (base, bonus, stock, benefits)?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • When would you be available to start in the event you are offered a position?

Questions you should never ask during an interview

  • Candidate’s race or skin color
  • Candidate’s national origin
  • Candidate’s sex
  • Candidates religion (or lack of)
  • Candidate’s arrest and conviction record
  • Candidate’s height and weight
  • Candidate’s debts
  • Candidate’s disabilities
  • Candidate’s marital status

Evaluating Your Candidate

In some cases you may prefer a candidate because of his/her personality or charisma, regardless of the work ability. Make sure to ask yourself the following questions so as to get the most qualified candidate;

  • Do the candidate’s credentials meet your standards?
  • Have you reviewed a writing sample?
  • Does the candidate have the skills and experience you desire?
  • Is the candidate within your salary range?

Sometimes you are faced with two equally qualified candidates. It is important then to consider factors such as relocation and ties to the area. It is also very important to consider the candidate’s personality and who you think may better fit into the group. When evaluating a candidate, one should try to make a list as to what is most important to him/her and start from there. These are only suggestions which we feel may assist you.

Offers and Offer Letter

Offers are best when they are made in person or by phone and followed by a formal offer letter. Our experience shows that candidates are more impressed by receiving an offer in person or by phone. They then have a chance to ask as many questions as they feel necessary to better understand a compensation package. Most of the time, the offer process encompasses a number of details, and there should always be a clear understanding. The offer should include the following:

  • Opening sentence informing the candidate how pleased the firm or company is to extend the offer of employment.
  • Compensation (annual salary and eligible bonuses)
  • Benefits
  • Deadline on acceptance of offer
  • Start date
  • Relocation allowance
  • Sign-on bonus
  • Conditions of an offer, such as passing a physical, checking references, background check on licenses and degrees.

It is not necessary, but one may include special job requirements such as frequent traveling. If there is a lengthy explanation of benefits or relocation, we recommend including the related brochures or specific details.