Interview Guide for Employers

We recommend that interviews be conducted within a week or two of the candidate’ CV being received.

The first interview should be conducted by the key hiring decision maker, usually a Partner/s or for in-house roles a General Counsel/Legal Manager with attendance by a member of HR is recommended. For initial interviews with legal candidates, best results are achieved through the inclusion of a legally experienced interviewer to assist in formulating questions and understanding the candidates answers and interpreting any legalese. It is also best not to overwhelm the candidate with too many stakeholders/interviewers at first interview. One or two attendees from the employer plus a member of HR should be enough. Sometimes a junior peer level legal team member or Senior Associate will be brought in for first interview, however we recommend that this occur at a second or third meeting/interview stage in an informal setting.

Interviews should run for between 45 – 60 minutes and be used to discuss the role, the candidate’s experience, the employer organisation and opportunities that the role presents both immediately and into the future. The interview should be conducted as a semi-informal, yet professional discussion allowing the parties to build rapport, learn more about each other and assess suitability in terms of cultural, experience and motivational fit. Try and ensure any behavioural style interview questions are formulated with reference or contextualisation to the candidates actual experience. You will get more value from these responses. You should also take the opportunity to ‘sell’ the role and your organisation by listing all the benefits and strengths of the role. The employer market for quality candidates is very competitive and the better the candidate, the more suitors they will have, hence the need not to rest on your laurels.

Normal candidate expectation is that interviews will run for thirty minutes or more, particularly the first or second interview. Any less than this runs the risk of the candidate assuming they were not right for the role, or that you as the employer organisation are not interested in them personally or professionally. If the interview is cut short, or is only for a limited time and you, as the employer remain interested in the candidate as a potential employee, you need to reconfirm your interest to the candidate at the conclusion of the (short) interview, not at a later stage.

By way of process, a series of anywhere between one to four interviews are recommended, with two to three being normal industry standard followed by a references and an offer, or conditional offer subject to references. Ensure all stakeholders are involved at some stage. For junior roles, making a peer level team member available for an informal coffee offsite at a final stage is highly recommended and will allow the candidate (and you) the opportunity to assess cultural fit in an informal non-hierarchical environment and give the candidate comfort around any offer and the culture of the team they maybe are about to join. Multiple interviews should be run concurrently as possible over a period of two or three weeks and quicker if necessary to secure candidates where there is competing employer market interest. The better the candidate, the quicker they are likely to be offered other roles and in our experience a quick emphatic decision to offer a role to a candidate is more likely to be accepted rather than a long drawn out process where candidates can infer employer uncertainty and draw negative conclusions from this.