Employment Interview Tips

Hiring people is hard. No matter how good a prospect may look during an interview, your chances of hiring a dud are always going to be high.

Nor does it help that job-seekers are often fully prepared for the hiring process, and not fully prepared for the actual job. It’s a lot like horse racing: A colt may look great in the morning workouts, but you don’t know if you’ve got a winner until he gets into a race.

It also doesn’t help that recent graduates are constantly being prepped. The Louisiana State Bar, for example, last week for some reason tweeted out a link to an article on the five questions most likely to be asked at a job interview and the best answers to those questions.

OK, I understand the bar association probably thought it was being helpful to unemployed lawyers but how does that help law firms? Employers have an interest in this process too. Why should they be stuck with new associates who got the answers to the quiz in advance?

Fortunately, the advice for applicants is in full view on the internet, so that means employers can read it too – and then swerve. Don’t ask the five questions most likely to be asked at a job interview. Come up with creative challenges for your applicants to see if they can handle the pressure and think on their butts (since I’m assuming they’ll be sitting during the interview).

Some examples:

On an excruciatingly boring day on the job, what strategy will you use to get out of the office quickly? This question serves several purposes. First, it will tell you whether the applicant is paying attention. If his or her first reaction is “What?” that’s a bad sign.

If the applicant says he/she can’t imagine a boring day in your office, you’ve got a brown-noser. That’s not bad if you like that sort of employee, but you may not get much original thought.

The best answers, of course, will be the ones that seriously address and solve the issue. “Hit the fire alarm” would be a terrific answer.

If my spouse propositions you, how would you respond? If the candidate immediately walks out of the room, you may want to have an associate run to get him or her back. That’s probably a reliable potential employee. When he or she comes back, pretend to be insulted that the candidate assumed your spouse was repulsive. Then share a good laugh.

If the candidate, however, pontificates at length about morality or office tensions, you’ve probably got someone who will cause office tensions.

Perry Mason or Matlock – choose and discuss. This will tell you a lot about a candidate’s personal style and whether they’re as young as they claim. If they’ve never heard of either one, give them a choice between Gloria Allred and Rudy Giuliani. You’re going to want to hire candidates who refuse to pick either one.

What salary should I be paid? Again, you’ll be testing whether the candidate is paying attention. If he/she thinks you asked what they should be paid, they weren’t listening. Good lawyers are supposed to pay attention.

If a candidate can accurately guess your salary, you may have someone who can conduct settlement negotiations or knows how to do background research. Those are good things.

When designing the architecture for a comprehensive data collection and cost/benefit program, how would you mitigate environmental impacts of computing power necessary to maintain full capacity for analytical processes? If your candidate can answer this question, he/she is at the wrong interview.

Can you guess my name? Hire anyone who answers, “Rumpelstiltskin.” They have their wits about them.

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