How to Hire Your Next Superstar: A Legal Recruitment Checklist

Poor recruitment decisions can have a major impact on your firm. This is particularly true for smaller firms, where the whole practice can be affected by a hire who isn’t performing or doesn’t fit with the firm. Here are the basics of a good selection process to help you hire your next superstar.

Know the role well and articulate what success looks like

Identify what’s required of a successful candidate in the role, as this will allow you to articulate clearly what it takes to make the role a success. Instead of advertising for a lawyer “with three years’ experience”, you may actually want candidates who can run conveyancing and general litigation files with minimum supervision. Without defining factors for success, it’s more likely that you’ll attract the wrong candidates, be swayed by less relevant factors and misrepresent the real role.

Try to put a limit on the number of factors for success – stick with your ‘must haves’. Creating a lengthy list of the attributes for the perfect candidate will limit the field.

Set up your selection process to assess the person against the success factors

Use the success factors you’ve identified when advertising the job, briefing a recruiter or speaking to staff and other stakeholders. Then create a list of open-ended questions that you can ask during an interview and address the must-have success factors. Ask candidates to demonstrate how they possess this experience or quality.

Make the interview memorable

During the interview you should refrain from interrogating candidates, but equally you should avoid ‘just having a chat’. A balance of structure and free-flowing conversation works best. Conduct yourself in a way that will make the candidate like you, respect the firm and want the job. A candidate may be unsuccessful, but you still want them to speak favourably of their interview experience.

Reference check thoroughly

Too often the reference check is overlooked or underdone. Ideally, conduct reference checks yourself rather than outsource these to a recruiter. Again, ask the reference open-ended questions that address your must-have success factors. Include some general questions like “How can I get the best out of this person?” and “Putting yourself in my shoes as the future employer, is there anything you think I need to know about this person’s conduct or performance?”

Make selection decisions using the success factors

Assess all candidates on whether they meet these success factors. If a candidate doesn’t meet the minimum requirements, they’re probably not the right person for your role, no matter how charming or how keen they are for the position.

Use the probation period to set the person up to succeed

A successful hire doesn’t end with selection. Prepare for the new employee’s arrival so that they feel positive about their first week. Importantly, this includes having work ready to get them involved from day one. Do all you can to make it work for you and your new employee so that the time you have invested in the recruitment process isn’t wasted.

By following these steps when hiring your next recruit, you’ll be in a much better position to make the right selection and gain a valuable hire who’ll help grow your legal practice.

Kriss Will founded her people management consultancy after working in HR and general management roles in law firms.  She provides management advice and conducts training & development workshops for law firms across Australia. Known as a practical advisor and an engaging presenter, Kriss draws on her day to day management experiences to offer practical solutions to people management challenges and helps businesses generate ideas to improve the ways they work.

Kriss’ completed her MBA with a focus on human resource management. She writes regularly on people management topics for a number of publications. Kriss is active within a number of professional associations including serving on a number of Law Council of Australia and Law Institute of Victoria executives and committees, as well as being a founding member of Victorian Women Lawyers Assoc, Australian Legal Practice Management Assoc and HRMinds.

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