The First Five Minutes
We all know that first impressions count. Duh. In the hiring arena, I think you can narrow this down to the first 5 minutes of exposure to a candidate to tell if they would be a good fit for your organization. This includes in-person, Skype, phone and even email exchanges in connection with a job interview. Before you get to this point, you have excluded those who do not look good on paper (i.e., through their resume or, bizarrely, the lack of a resume or any kind of background information). Now, the issues become:
- Whether the applicant’s personality will jive with you as the one making the hiring decision and your team in general;
- Whether they have the right drive or desire to advance the law firm; and
- Whether they are right for the firm culture in general.
People, whether intentionally or not, seem to give away the farm on themselves quite quickly. When we started expanding our firm, I met with or at least talked with almost everyone who expressed interest in joining our team. This was time consuming, but it really helped me learn how to interview job applicants and identify talent. With our non-traditional model, often it was obvious to both participants in the interview that it did not make sense to go further with the process. Sometimes I had to lead them down that path…such as the lawyer who started the conversation with why he/she was horrible at client service and was struggling after 2 decades of practice and need a change of scenery (oh, and sweated all over my office furniture to the point where I had to disinfect the chair).
The key, I guess, is to know the role you are looking to fill in your firm. That will help set the parameters in your mind for the discussion. This 5-minute gut check does not mean that you are looking for some cookie cutter candidate. It might also mean that the person would be a good fit because they are NOT like the rest of your team. The candidate could help stir up a situation to move the organization forward. Or, they are needed to help bring balance to the force where a gap in talent exists. If you get a negative feeling in the those first 5 minutes, that does not mean you cut off the conversation. It just seems to me that it is a good indicator of the final result.
I am sure there will always be some that sneak past this arbitrary 5-minute concept. I am sure you can find twenty HR blogs that contradict this post. With the next few people you interview, see if this has any bearing. Doesn’t the comment section below exist to explain why the writer is wrong? Feel free to use it.