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Interviewing Tips - the Other Side of the Table

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by odoreater, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. odoreater

    odoreater Senior member

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    I'm set to interview a guy who is looking for a job with my firm. This will be the first candidate I have ever interviewed. So, from those of you who have interviewed others, what interviewing tips would you give? What kinds of things do you look for in a candidate and what kinds of things do you tend to overlook?

    EDIT: I meant to say "tips" in the title, not "tios." If a moderator wants to fix it - cool, if not, not big deal.
     


  2. Piobaire

    Piobaire Not left of center?

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    Does the person show up on time? Reasonably dressed? Has the person researched your company and knows what it is all about? Are they well groomed? Stink? Give them a situational question, something of an emergency or crisis nature, and see if at least part of the answer is they grab their bootstrapes, pull up, and pitch in.

    As them directly what their career plans are and how long they plan to stay at your place.
     


  3. Ambulance Chaser

    Ambulance Chaser Senior member

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    When I was a law firm associate interviewing applicants, I was always interested in knowing why they chose to apply to this particular firm rather than Firm X or Firm Y.
     


  4. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    don't be the only person to interveiw the candidate, as good as you may be, have a second opinion.

    depending on how high the job is up the food chain, take him to lunch, try to see him in as many situations as possibe.

    ask him about what he liked and didn't like about different jobs, why he left.

    ask him questions that will make him show you his thought process
     


  5. odoreater

    odoreater Senior member

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    Good suggestions. Another thing is that if t his guy gets hired he will be working in my group so I will probably have to work with him. That's a consideration.
     


  6. EL72

    EL72 Senior member

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    If he's wearing a pocket square, tell him to go home and never come back [​IMG]
     


  7. Piobaire

    Piobaire Not left of center?

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    Oh, ask him to talk about his worst boss ever. First, he should not fall for that sucker question, most certainly as I assume it's another liar...er, lawyer, so he should not be falling for verbal traps. Second, if he's dumb enough to fall for it, make damn sure you or whoever he will be answering to does not fit the bill of the bad boss he's describing (that's why it's a question you should never answer!). A good answer will be along the lines of, "You know, maybe I am just lucky, but I have never had a really bad boss. Some have been better than others, but I have always learned something from each of my prior bosses that I still find valuable today."
     


  8. odoreater

    odoreater Senior member

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    If he's wearing a pocket square, tell him to go home and never come back [​IMG]

    To be honest, if he comes in wearing a pocket square, the initial impression will probably be a negative one. This impression would probably be very easy to overcome, but that's how it would start nonetheless.
     


  9. gdl203

    gdl203 Affiliate Vendor Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    In my mind, there's three groups of questions:

    1. Questions to test the hard skills required on the job (for that, the best method is to ask basic questions that everyone knows the answer to and then drill down one level at a time to see if the candidate has a deeper understanding and can think out loud and be quick on his feet)

    2. Questions to test how his/her personality would fit with your firm/group (is it someone you can see yourself working with? what about late nights or weekends? does he fit the "culture" of the place?)

    3. Questions to test his/her motivation for this job (the best questions for that are the ones that test his understanding of your firm/group and how it differs from others, some recent news or high-profile cases, etc... Sounding motivated is easy and some people are good at acting the role but ultimately the best evidence is someone who has done extensive research on your firm)


    One important tip: take notes of everything you notice (non-verbal cues, wrong answers, great answers...)
     


  10. sho'nuff

    sho'nuff grrrrrrrr!!

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    i remember one IT manager who had the strategy of interviewing candidates not by asking questions (well, he did in the beginning a few perfunctory ones)

    but he would talk about current projects and situations that he and his coworkers are involved in.
    what tools they are using, what troubleshooting methods they are doing, what software they are testing, what scripts they are writing, etc.. (whatever is relevant to the candidate's open position) and would allow the candidate to interact with him, join in on the conversation..

    and he will gauge how experienced or knowledgeable the candidate is by how he would interact.

    "oh yeah, yes, i used that software before, best thing to do is this and that, etc"
    " pretty much the sequence i would have implemented, blah blah blah"
    " yes, those tools are very cool, i read about the latest updates on those, blah blah"

    if the candidate is very interactive and shows alot of enthusiasm and like the types of responses above, the manager likes him alot.

    many times the candidate, will sit and listen with a glaze over his eyes, like not knowing anything that the IT manager was saying, or having heard of those things but not really experienced in them, and if he sits there responding just
    "...yeah..."
    "...cool..."
    "...wow..."

    the manager would sense he may not be as what his resume says.

    i dont know, i thought that was a great way to peer into a candidate's skills/knowledge AND his ability to integrate into a new culture without sticking out like a sore thumb.
     


  11. MetroStyles

    MetroStyles Senior member

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    Please do not ass trivial and trite questions such as:

    -Tell me about the worst boss you worked for.
    -Tell me about a time you had to deal with adversity in a group dynamic.
    -Tell me about a time you displayed leadership skills.

    Those kind of questions make me THROW UP!!!! Interviewers need to learn - people study answers to this crap. They have canned responses. Why reward the person with the best canned lie??

    I would just try to have a conversation based on their resume. You are looking for three things in a co-worker (at least I would be):

    1) Mental ability to handle the job
    2) Ability to appear professional
    3) Likability

    (1) is the most important as it usually dictates whether or not they will be successful. Look at their resume and ask them to talk about certain projects that you feel relate to the job, if any.

    (2) will be obvious from the interaction.

    (3) is important and only comes out when you let them get into a natural conversation with you rather than a one-sided interview.

    I think consulting does it best with the combination of fit and case interviews. One gets a feel for personality, the other holds you to the flames and tests if you got it or you don't.

    Just please please please no stupid trite questions.
     


  12. Renault78law

    Renault78law Senior member

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    When I was a law firm associate interviewing applicants, I was always interested in knowing why they chose to apply to this particular firm rather than Firm X or Firm Y.

    I'm never really interested in the answer to this, because the reality is that most candidates are interviewing all over the place and would only decide where to accept after balancing all of their options. However, I still ask the question, just to see if they are prepared and to otherwise get them talking. Interviewing is a game. They need to be able to answer stupid questions and convey that they are interested in the law and eager to work for my firm. If they take the time to properly prepare for the interview, it suggests that they'll take the same care in their work. Besides their writing sample, you can't really gauge their work-product...and the writing sample might not be the best indicator anyway. If their resume indicates that they're capable, I tend to ask questions related to interests outside of work. This generally comports with most firms' culture anyway - we're looking for balanced individuals. This may not be the case at sweatshop type firms. Above all, I am honest about the working environment so that the applicant knows what he is getting into. Be prepared to disclose how much you work, your hours, whether associates are fun/social, etc.
     


  13. Piobaire

    Piobaire Not left of center?

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    Please do not ass trivial and trite questions such as:

    -Tell me about the worst boss you worked for.
    -Tell me about a time you had to deal with adversity in a group dynamic.
    -Tell me about a time you displayed leadership skills.

    Those kind of questions make me THROW UP!!!! Interviewers need to learn - people study answers to this crap. They have canned responses. Why reward the person with the best canned lie??


    Because often in life, this is what wins. The person that has the best verbal response in many situations is seen as the winner, the leader, etc. Have you not ever had the actual knowledge to answer something correctly but for some reason, the answer did not come to mind? And we're talking a position at a law firm. Nope, the person that cannot verbalize the best answer never wins there, right?

    The world is full of trite questions. If you cannot handle them, you are a loser, stop the interview right there. Answering trite questions is just like good appearance, which you mention. It is not necessarily part of the job per se, but is so important, you cannot ignore it.

    That said, interviewing is 50% chemistry, 50% justification.
     


  14. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    Because often in life, this is what wins. The person that has the best verbal response in many situations is seen as the winner, the leader, etc. Have you not ever had the actual knowledge to answer something correctly but for some reason, the answer did not come to mind? And we're talking a position at a law firm. Nope, the person that cannot verbalize the best answer never wins there, right?

    The world is full of trite questions. If you cannot handle them, you are a loser, stop the interview right there. Answering trite questions is just like good appearance, which you mention. It is not necessarily part of the job per se, but is so important, you cannot ignore it.

    That said, interviewing is 50% chemistry, 50% justification.


    In my time in Biglaw I did a few dozen interviews. I stopped using trite stock questions around the time I hit mid-level status and started supervising the people who came through. I stopped not only because most candidates have ready answers for them, but because their ability to come up with snap verbalization had nothing to do with what would make them good associates. At least at my old firm, junior associates do not speak in court and do not address clients. They work on document review, research projects, and minimal drafting. They will never have their verbal skills called upon until they have been given a seal of approval by the partner responsible for a given matter. Thus, my concern was with finding out whether an interviewee was a complete tool who would be a pain in the ass to have in a conference room with a team of other associates doing 50-60 hours per week of document review. I would do just a bit of questioning on legal hypotheticals to see if they could issue spot, so that I would be able to weed people with glaringly suspect reasoning abilities that would get my ass in a sling if I failed to carefully citecheck their research product.

    So I was not looking for the best verbalization. I was looking for the candidates who were the most pleasant to deal with, and were not obvious idiots who nevertheless made it past the academic criteria screening. You'll probably find many mid-level and senior associates use the same method.
     


  15. MetroStyles

    MetroStyles Senior member

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    Because often in life, this is what wins. The person that has the best verbal response in many situations is seen as the winner, the leader, etc. Have you not ever had the actual knowledge to answer something correctly but for some reason, the answer did not come to mind? And we're talking a position at a law firm. Nope, the person that cannot verbalize the best answer never wins there, right?

    The world is full of trite questions. If you cannot handle them, you are a loser, stop the interview right there. Answering trite questions is just like good appearance, which you mention. It is not necessarily part of the job per se, but is so important, you cannot ignore it.

    That said, interviewing is 50% chemistry, 50% justification.


    Different strokes for different folks. These types of interviews are so easy that I sleepwalk through them. When I am challenged with questions and conversation I do not expect is when I actually gain respect for a company and their offer.
     


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