With Google providing a never-ending supply of resource to interviewees, for managers and HR professionals it is becoming increasingly difficult to get to know the candidate and not a pre-rehearsed, LinkedIn-approved version, particularly so if the standard competency-based questions are asked.
To get an insight into the candidate, it’s important to ask the right questions. Below we’ve outlined several key questions that will cut through the jargon and let you learn about the person you’re talking to.
“Talk me through your processes for…”
Asking for a detailed approach to a specific process allows you to learn about your candidate’s thought process and how they approach tasks and consider their impact. It will also give you a good indication of how they will work in your current team set up. “It’s really important to understand how someone operates, especially if they’re in a support role, such as a legal secretary,” Matthew Heard, our Legal Support Consultant, advises. “If they have three partners all needing support, it’s good to know about they would tackle difficult tasks or prioritise workloads.”
“What’s the most niche or complicated thing you know about? Can you summarise it into an elevator pitch?”
Most candidates’ minds will go to a work-related topic, and that’s great if you’re a specialist firm looking to recruit a solicitor for a dedicated sector, but you may also learn a lot about a potential employee’s communication skills and style, their passion for their subject topic and their character. Alison Banks, our Senior Legal Consultant, says, “I specialise in family law and this question really helps me understand a candidate’s knowledge and if they have the experience and technical expertise needed for the role I’m recruiting for.”
“What have you learned about yourself from your previous roles?”
This question gives some of the power back to the interviewee, and in a way will make them feel more comfortable, but it will give you a great insight into how the candidate operates, and their style of working; whether that be that they enjoy autonomy or working as part of a wider team, whether they prefer rigid schedules or if they excel when given less than clear instructions. It is also a good time to take stock of their body language and facial expressions when asked this question, it’s unlikely to be one they were expecting.
“Can you see how you would develop this role?”
More often than not, candidates will arrive at the interview with pre-prepared questions to ask you relating to the firm or the job they’ve applied for, so with this question, you put the emphasis back on them – what do they want from their role with you, where they see themselves developing in your firm and how they will evolve the role. It shows you what sort of career path the interviewee is looking to take, whether they have considered how long they plan to stay with the firm and where they see themselves. From this information, you can start to forecast where this person will fit in the long term for your business. “This question really can be the deciding factor between candidates,” Francesca Butcher, Legal Consultant, muses. “Ideally, depending on your job specification, you want someone who will grow with the role. This is the candidate’s opportunity to show their suitability to the role and your firm.”
There are many questions to ask a candidate that may not be in the standard set of interview rules, but by using this line of questioning you are more likely to get an authentic, truthful and insightful response from the person you’re interviewing, and with that understanding, you will be able to find the right fit for your role.