Back to Basics on the Recruitment Process

Back to Basics on the Recruitment Process

Want job interview tips to help you select the most qualified employees?

These tips will help you assess the skills, experience, and cultural fit of your potential employees. The job interview is a powerful factor in the employee selection process in most organisations. While it may not deserve all of the attention that it receives, the interview is still a powerful force in hiring.

The interview process remains your key tool in assessing the candidate’s cultural fit. It is also the tool you can use to get to know your candidates on a more personal basis. Bringing other from your team in later in the interview process also helps other employees get to know the candidate.

It can also aid your team in taking some responsibility and ownership of the success of the new employee when he or she joins your organisation. You can utilise these tips to help your team select superior employees.

Work with your HR Business Partners. Give them a through understanding of what talent you need.  Remember, they are not necessarily lawyers themselves, so you need to give them a really well defined role briefing – level of skill, years of experience and a good run down of the kinds of ‘soft skills’ and experience you expect of candidates. It’s a good idea to give them some a clear understanding of any role specific tasks or specialist areas you need covered.

This is also a time to review the internal talent in your team and determine where current / future skills gaps might occur. It’s a good time to look at planning for training and development for your team too. The best team builds are focussed on strategic development of internal human capital before deciding on whether or not you need to find external talent to diversify the legal team.

As a recruiter, the first thing we ask after we have taken a brief is usually – is there a PD?  Whilst we will speak with a majority of candidates and chat to them about the role, there is something more ‘real’ and concrete and organised about having a PD prepared for the role and ready to go.

From a candidate’s point of view, it can show that the role has been thought through and that there is an understanding of where the role fits in the organisation and what its responsible for.

It is important to be able to portray the day to day responsibilities, but also more strategically, what a pathway or career progression might look like for the ideal candidate.  What kind of characteristics are important to the organisation in a cultural sense – these soft skills are often more important in building a high performing team than their academics or legal knowledge!

Secondly, you need to decide on what the interview process will look like.  It should be a standardised for all candidates and there should be a set number of interviews. They don’t need to meet everyone on the team – but a few key people may help you in getting a fuller, more independent take on each candidate.

Lastly, whilst it’s nice to maintain a relaxed kind of interview process, there should requisite questions and a process in place so as to be able to benchmark candidates.  If you don’t, you may find you have asked each candidate different questions and your ability to make judgement on a particular skill or requirement is impaired.  In this manner, you’ll also avoid any leaning towards unconcious bias (which we’ll give you some tips on later).




Your starting point, before scheduling a job interview with a candidate, is to review each candidate’s cover letter and resume.

When faced with 30+ candidates, it’s important to use tools that separate the great candidates from the many. These will help you select the candidates for the job interview. They will also help you prepare your list of questions to use to telephone screen candidates and ask during interviews.

Resume Parsers are widely used these days in internal recruitment teams or database searches, and can be quite effective as a starting point if you consider some roles may get upwards of 100 applications. Here’s a quick run down if you’re not familiar with the technology, here. 


Think about the keywords and minimum qualifications and use them as a starting point.  We found some great tips online here, Resume Screening Tips

The telephone interview or candidate phone screen allows the employer to determine if the candidate’s qualifications, experience, workplace preferences and salary needs are congruent with the position and your organisation.

The telephone interview saves employee time and eliminates unlikely candidates. While you will want to develop a customised job interview with customised questions for each position, this generic job interview advice will guide you.

As a guide, you can spend 20-30 minutes chatting to someone to get an idea of whether or not you want to learn more about them.  Some of the kinds of questions we might ask, would be:

  • What is your reason for exploring newopportunities?
  • What other jobs have you applied for or been attracted to?
  • Describe your ideal role
  • Describe your ideal culture / working environment
  • What responsibilities you would like to have in addition to your current role?
  • What parts of your job do you think you do particularly well?
  • What frustrates you about your current role?
  • What appeals to you about this role? What makes you a strong candidate?

Remember, there are some question you cannot ask!

An interview should focus on soft skills required – communication, leadership, motivation, creative thinking, emotional intelligence and active listening. These ‘soft’ skills go hand in hand with the technical requirements of the role.


The main enemy of the interview process is unconscious bias. There’s a great article here, which outlines it in detail with some good examples. Suffice to say, humans generally will often hire people they ‘like’ or who are like them and build a team of similar people around them, which is not the environment in which high performing teams thrive.

To test your own unconscious bias, you can take any of the Harvard Implicit Association Tests available online.

Remember to steer clear of the following subjects:

  • Age
  • Disability/impairment (physical and mental)
  • Family/carer’s responsibilities
  • Sexual orientation and relationship status
  • Political beliefs, union or employer-association membership
  • Pregnancy, Parental and/or carer status