Well, my search for a trainee is finally over (a couple of weeks ago, actually, but I had other things to write about). Seems like a good opportunity to follow my pieces on applications with some stuff about interviewing.
The good news is that there were no real interview fails to go with the application fails. In fact, it was rather enjoyable to talk to so many excellent candidates – it’s a shame that I could only offer one training contract.
A choice had to be made, of course. And the odd thing is that in the end, despite the high quality of the candidates, the choice was fairly easy to make.
Our process was relatively informal – there was no assessment day, and therefore no role play or teamworking exercises. Many law firms, especially at the corporate end of the market, will have much more intensive selection processes.
But it still felt quite intensive to us. First of all, one of my colleagues did telephone interviews with a longlist of about 15 candidates, over two days. At that stage we also asked candidates to do an untimed research and writing exercise.
We then selected four candidates from the longlist for a face to face interview. Each of these interviews was about two hours, using a mix of personal, behavioural and technical questions.
The results were remarkably consistent across each of the stages. The candidates who made the best applications generally did the best telephone interviews, and were best at the written exercise (there was one exception at the latter stage).
And there was one candidate who was clearly in front at each stage. It’s a funny thing about interviewing (in my experience, anyway) – you think it’s going to be a really hard choice, but then a candidate shows up that just has something extra and it turns out that it’s not that hard after all.
It’s a bit hard to tie down what that ‘something extra’ is. Sometimes it’s about how a candidate engages with technical questions, as a conversation rather an exam. Or maybe it’s that you can imagine them in the role.
I’m not going to go into exactly what that was on this occasion (I don’t want her getting too big a head before she starts, after all). But in my next post I’ll give some general thoughts about how to impress at interview.
And who is the lucky candidate that gets to spend the next two years under the Bizzle’s thumb? Well, with a bit of luck I’ll be presenting an extra-special guest post in the near future…