The legal profession has a reputation for being too numbers driven: academic grade point average, rankings, billable hours, etc. After a certain point, the numbers alone do not make a difference if you cannot harness that achievement constructively.
Here are three tips to keep in mind as you build your team:
Don’t just hire “yourself.”
Most people simply hire a version of themselves and connect with people who mirror their values, interests, and strengths. When putting a team together and considering a candidate, first evaluate the strengths and weaknesses that is currently present on your team. Then evaluate what the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses are, and make a conscious effort to look for candidates that fill your needs.
An eye to overlook your implicit biases doesn’t just happen organically — a deliberate effort must be made, and part of that deliberate effort should be an attempt to ask every candidate a set of the same questions. Although every interaction will be different, a set of the same questions will allow you to evaluate the social and interpersonal skills (things the numbers don’t always show) of one candidate against another. Look for a candidate who understands themselves, able to read a situation, and quickly adapt behaviors to any given situation.
Connect on a personal level.
Try not to focus solely on a candidate’s job history. The information is already on a resume and it is something a quick phone call can verify. Additionally, that’s the part of an interview that the candidate is most likely to have well rehearsed. Instead of focusing on their history, take this opportunity to get to know candidates as people. Ask them about their hobbies, childhood, or passions. See what gets them excited — hear how they respond to a different opinion. Hearing a person honestly discuss these things tend to help you really get a sense of whether they will fit in the team.
Great qualities to observe when a candidate describes something they are passionate about include humor, humility, and resilience. Think about other qualities that are important to you and design questions that give candidates an opportunity to share.
Bring in an expert.
The hiring process requires an extensive amount of time and investment. Working with a professional recruiter brings valuable access to talent and experience at finding and vetting the best candidates.
When deciding to work with a recruiter, remember that your objective is to hire someone who will be an asset to your team. The more you share about what you are looking for to the recruiter, the better chance they have of finding it. No matter how great your HR team is, nothing substitutes actually speaking with the hiring manager and at least some of the members of the team with whom the new hire will be working. Key decision-makers should also be in on this process from the beginning. The more visibility you give the recruiter into your team’s culture and style, the better the candidates will be.
Similarly, share as much detail as possible about what this new hire will do and your expectations for them to your recruiter. Your recruiter will then help you translate that into an description that will attract the best candidates.
Remember that good candidates have options and might even be used to being courted a little. If you like a particular candidate, move as quickly as possible. Delays in the recruiting process lead to candidates withdrawing for want of another opportunity or possibly being offended by the lack of enthusiasm.
Take heed to these tips and you will be on your way building a great team.