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Tips for Hiring People For Your Law Firm That You Won’t Have to Fire Later

You’ve heard the old maxim: hire slowly and fire quickly. Yet, despite this so many lawyers and other business owners make bad hiring decisions that lead to problems in their business down the road. In fact, studies have shown that 80% of turnover is the result of bad hiring decisions. But how do you make better hiring decisions? What are the secrets to get in the right people for the job?

Let’s find out!

6 Biggest Hiring Mistakes for Law Firms

Fortunately, there are some common mistakes in hiring that, if you avoid them, can prevent a lot of disruption and problems down the road. Consider these mistakes before you make your next hire.

1. Hiring Too Quickly

Again, the saying is hire slowly, fire quickly. However, so many of us put off the hiring process until we need that new position filled immediately. In other words, we force ourselves into snap decisions and hire the first candidate that looks good. Take the time to lay out a hiring process and get clarity on what the job is that you’re hiring for and who the best candidate would be. Start doing this as soon as you realize you need someone.

2. Hiring on Gut Feelings

Do you interview a candidate for the position and somewhere along the line have a “gut feeling” that a particular candidate is perfect for the job? Essentially, when you do this, you are hiring someone without consciously knowing why. Again, that shows a lack of clarity as a who the perfect candidate for the job is, so that you cannot consciously recognize that person when you interview them.

3. Hiring Based on a Friend’s Recommendation

This mistake is similar to the previous one, in that it involves hiring someone without having conscious clarity as to why they are the best candidate for the job. Ask yourself: does your friend know your practice well enough, and the duties of the position you were trying to fill clearly enough to make any kind of informed recommendation? The answer is probably no. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t interview the recommended candidate, but it should never mean that you should necessarily hire them.

4. Hiring the Person that “Aced the Interview”

This is on the list because it is most often done when the hiring attorney doesn’t have a pre-prepared list of metrics with which to evaluate the candidate. In other words, how do you know they checked all the boxes when you have no clear idea what those boxes are? If, after interviewing someone, you have the impression that person “aced the interview,”
ask yourself why are you feel that way and write down as many reasons that you can think of on a memo pad. If you can’t come up with much, that should tell you something.

5. The Candidate Tested Well

You may have certain questions that you ask the candidate to test their skills in order to see whether they can handle the duties of the position. The mistake here is in thinking that someone who does well in an interview and can handle a pop quiz will be able to do that consistently over time once you hire them for the position. Although quizzes like this can help you evaluate a candidate, they should only be one part of your decision process for hiring.

6. Hiring Based on an Impressive Resume

it’s no secret that some people just look good on paper. The résumé can look strong and show experience and knowledge that would make them a good candidate for the position you’re trying to fill. However, that does not mean that they are the best fit for your practice or for you.

People also lie on resumes, or at the very least overstate their training and experience in order to look good to the interviewer. You need to probe beyond what’s on the résumé. At the very least, you should talk to some of the references and ask some pointed questions about the resumes content. It’s amazing what you can find out when you look a little closer.

Many mistakes in hiring come from simply making decisions based on enthusiasm. You really like the candidate, you got along well in the interview, and you want to hire them. Think about it this way. You are being sold by the candidate, and what they are selling is not always worth buying.

4 Secret Steps to Your Best Hires

But those are the mistakes. What is it that you can do to make sure you make better hiring decisions in the future? The answer lies in making sure that you take the time to execute on the following four steps before you even interview the first prospect.

    1. Create a Superstar Profile. Take the time to think about, and get clarity on, what skills and experience you’re looking for that are needed for the perfect person for the job. Exactly what do you want? Who would be a good fit, not only for the job itself but for your law firm culture?
    2. Create a Superstar Magnet. Once you have clarity on who your superstar candidate is, take the time to create a job listing ad that speaks directly to the person you are looking for. You want to make sure that you are attracting candidates with the right stuff, and repelling the ones without it.
    3. Create a Job Interview Scoresheet. As I said, before, you cannot truly know whether someone “aced the interview” without having the objective criteria needed to determine that. Put together an interview score sheet based on your superstar profile that will help you to evaluate each applicant objectively without having to “trust your gut.”
    4. Create the Perfect Job Interview. Armed with this scoresheet, you should map out the interview itself. Have a clear idea of what questions you are going to ask. This will help you during the interview to make sure you cover all the bases in evaluating each candidate. Think about how you can “go deep” on each question. The applicant may be well prepared with answers to the standard questions, but can fall apart once you probe further. Ask the question, then investigate further with 3 more questions. Consider asking them things like: Why do you want the job? Why do you want to be here?

The 3 Golden Questions

After you have interviewed all the candidates, go over the score sheets, and your notes to eliminate all but the perfect person for the job. In that review process, and for each candidate, you should ask the following three questions:

    1. Can they do the job?
    2. Will they do the job?
    3. Will they do the job for you?

Getting to the Right Person

By avoiding the mistakes discussed above, and taking the time to map out a solid hiring process, you will significantly increase your chances of finding the right person that you won’t have to fire later. If you have systems in place for your practice, and for your business to run it efficiently, you should also have systems in place for hiring. Taking the time now and hiring slowly will save you a great deal of time down the road.

Need Help?

Not sure that you can put this all together yourself? Don’t have the time to do it? I can help you through the process! Just click here to schedule an initial call to discuss it further and see what I can do for you!

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Steven J. Richardson

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