• 02 June 2014
  • Recruitment Room

Finding the perfect candidate

I’ve compiled a few ideas on finding the perfect candidate based on my experience as a legal recruiter in the South-East. Most employers that I speak to have a fine-tuned recruitment process, but sometimes if you’re facing the same problems in finding the right people, it is worth taking a step back and reviewing your method.


To create a best in class recruitment process, it’s really important that the decision-maker gets involved in the recruitment process. If recruiting the best person for the job is important to you, setting time aside to consider your strategy will pay dividends.

Clarify what you are looking for:

Vision & Values
You will have a clear idea of your company mission and values, you may have even written them, and you will presumably be looking for someone who shares those values and who can join you in working towards company goals.

The common denominator with almost all vacancies is that a problem is caused by having an unfilled role. Whether this be because someone has left or there is an increase in the volume of work; the individual for whom you are looking will offer the solution to the problem that you have. Identifying the problems that the vacancy is causing will help to compile a list of skills and attributes that the ideal candidate will need to possess to alleviate those problems.

Replicating a great member of staff
Consider who is currently in the team who embodies the values and vision of the firm, then look at the behaviours, skills and competencies that they have, and which you would like to replicate. This, considered alongside the list of requirements created from the problem-solving exercise, will create a number of qualities upon which you (or your recruiter) can formulate a competency based interview which is tailored to the specific role.

The ways in which you may conduct a competency based interview is another subject, but to clarify very simply, these would be open questions, asking candidates to explain a time in which they have recently experienced a certain situation, which with some exploration, can allow you to uncover certain personality traits, behaviours and competencies.

Consider why the candidate would want to work at your firm

In today’s market, the tables have turned and candidates now have much more choice with the availability of vacancies, but also strong counter-offers coming from their existing employers. Therefore, firms are now in a position that they really need to pitch the opportunity to their potential candidates. It is not enough to put an advert out and expect a response.

To appeal to those tentative candidates you will need to consider the reasons why they would want to work for your firm above all others which they may be interviewing at. Firstly, in terms of the company culture and team; secondly, the role; and finally, the package on offer (both in relation to remuneration and career path). The ability to really sell the opportunity does not stop there, to appeal to the best candidates at interview stage you will also need to make them excited about the opportunity; perhaps, for instance, telling them where the company is heading, and how the candidate will be involved (even instrumental) in getting you there.

During the selection and interview process

Set a written task
Setting a written task at application/interview stage can also be a really useful tool to weed out those unsuitable candidates. The completion of a personal statement or written response to an interview question can provide a good insight into the individual. For instance, you may wish to ask about the candidate’s short- and/or long-term goals, and what their personal plan is to achieve those goals, or you may find that a technical question is more appropriate. Either way, the answers will provide insight into the intelligence, time-management skills (if a deadline is imposed), and understanding of the company vision, as well as their ability to digest information and respond to instructions. Making this part of the pre-interview process will save valuable time on interviewing candidates who do not fit the requirement.

Emotional Intelligence
During the process you may wish to ask candidates to complete a personality or reasoning test. Evaluating the emotional intelligence of your candidates with give you a good indication of how they may fit into the existing team, as well as how they may interact with clients. High levels of emotional intelligence are equally crucial for law professionals in general, although different traits would be required for those specialising in corporate law as opposed to family or private client. 

Plan a recruitment timeline

During this process, clarity on timelines is crucial. Maintaining the focus and interest of your best candidates requires a process with a reasonable tempo. Making the commitment to offer is a big decision but it is also a first touch in the employment of that individual and should be as positive an experience as possible. The offer should be an exciting one for both parties, with minimal bargaining.

This may all sound like a lot of effort, which it is, but once it has become part of the recruitment process it will become much more efficient. It is the case, however, that there is a requirement to invest some valuable fee-earning time to find the best people, and if it is done correctly the reward will be much greater.


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