Interviewing applicants for law firm jobs is tough. You really have to sit and listen hard to the answers and questions of applicants. You have to attempt to read between the lines to get to the heart of an employee.
What are they looking for in a job experience Why do they want to work for your firm? What type of work environment do they desire? These are important questions that you want to get to the bottom of in the interview process.
One answer that should raise a red flag is applicants who reference the social aspects of the job. They might reference that they are hoping that the work environment is one where people get together outside of work. They might reference various firm networking events they might like to see. They might reference wanting to go to happy hours, sporting events and other activities together. They might reference wanting to make friends and social contacts within the firm. They might reference a job environment that is “fun.”
On the surface, these answers might not seem problematic. The problem is the answers do not focus on performing quality legal work. They do not focus on helping law firm clients during their time of need. They do not focus on wanting to help the firm be more successful.
In the end, the applicants you want are focused on the job at hand. Sure, they might have a secondary desire to meet others, make some contacts and perhaps form some friendships. But all of this should be back-burnered behind performing excellent legal and/or administrative work.
Talking about social events, happy hours and outside engagements should not be the type of answers an applicant gives to answers as to why they are hoping to be hired. Their focus is not on what a law firm should be looking for in an applicant.
Otherwise, you are likely to end up with an employee who is very social engaged in the law firm. They might like to meet and banter with other employees. They might form great bonds with other co-workers. They might assume the role of a figurative office jester. But the legal work itself is likely to take a back seat. Cliques and factions can form. The relationship with management can also take a backseat.
These employees often form a strong allegiance with other co-workers at these social events to the extent that they can be a distraction to work. In other words, these employees are likely sending e-mails, texting, snap chatting and starting conversations during the workday about where folks are meeting up outside of work. All of this distracts from the important tasks of a law firm.
You also might end up with employees who are so socially engaged to the extent that they make happy hours and social engagements their priority. They actually come to work for these activities and social contact versus the job itself.
When you are hiring new law firm employees, you want employees who know it is a job. They are coming to work with the primary focus of doing a fantastic job.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.