The reality is that in any law firm, job openings are going to arise periodically. Whether an employee leaves to take a job elsewhere, or your law firm decides that a particular employee is not a good fit, job openings are going to happen.
When you look at job data, employees do not tend to stay at jobs that long these days. Those aged 25 – 32 for example only stay at a job for three years on average. For those 20 – 24, the data shows that employees generally only stay at a job for 16 months.
Many are surprised when they hear these numbers. But it is just reality. It is rare for folks to stay at their first full-time forever or even a long time. Most jump from job to job to some degree looking for greener pastures, especially early in their careers as they decide what they are looking for in a career or a job.
Nonetheless, when a position opens up in your law firm, it is important to fill these spots in an orderly and expeditious manner. It is also important to make the best possible hire. Additionally, letting the applicants know who were interviewed that they were not the ones selected in a reasonable time is also a courteous and important thing to do.
One way to accomplish all of this is to interview for an open position on one day. In other words, set all the first-round interviews for an open position on the same day. Depending on the position, and the time needed to interview the candidates, interviews can be spaced an hour or a half-hour apart back to back.
Then, after the first round interviews have taken place, set all the final round interviews on one day as well. Hopefully, you have narrowed the field down to two or three potential candidates for one open spot.
After the final round is completed, an offer can be made to the best candidate. If they accept, the other applicants interviewed can then be informed quickly that they did not get the position. This way, they are not waiting around or potentially turning away other job opportunities that might be out there.
What some law firms are tempted to do, however, is really extend out the first and second rounds. For example, instead of having the first and second-round interviews on the same day, the first round might last a week or more because candidates are met on different days and times over a long period of time. This can often happen because the candidates are not asked to come in on the same day, but the law firm instead caters to the interview time and date requests of the applicants.
When this happens, the hiring process can be extremely prolonged. This means that the open position your firm has cannot be filled expeditiously. This might mean that the needs of the clients will not be met while the position remains open.
Further, when interviews are spread out on different days, it can be hard to compare the candidates. Comparisons can often be better evaluated when the interviews are back-to-back and the interviews are fresh on the evaluators’ minds. Finally, when interviews do not take place on the same day, applicants are all left waiting for a substantially longer period of time versus when all the interviews are on the same day.
It is true as well that if the interviewers also practice law, that it can be hard to do interviews over an extended period because it serves as a daily distraction from the legal work that must get done over an extended time. However, most lawyers can set aside a couple of days to do interviews for important law firm positions — and then get back to the legal work and other important tasks that also need attention.
Some might ask what you do when an applicant cannot come in on the designated day due to scheduling conflicts they have? This can be a real problem. However, if the law firm explains the importance of coming in on a particular day (for the reasons above), most applicants who really want the job will clear their schedule and come. If they cannot, most of the time it is better to simply consider the applicant for future positions instead of holding up the hiring process for one candidate.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.