Final Round of Interview Process Should Not Be a Coronation

Law firm hiring process and coronationFinding the best talent available for a law firm is a vitally important task. The quality of the individuals hired makes a huge difference for the clients that hire your law firm. It also makes a difference within your law firm for the morale of other employees.

To hire the best talent available, a process must be followed to fill any open position. The process typically involves first posting the job in appropriate places. The first round of interviews then takes place after the law firm reviews the resumes. For any open position, the more candidates the law firm meets, the better. But at a minimum, a  firm should attempt to meet at least five individuals for any open position. The more candidates they meet, the better the chance that a good hire is made. If the law firm meets less than five candidates for a single position, the prospect of making a good hire drops dramatically.

After the first round of interviews, the law firm needs to check references and perform background checks. After the reference and background checks, and after pondering the interviews, the law firm will generally need to hone in on the best two or three candidates. The best two or three candidates should then be set for a final round interview.

How should the final round interview process look?

Ultimately, the final round interview in any hiring process should provide the law firm with some choices. In terms of the candidates, it should be a competition for the position. For this reason, having two or three candidates in the final round is a necessity. In some instances, there might only be two good candidates left. In other instances, maybe three or four candidates might still be in the running for the position. If that is the case, all three or four can be in the final round.

But at a bare minimum, the final round of the interview process almost always has to entail a minimum of two candidates. Both candidates need to be qualified and hirable based on their application, first round interview, and the reference and background check.

With at least two candidates in the final round, the law firm is given a choice. The firm can then see how each candidate performs and answers relevant questions in the final interview before making a decision. Often, it makes sense to have lots of law firm members in on the decision-making process. With the ease of video and audio technology, getting consent to record the final round of interviews can make sense if not all in the decision-making process can be present in-person. The video or audio can be disseminated to those in the law firm taking part in the hiring decision for their review.

Mistakes leading up to the final round

One mistake some law firms can make is only having one candidate in the final round interview process. In other words, they do not have multiple options in the final round. It might be that the first round of interviews did not entail meeting five or more candidates. The pool was much smaller and many candidates were excluded along the way for various reasons. In some cases, the law firm might have keyed in on one or two people from the start because there was a shortage of resumes or maybe somebody looked fantastic on paper. Perhaps one of the candidates was a referral from another employee of the firm and, thus, the law firm was predisposed to hire this candidate from the start

When there is only one candidate in the final round of interviews, it essentially turns into a coronation. In other words, since there are no other candidates in the final round, the law firm either has to hire the only person in the final-round or make no hire whatsoever.

When this happens, law firms often make the hire because they have to fill the position. After all, they may not have the time or energy to begin the interview process again. But, oftentimes, the only candidate in the final round is not really a good fit for the position. When somebody hired is not a good fit, it leads to turnover, bad morale, or unhappy clients. Further, sometimes the one candidate in the final round does not even accept the position.

The final round of interviews should involve multiple choices.

To make better hires, law firms need choices. To ensure there is a choice and not a coronation, there has to be a minimum of two candidates in the final round. If there are not two candidates in the final round, the law firm should go back and look through their resume bank. Is there somebody else who fell through the cracks for some reason? Is the job posting boosted appropriately on job sites? Has the law firm engaged in active recruiting for the position? If this has not happened, the firm must think about taking those actions immediately so that the final round involves a choice and not a coronation. Without at least two candidates, the decision will be to either hire the lone candidate or make no hire at all.

Many candidates can also sense when the law firm has met multiple candidates or whether the firm is singularly focusing on them.  When a law firm is only focusing on one candidate, the negotiations on salary can become tougher.

In the end, having choices allows the law firm to look thoroughly at the candidates. When thoroughly looking at candidates versus just pushing one candidate through, better hires are often made. Any law firm that is hiring should want to make good hires versus prematurely coronating a single candidate.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.


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