Mixed grill

Law firm interviews just go on and on, these days

It is a stereotype universally acknowledged that lawyers can be a little lacking in the personality department, so it is bemusing to learn that ultra-cautious senior partners are conducting personality tests on potential hires in the pub.

Yet, shock horror, candidates who believed they had the job in the bag are being rejected after going for a drink with their potential employer.

So prevalent is the trend that David Crollick of recruiter Noble Legal is advising candidates not to drop their guard until they are through the door on their first day.

Previously, post-interview drinks were seen as a formality, but Crollick says he has heard of firms taking two or three associates out to be scrutinised by their peers.

“This is now part of the interview process,” says Crollick. “They may not be alone in reaching that stage, which was previously the assumption.”

Candidates may have a glittering CV and sail through a three-stage interview, but partners want to know if this is someone they want to spend their working days with.

While no details are available on the personalities of those carrying out the tests, their verdicts in some cases have been damning.

“Partners have rejected candidates because their personality is dull, uninspiring, too back-room or not charismatic,” says Crollick. “It’s a tough balance so we tell our clients to be personable, yet realise they are still on show.”

For magic circle, silver circle and international firms, the pre-2008 ‘bums on seats’ approach to hiring has given way to a buyers’ market in which firms pick and choose.
“If you can’t talk the talk at the final stage you won’t be hired,” adds Crollick. “But good candidates will still get the jobs.”

Guy Adams, director at legal recruiter Laurence Simons, believes these tests are rare, but agrees the hiring process has become longer, with cautious firms throwing in legal drafting or numerical reasoning tests.

“Most firms are [looking for] an outstanding candidate and if they are not 100 per cent sure they’ll pull out,” says Adams.

Quite what happens if candidates find their drinks dates dull and uninspiring is not clear, but The Lawyer suspects they’ll take the job anyway. There’s dedication.