What Is the Hiring Process Like for Law Firms?
Going through law school is a laborious experience. One that closely resembles the selection process for law firms. Law firms employ an array of tools to evaluate candidates. From psychometric tests to interactive exercises, candidates should prepare for an in-depth process focused on practical and cognitive intelligence.
The hiring process for law firms can take anywhere from four to eight weeks. Job seekers can expect the four following stages during the selection process for law firms.
Law Application Process
The application is the candidate’s first chance to make a good impression on the firm. The form will ask for experience, education and other qualifications. Some firms also ask that a tailored CV and cover letter be included alongside the application form.
The application form may also ask some questions about the applicant’s possible future with the firm. Common questions on the application form include “Are you willing to work long hours?” or “Are you willing to travel?”.
The assessments are one of the most important parts of the selection process. Firms utilize these assessments because they measure the applicant’s raw cognitive and behavioral skills. The results will inform the firm if the applicant has the aptitude to execute tasks associated with the job professionally and efficiently.
These assessments are sent to the applicant via email with the request that they are completed within five days, however, the sooner the better. Some assessments may have to be taken again in person to verify the results. During this stage, only about one-fourth of the candidates will proceed to the third stage.
Law firms typically use the following assessments to evaluate candidates.
- Logical Reasoning Test
The logical reasoning aptitude exam analyzes the candidate’s ability to work with ambiguous information and identify patterns. This assessment arranges shapes in a particular sequence but will leave one shape missing from the pattern. The test taker will have to determine the shape that logically completes the sequence from about five to eight different options. Each question is timed. The patterns are commonly depicted by changes in position, frequency, shape, and color.
- Personality Test
The personality questionnaire helps outline the applicant’s likes, dislikes, work preferences, and general demeanor. There will be a series of statements that the candidate must rate on a five-point scale. The scale ranges from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree”. Generally, the statements are very short and will be something along the lines of “I get stressed out very easily” and the candidate must mark how well they relate to that statement. The results will give the firm insight into how the applicant will fit in at the company and in a work setting.
- Situational Judgment Test
The situational judgment test is personalized to assess specific behavioral skills that are favored in lawyers. The questions will adhere to an outline of the values and competencies that are needed to successfully complete the responsibilities that come with the job. The SJT will present a series of hypothetical scenarios that lawyers will likely encounter. Following the scenarios is a list of possible responses. The test taker must choose the most appropriate response for the given situation.
- Verbal Reasoning Test
The verbal reasoning aptitude exam is among the most important of the online assessments because it appraises the ability to understand written information. Lawyers must sort through and proLawyers must sort through and read hundreds and hundreds of documents for their job. The verbal reasoning test ensures that the candidate can accurately determine the key points of the documents and prioritize the important information. The test will present a paragraph of information using a legal context with three to five follow-up questions. The follow-up questions are either multiple-choice inquiries about specific information, or the questions have the answer choices of “True”, “False”, or “Cannot Say” to establish a relationship between the statement and the passage. The verbal reasoning test is timed.
- Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking
The Watson-Glaser critical thinking test assesses the candidate’s ability to draw conclusions, recognize assumptions, and interpret arbitrary information. The test taker must read a brief passage and then a subsequent statement. The multiple answer choices will ask the test taker to identify the connection between the statement and the passage. The answer choices include “True”, “Probably True”, “Insufficient Data”, “Probably False”, and “False”.
The third stage serves as a pre-screening interview. Depending on the firm and the location, this interview may be held over the phone or on video chat. During this interview, the firm tries to get a better picture of the candidate, their goals, interest in the company, and their overall background.
The interview usually starts with a walkthrough of the candidate’s resume, some questions about the company itself, and a handful of competency-based questions. Competency-based questions ask about past behavior as a way to estimate how the person may act in the future.
Candidates who are successful during this stage will be invited to interview in-person with one of the firm’s partners.
The face-to-face interview is the final stage of the hiring process. The candidate will be assessed on their knowledge of the industry, their communication skills, and how they present themselves among other things.
Below are common interview questions asked during this stage:
- What would you do if you were assigned to a case that you had a moral conflict with?
- Describe a time when you have failed. What did you learn from it?
- What skills make you an asset to our team?
- Do you prefer to self-manage or be managed by someone else?
- Why are you interested in ______ practice of the law?
- What would you do if you found out a colleague did not like working with you?
How to Prepare for the Tests in the Legal Sector?
Due to the high volume of cuts made during the assessment stage of the interview process, it is extremely important that you do your due diligence when preparing for these tests. The questions and time limits make it easy to get flustered during these assessments, but practicing is a great way to put your mind at ease.
First, you may want to rank the tests based on which one you may find the most difficult or will need the most practice with. Typically, the most difficult tests are the aptitude ones. The best way to prepare for law tests is by using online practice tests. Online practice tests recreate the testing environment to give you an inside look of what to expect before you take the firm’s assessments. Practicing this way allows you to become comfortable with the content, work at a faster pace, and simultaneously improve your accuracy. An additional benefit is the chance to see your score at the end. Your score on these practice tests is an estimate of how well you will do on the firm’s assessment and indicates how much more time you should put toward practicing.
The behavioral assessments are slightly harder to practice for because certain firms value different qualities than other firms. Therefore, although there are right and wrong answers, the “right” answers may vary depending on the company’s preferences. A good way to determine which answers the firm is looking for is by doing background research on them. This includes reviewing their values, competencies, and any other information listed on their website or the job posting. Then, look through some sample questions to practice applying these values to your answers. This will help your results align with the company’s preferences making you a favorable candidate.
Law Firms Interview Tips
Interviews can be nerve-racking, but they don’t have to be. With enough time and effort, you will be able to breeze right through your upcoming interview.
First and foremost, prepare for possible competency-based questions. These are important because they examine your disposition whether it be with a client, the opposing party, or just around the office. Take a visit to the company’s website and read their values and “about” page to get an idea of what the interviewer is looking for. Below are some sample competency-based and tricky ethics questions. Use these to practice associating the company’s values with your answers.
- Would you sacrifice quality to meet a deadline?
- You are alone in the office and an important client calls demanding that you get rid of certain documents. What do you do?
- A client tells you that they are guilty but wish to plead “not guilty”. How does this affect your performance on the case?
- Describe a time you and a colleague disagreed. How did you handle this situation?
Be sure to include specific examples that demonstrate one or more of the company’s values. Firms will also ask questions about how you work, your thought-process, and possibly some job-specific questions. Other common interview questions include the following:
- How do you stay up to date with changes in this area of the law?
- If you could change any law, what would it be and why?
- If you were stranded on a desert island what would you bring with you and why?
- How you approach networking events?
- Describe possible major changes to this area of the law in the next five years?
- Why are you interested in our firm?