Competency-based Interviewing: Taking Your Recruiting and Selection to the Next Level

What We Do and Why We Do It

At Volta, we advise law firms on everything from how to design and structure their hiring processes to how to enhance the interviewing skills of their lawyers and how to evaluate candidates. As a result, we offer several levels of interview training to help law firms successfully identify legal talent at every stage – law students, lateral associates and lateral partners. We have a deep expertise in the science and methodology of competency-based interviewing and can design an interview training program around your specific needs.

The traditional (unstructured) interview model continues to be the preferred selection method used by a majority of law firms despite overwhelming evidence that such interviews do not accurately predict high performers or provide consistent results. There is, however, a wealth of research on the effectiveness of other forms of interview, including competency-based and behavioral interviews, structured interviews and panel interviews. These have significantly more predictive value and provide more consistent data by which to determine whether a candidate is a good fit for the role.

Distinguishing Effective Selection Methods

Given the huge investment your firm makes in recruiting its lawyers – time, money and energy – and the constant need to identify and select top talent, it is critical to make sure that the firm’s process is clear, thoughtful and consistent and that everyone involved understands and plays their roles effectively. There is an inevitable tension between evaluating a candidate and promoting the firm and the opportunity. It’s hard to do both effectively in one interview. That’s why our work focuses on advising our clients how best to select the right candidates.

Effective selection is about the methodology of:

  • Consistently evaluating candidates against objective job-specific criteria; and
  • Accurately identifying candidates who are likely to succeed at your firm.

In addition, other parts of the recruiting process need to focus on:

  • Establishing and building a connection with the candidate;
  • Assessing the candidate’s likeability and cultural fit;
  • Setting expectations; and
  • Marketing the firm and selling the opportunity to the candidate.

We have the expertise and experience to cover all these aspects of the recruiting and selection process.

Managing Cognitive Biases

We all experience cognitive biases. Much of this bias is implicit and resides in us on a subconscious level.  These biases can interfere with our decision-making, often leading us to select candidates based solely on similarity, likability, and a personal connection.

The effect of this is to under-select qualified candidates who may be of another gender, or from a different race, ethnicity, or/and socio-economic group from the interviewer. While it is not possible to eliminate bias, its impact can be managed. We can advise you how to use selection methods to reduce unconscious bias and improve the hiring of women and diverse candidates.