The Predicament of a Top Applicant Who Interviewed Poorly

Finding a great legal support candidate is a bit like finding a hidden treasure: the same delight and excitement, the same high hopes for the future. And when a great candidate interviews poorly, the disappointment can be as strong as discovering that a supposed treasure is actually worth little.

Even the best applicants may have an “off” day in which they interview poorly. But how can hiring managers distinguish the “off” candidates from the ones who will genuinely perform as badly as they interviewed?

Identifying the “One-Off” Interview

To distinguish candidates who simply had a bad day from those who disqualified themselves from the running, ask questions like:

  • Did the candidate seem interested? A bad day or a bout of the flu can both distract a candidate, making it more difficult for him or her to answer questions and leading to the impression of a poor interview. However, a candidate who still seemed interested in the job and the company – by asking questions or by demonstrating an understanding of what the company does and what the position requires – is more likely to simply have interviewed poorly on that day.
  • Do we know enough about the candidate to make a confident decision? Review the answers the candidate provided. Do you feel that you can evaluate the candidate’s likelihood of performing well based on the answers given? Is the information you have promising, but incomplete? If you identify a few gaps in an overall good impression, a second interview in person or by telephone may be an option.
  • Did the candidate follow up? Candidates who follow up with a prompt and gracious thank you are more likely to be genuinely interested in the job. Consider looking twice at a candidate who concisely addresses any conspicuous interview gaps in the thank-you note, such as by mentioning important work experience.

When It’s Time to Move On

Some candidates have bad days. Others, however, are simply not a good “fit” for your organization, no matter how promising their experience and skills look on paper. When you identify one of these candidates, it is important to let go of the “sunk cost” and focus on moving forward with another candidate or with additional applicant searches.

Whether you’ve just begun a round of hiring or are seeking to find a stronger applicant after a disappointing interview, don’t hesitate to talk to a staffing firm that specializes in placing legal support talent. At Kent Legal, our experienced staffing partners help law firms and legal departments throughout the greater Toronto area find the top legal support candidates they need. Contact us today to learn more.

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