Should we be adopting the mindgaming exploits of Meryl Streep’s character Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada”, to find out if your candidate is the best fit for your team? The menacing fashion editor’s interrogatory questions renders Anne Hathaway’s character almost speechless in the famous interview scene that still makes audiences tremble, nearly 15 years on.

You’d be forgiven for thinking this kind of interview process isn’t realistic, but employers are using increasingly innovative ways to try and find an employee that is the right fit for their team.  Australian accounting company, Xero, recently disclosed that they decide on the best candidates from simple tests such as – do they wash their own coffee cup post-interview? Do they pick up a discarded wrapper outside the interview room? The managing director claimed in a recent interview that it was a good way of measuring an applicant’s attitude and attention to detail.

They aren’t the only ones using quirky tactics. A software company recently spoke about a quirky recruitment tactic they used in Malaysia which brought in successful candidates. They ran an advertisement asking for ‘lazy developers’ – they wanted a skilled individual who could effortlessly and efficiently solve problems on the job.

When sourcing a new lawyer for your firm or to work on a project, you’ll be looking for the correct qualifications, experience and knowledge as well as high emotional intelligence to ensure they’re the right fit for the team. But are these tricks the most efficient and clearcut way of finding out their inner nature and attitude to their work?

Albeit creative, there are other ways of analysing your candidates’ personality, not just through difficult questions but also through in-depth personality testing. Developing such testing for the recruitment process allows you to build the ideal profile of the lawyer that would fit well and carry the ethos of the firm. For example, at Vario we look for a highly-skilled, emotionally intelligent and resilient lawyer who can thrive working as a legal consultant. In order to employ the best candidates we use a number of behavioural and psychometric tests, and the answers are analysed by an independent business psychologist who feeds back on whether the candidate has shown they have the right ability for the role.

A great benefit of personality testing is that it gives you the opportunity to objectively review each candidate and challenge any unconscious bias – although uncomfortable to have to root out in your organisation – which can lead to the best candidates being missed. It’s equally important that any personality testing initiatives are coupled with other workshops and training around unconscious bias.

At Vario it’s particularly important that the legal consultants we recruit can parachute into freelance work from day one – for example the ability to jump in head first and thrive without an induction and training so they can support a client with legal expertise immediately. These kind of legal consultants are highly skilled and have great emotional intelligence – the ability to problem-solve, build relationships and be personable from day one in a role and our personality testing helps discover these skills.

Think again before trying to ‘hack’ the interview process with mindgames – a more effective way of finding out your candidate’s nature and approach to challenges is through measuring their personality through a series of questions, rather than just analysing why they didn’t pick up a discarded crisp packet!

Posted by Kirsty Dougan

Kirsty Dougan is Managing Director of Asia for Vario at Pinsent Masons. Kirsty joined Vario in March 2019, and led the Hong Kong launch. Kirsty is responsible for Vario’s operations across Asia and the growth of the business in the region. Vario has become the leading law firm led provider of flexible legal solutions, representing over 500 lawyers across numerous jurisdictions. Kirsty possesses significant experience in this field and is a pioneer of alternative legal services in Asia as co-founder of an international ALSP business in the region and was the Managing Director there for over 8 years.

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