Men interviewing for a jobBeing the boss is a real treat sometimes. Now that your firm is growing and you’re hiring you need to make sure you limit disruptions which can be caused by bad hiring decisions. There’s one simple rule that will make your life easier – be slow to hire and fast to fire.

I’ve seen many common mistakes from attorneys in their hiring practices. First, be very, very, very (did I mention “very”) hesitant to hire family members or friends. I’ve consulted with multiple law firms who had previously made this mistake and the relative/friend didn’t work out. These lawyers are often hesitant to get rid of the person. Efficiency and profits suffer as a result. When the person is finally let go the relationship is then strained. Second, many lawyers hire one of the first, if not the first, person they interview because they “need someone.” These employees also typically don’t work out.

Be mindful of our discussion of the process lawyers should use when deciding who to hire. You should be clearly determining what tasks you need fulfilled by a hypothetical hire and how that person will fit into your workflow and complete tasks with some autonomy. Doing this will, most of the time, disqualify family and friends as it will turn out they aren’t qualified to fill your actual needs. Understanding your needs will result in you looking more for people with very specific skills and/or personality traits. This will make your hiring process take a little more time but you will get longer-term employees, who make you more money, as a result.

It’s also important that you hire people who are going to be proactive in their work regardless of the role you are hiring them for. It can be very hard to measure up someone from a resume and an interview. Here are a few quick tips for screening out the riff raff:

  • Make sure anyone applying (regardless of the position) has to submit a cover letter along with their resume. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t include the cover letter. If someone can’t even follow the instructions of how to apply then how well are they going to follow instructions in your office?
  • At the beginning of the interview ask the potential employee if they looked at your website. You’d be surprised at how many haven’t. If someone isn’t inquisitive or proactive enough to look at the website for a business at which they are about to interview then you have to question their initiative and ability to think independently. If someone hadn’t looked at my website then that person wasn’t going to get hired, plain and simple.

Finally, if you’re not happy with any of the people you’ve interviewed then don’t be shy about doing another round of interviews with some fresh applicants. Don’t rush into a hiring decision as a bad one will decrease your profits more than many attorneys appreciate. Today we’ve talked about being slow to hire. Tomorrow we’ll talk about why you should be fast to fire.

Today’s action items are simple. When interviewing people for a new position make sure they fit actual needs that you have taken the time to sit down and think through. Make sure the process of someone applying includes some form of step so you can gauge their ability to follow instructions and procedures (you’d be surprised how many can’t). Finally, start off an interview by asking if someone has looked at your website. If they haven’t then don’t hire them.