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Utah Business

See how a Utah law firm tweaked their hiring process to give more control to potential employees.

Hacking Hiring

Bringing on a new employee can be a bit of a gamble, and it’s left more than one employer banging their head against a computer screen when things don’t work out. Today’s marketplace is fueled by adaptability and innovation, all systems are on the table for improvement and the hiring process is no exception.

There is of course, a tested and true way to bring on new employees: post a job listing, read some resumes, and conduct interviews. All of this is done in hopes of finding the golden employees – those who will work well on a team, who will be on the lookout for problems to solve and systems to improve, and consistently follow through on tasks.

But what if there were a less time consuming, more effective way to test the attributes of a prospective employee, and allow those who are not the desired fit to filter themselves out?

Improving The Hiring Process  

At JM Law Firm, after hours spent reading resumes and conducting interviews, one manager saw an opportunity for improvement. He designed and implemented a simple process that narrowed a pool of 100 applicants down to five, without ever reading a resume or conducting an interview.

“There are certain characteristics that you would want in any type of employee, whether we’re bringing on a new attorney or hiring a part-time mailroom worker” says one of the employers, who wishes to remain anonymous. “You want someone with street smarts, first off. Someone who can solve problems and survive in the real world without a bunch of hand holding. Being proactive is another key. Mainly, we’re looking for someone we can put in any type of environment, and know that they’ll constantly be looking to solve problems and improve systems in their given area. Those who can identify and improve problems are invaluable.”

So how does one find such an employee, without reading their resume or immediately conducting an in-person interview?

“We decided to test their commitment keeping and follow-through skills right from the get-go. The key is, we let them filter themselves in a [multi-step] process. I start by sending out a blast email to all the applicants. I write something like, ‘Hello so and so, thank you for your application, it looks like you might be a good fit for our firm. I then ask them why they’d be interested in working for our firm and see how many respond.”

Management at the firm will then send out an additional two emails to further test the follow-through capabilities of the applicants.

“Amazingly, by the time we get to the third email, almost 80 percent of the pool have filtered themselves out, simply by not responding. And if we’re being honest, these are not the type of employees we want populating our offices. So it’s a win-win.”

It is, in effect, handing the power of employment over to the potential employees. They just don’t know it.

“After the third email, it usually filters down to around five to seven applicants that can be divided into two groups – the slightly crazy people and the on-top-of-things employees that you want to hire. This is where I finally do some resume reading and schedule a phone interview.”

But here’s the key; even the phone interview becomes the applicant’s responsibility.

“For the phone interview, I’ll send them a spreadsheet with my phone number and time slots when I will be available.” says a manager at the firm. “I try to be pretty flexible and give a good range of times. Their job is to sign up for the time they’d like and then call me at that time.”

This final test of responsibility adds a last filter: of the six that signed up for the phone call, only three actually called. During the actually phone call, those at the law firm might ask them questions like, “ Tell me about a time you were treated unfairly?” Or, “Tell me about the last system you improved?” in order to further examine the attitude of the applicant and weed out any potential victim mentality.

But Does It Work?

When speaking of the applicants brought onto the team using this process, management says, “They turned out to be incredible team players who could handle higher levels of responsibility and problem solving. Exactly whom we were looking for.”

Overall, the law firm highly recommends the process. It calls for a few extra emails but quickly eliminates those who are not willing to commit to follow through, bringing the best of potential employees to the firm.

As we live in a marketplace driven by adaptability, this is just one example of an already-in-place process being modified to produce a better result. Opportunities for improvement like this are everywhere, simply waiting for an outside-the-box mind to notice.