Companies face uncertainty in many forms every day; however, a global pandemic is a new level of uncertainty that none of us can say we have experienced or know exactly how to navigate. Never in our lifetimes has there been a time when entire countries have closed the physical doors to their businesses and sent almost everyone home to work. Firms and in-house legal teams alike are seeking guidance on how to keep processes moving whilst adhering to social distancing, self-isolation and lockdown guidance.
In-house legal teams and law firms around the globe are busier than ever. General counsel are actively engaged in strategy conversations amongst the C-suite, and law firms are seeing a rise in labour and employment, litigation, restructuring and bankruptcy work to support their in-house clients. For in-house legal teams, coverage of business-critical issues is needed while the general counsel is managing the company’s risks and exposures. Legal talent needs that existed before the outbreak are still imperative, in many cases, to help alleviate the workload that existed before and take on the work being created by the ever-shifting conditions.
While that talent still needs to be hired and companies have shifted interviews to a virtual option, hiring managers often feel uncomfortable making judgements based solely on a phone call or video conference.
Here is where an experienced executive search consultant can really help.
During our time in executive search, we have experienced disruption in many forms. And whilst a pandemic is new, we can confidently offer advice on how to make effective hiring decisions using alternative methods. How?
Understanding your options
First and foremost, we dedicate our time to sourcing and qualifying candidates (both permanent and interim); it’s our job. While we’re focusing on identifying the right legal talent for your team, your internal legal staff can focus on the matters at hand. Then with our broad market overview, we can help you evaluate the investment (both financial and time) of making a new hire and whether a permanent or interim solution is the best fit. When you have resources to hire new colleagues in these unusual times, you will have access to a broader candidate market because not every company is able to hire new colleagues. If your resources are more limited, we can introduce you to candidates who are adapt at working on a project-based or temporary basis and will immediately add value to your team. So, you can stay ahead of your competitors and keep your work going.
It goes without saying that a face-to-face interview is preferable when hiring for your team. It is the easiest way to read body language, understand facial cues and build rapport. Naturally this isn’t an option in the current climate. Luckily, there are seemingly endless options available to meet virtually – FaceTime, Skype, WebEx, Zoom, etc. – and to facilitate a productive one-on-one conversation.
Working in an international industry, this has been a key factor in our business for many years. Whether it is for a first interview for a permanent role or to hire a contractor working remotely, we’ve found that video conference interviews are increasingly common and effective. It gives you a sense of the candidate’s personality and allows you to read their body language and facial cues just as you would in person.
Technology provides a few solutions at once. Not only is it an efficient way to meet virtually, but most importantly, it keeps top talent engaged and interested until further progress can be made. That progress could even include extending an offer.
With the right team and resources, you can make a hire after several video conferences. After multiple video calls, you will have built a rapport with the candidate in a very similar way to how you would in an in-person. Also, for over 20 years, we have been in contact with the European legal market—we know the talent and we’re prepared. We talk with the legal market all day every day and have access to the right resources, right away. If you feel unsure about how you can manage these processes or implement alternatives, give us a call.
In the meantime, we’ve prepared a few guidelines for phone interview etiquette and tips as well as advice on video conferencing.