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5 Behavioral Questions to Ask Legal and Compliance Candidates



Your next legal or compliance hire must be prepared to work under tremendous pressure and make difficult decisions to protect your company. Those decisions have lasting ramifications, so it’s important to be certain you’ve hired someone who has been tested under fire. 

A thorough behavioral assessment reveals important traits about a candidate’s character based on previous actions. This is a standard part of many law school and law firm interviews, so the candidate should be familiar with this interviewing technique. 

In addition to questions designed to test core competencies, your team should prepare a series of behavioral questions that align with the culture of your company and the parameters of your position.

As you ask these questions, listen for specific examples from your candidates and rank their responses accordingly. If you rank on a scale of 1-3, for instance, a response that is filled with generalities or vague references would earn a score of 1, while one that speaks to a specific example would earn a 2. A detailed response that includes an example specific to your industry would earn the highest score of 3.

Here are some examples of specific character traits and the questions that reveal them.

● Integrity

Describe a situation or two in which the pressure to compromise your integrity was the strongest you have ever felt.

Listen for: A response that outlines the conflict, explains what factors contributed to the temptation and how the candidate used rational decision-making to determine the appropriate course of action. The candidate should be able to share what he or she learned from the experience and how the decision ultimately impacted others. Look for a candidate who demonstrates an ability to influence colleagues to make decisions in the best interest of the company, even if they are unpopular. 

● Strategic Problem Solving

Tell me about a time when you had a complex problem to solve. What options did you generate? How did you choose the best one?

Listen for: A genuinely challenging legal dilemma and a strategic approach for resolving it. The response should include the candidate’s methods for researching the decision, critically evaluating options and building consensus among the leadership team where applicable. 

● Resourcefulness

What sorts of obstacles have you faced in your present / most recent job, and how did you overcome them?

Listen for: Passion and effectiveness in figuring out how to surmount barriers to achieve a goal. The ideal response may describe issues that include budgetary restrictions, outdated corporate infrastructure or long-standing but ineffective methods. The candidate should be able to outline a specific approach for tackling this obstacle and demonstrate that it worked. Ideally, the candidate’s methods contributed to lasting organizational change. 

● Organization/Planning

Give me an example of a time when the details of a task or project were particularly important. How do you ensure accuracy on a consistent basis?

Listen for: A description of a major project or task that made a significant impact on the company. The candidate should be able to explain what made this particular project difficult to manage and what specific steps he or she took to ensure it was completed properly. The candidate should be able to speak about contingency plans and methods for evaluating the success of the project.

● Adaptability

Tell me about a time where you reacted quickly to changing conditions.

Listen for: A serious situation where the progression of events went beyond mere inconvenience. This could include a lawsuit, a public relations crisis involving a legal matter or a regulatory issue the candidate was asked to resolve. The candidate should be able to demonstrate that he or she stayed calm in the face of this pressure and used a systematic approach to resolving the issue. 

Your next hire needs to have character beyond reproach. An effective behavioral assessment reveals traits that aren’t outlined on a resume, for better or for worse. 

These questions are designed to give you a place to start, but they should be customized based on the position and your company’s objectives for it. 

An executive recruiting firm with legal and compliance expertise can take your company through the entire assessment process, including behavioral interviews. This assures a quality hire while reducing the time constraints for you and your team. 

BarkerGilmore uses rigorous assessment techniques as part of its customized hiring process. We have the skills and industry expertise to identify the best fit, and we guarantee our results. To learn more about how we can secure top talent for your company, contact us today.

8 Ways to Effectively Evaluate Candidates

Topics: Recruiting   |   Compliance


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