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The General Counsel Interview – Tips to Get to the Finish Line

The agony of defeat is tough for anyone to swallow, especially for the top lawyers we work with who are driven to win. Not making it past the first round of interviews in a general counsel search is frustrating. Coming in second place and not reaching the finish line is even more painful. Your life has been on hold for months; your vacation days have evaporated; and now you must inform your family and confidants that you were not the chosen one. You might ask yourself if it was all worth it, and the answer is, simply, YES! Having spoken to thousands of general counsels, no one has ever expressed regret over the path it took to achieve the top leadership position in their law department and there are thousands more striving to take on the challenge.

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Thirteen Favorite In-House Counsel Interview Questions

One of the most important responsibilities of a General Counsel and other managing counsel is building a team. Get it right and you will have a team that delivers significant value to the organization. Get it wrong and the negative impact on your productivity and reputation can be significant.

As an executive search consultant, my job is to deliver a diverse slate of exceptional candidates who all have the qualifications necessary to meet the needs of the role, and, as best as possible, the personality that will fit within the culture of the organization. Once I have presented the candidates to my client, it is then their responsibility to interview and ultimately select who they want to hire.

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The Most Revealing Interview Question

Without a doubt, the best part of my job is speaking with accomplished leaders. Whether interviewing someone for a high-level search or learning about the culture of a company, I come away from meetings with truly trusted advisors both invigorated and excited to share what I learned with my team and others.

Of all the questions I ask, “How do you create a competitive advantage for your company?” sparks the most passionate responses and allows me to learn just how valuable a particular leader is to the company and the people around him or her. While the question might sound simple, the answer –  and how it’s answered – often reveals whether someone has a seat at the table, and the culture where he or she thrives. 

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Using EQ as a Predictor of In-House Counsel Success

When emotional intelligence (EQ) burst on the scene in the 1990s, it was seen as the answer to the troubling observation that IQ alone was not a great predictor of professional success. Researchers confirmed that EQ was a critical consideration in predicting success (Dr. Travis Bradberry, Why You Need Emotional Intelligence).

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Top Reasons to Consider a Specialty Boutique Search Firm

Any businessperson over 50 years old should be able to remember when IT professionals rationalized their love affair with IBM mainframes with the simple explanation:

“No one ever got fired for buying IBM.”

The implicit meaning was clear: Buying computer products from a smaller company was risky, while buying from IBM was seen as safe and beyond reproach, even if you almost certainly paid more than if you bought from a competitor.

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Where Are the Good Associates for In-House Counsel Jobs?

If your firm is planning to recruit the best law firm associates for in-house counsel positions in 2017, you’ll be well served to fully understand the market conditions you’ll be facing, and thoughtfully consider the most effective strategy to pursue. 

To fully understand what the market looks like today, we need to examine both sides of the equation since the conditions faced today are clearly a result of both supply and demand shifts, and these conditions are not going away in the foreseeable future. 

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