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Who’s the boss: collaborative hiring in the legal setting

Posted by
11 Jul 2016

Flicking through BBC IPlayer the other week, I came across a documentary; “Who’s the Boss?” chronicling different companies’ foray into the world of collaborative hiring, a process where the hiring decisions are collaborative and informed by employees rather than the usual top down process. The documentary showed collaborative hiring in a rather extreme fashion; week long immersive interviews where candidates undertook a variety of interviews and tasks that would not ordinarily form part of their day to day responsibilities whilst being observed by all employees, following which the employees voted for who they wanted in the position, with the usual decision maker being bound by their decision. 

Whilst I can’t see collaborative hiring in the way it was portrayed there catching on in law firms, the concept itself is not a new one and elements of it are already part of the hiring process for many firms, or, in my view, should where appropriate be incorporated – for example:

  • Feedback from receptionists– this is nothing new and something I know most of my clients employ.  When waiting in a reception area for their formal interview to begin, candidates are often less guarded and it’s a good opportunity for receptionists to monitor how the candidate interacts with them and feedback to the Partners.
  • Finding out what employees’ want before beginning the hiring process – in my view, before beginning interviews, Partners should have open conversations with their team members to establish what the team itself wants from a new starter.  Involving members of the team in this way should increase the prospects of the successful candidate being a good match and lessen the risk of upsetting the team dynamic.
  • Canvassing team opinions of candidates before interview – law can be a very small world and it may be that a member of the team has already worked with or come across a candidate previously.  By not doing this, Partners can miss out on pertinent information about a candidate which may inform how good a fit they will be for their team.
  • Involving other members of the team in the interview process – my first NQ interview was actually held by two Senior Associates; these were the people who would be working with and supervising me on a daily basis.  It was therefore important that I be someone they could see themselves working with.  With Partner only interviews, where candidates will be working more closely with other members of the team, this advantage is lost.
  • Arranging team meetings with candidates the Partner is considering making an offer to – again this is something I experienced as a legal candidate.  Not only is it an effective way to increase a candidate’s buy in into the firm it is a good way to practically assess personality and culture fit.


Used properly, aspects of collaborative hiring will make employees feel valued and increase a firm’s chances of hiring the right candidate.  However, Partners must remember, that if they are not taking an employee’s views on board, to have an honest conversation with that person as to why, otherwise rather than making their employees feel valued, they will actually be doing the opposite.

Have you experienced a collaborative hiring process, either as an employer, employee or candidate?  If so, please do share your views.  Further, if you would like general advice as to how to prepare for an interview, please contact me on 0113 243 9775 or Contact Us

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