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Fall recruiting always brings back memories of nervously waiting in hotel suites, taking boring tours through the offices of firms with exceedingly long names and reading terse rejection letters. Now I am the one making people wait, giving the tours and writing the letters. You know what: I love it (insert evil Mr. Burns laugh). According to a recent survey, though, only one out of every 37.5 law firm attorneys participate in fall recruiting and the trend is not looking good. OK, I just made that statistic up, but many attorneys don’t have much fun with fall interviewing. You can change all that. ICE BREAKERS When you begin, tell the prospect a little bit about yourself and your practice. Tip: Do not tell the candidate you absolutely hate the firm and the person you work for is Satan with a law degree. If you have nothing nice to say, just make up some stuff that the person wants to hear. For example, you work at a “lifestyle” firm, your big firm has a “small firm” feel, you take all of your vacation, etc. CHALLENGING QUESTIONS Once you get past the awkward intros, don’t forget that the purpose of the interview is to determine whether the prospective candidate is your firm’s “material.” To do so, ask these key questions and feel free to use the analysis as a guide. What is a major criticism you have of yourself? � “I’m lazy and have very minimal analytical ability.” This candidate is probably a “maybe.” � “I am a perfectionist.” Ahem, liar. You should spend the rest of the interview responding “Why?” in a very high-pitched voice to every answer (or question). Tell me how your friends would describe you. � “I am a cross between ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ and ‘Touched by an Angel.’” For providing an answer that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, ask this person to sit quietly while you check your e-mails for the remainder of the interview. � “I am conscientious, creative and resilient.” This person is probably a “maybe.” Beware, however, if hired, he may take your job. Remember, you never want to hire somebody better than you are, especially if you stink. What is your nickname? � “Klepto.” This could mean the candidate has a criminal record or has friends from Slavic countries — either way, though, follow-ups are off limits. You’ll have to go with your gut here. � “Gumby.” Ask nothing further and hire him on the spot. You’ll recall that Gumby is flexible and heroic. What more could you want in an associate? � “Felix Frankfurter.” I have no idea what this says about him. You may want to probe further. How do you like law school? � “I have wanted to poke pencils into my eyes every day since the beginning of first year. I wish that I had entered the management trainee program for McDonald’s. They have a great benefits package.” This person is a definite “maybe” because, hey, you just don’t get honesty like that anymore. � “It has been the greatest experience of my life. I’ve met remarkable people and really enjoy the pedagogical format.” Ask the same question again, but have the prospect answer without words, using gestures only. � “I’m not planning to graduate, I just thought it would be fun to spend my second summer working at your firm.” This is probably the “Curb Your Enthusiasm”/Felix Frankfurter character — I told you to check your e-mails, but did you listen? Obviously not. EVALUATIONS When the interview is over, you need to take at least five to 10 seconds to complete a review of your candidate. Most people consider the person’s demeanor, academic performance and genuine interest in the firm. Some additional criteria may be how the person might respond to anti-depressants or function on one hour of sleep. The key to enjoying the process and selecting quality candidates this fall is being yourself. If that doesn’t work, use a nickname. The Disassociate is an anonymous, irreverent look at the humorous side of life as a law firm associate. He can be reached at [email protected].

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