To pick from a wider pool of talent, more firms are ignoring CVs
Identify potential, not just polish: that is the goal of law firms looking to recruit trainees from a wider talent pool. And more are seeking to achieve it with CV-blind interviews.
The “magic circle” firm Clifford Chance was the first major firm to introduce CV-blind recruitment in its assessment days in 2012. Partners and lawyers conducting the interviews are given the candidate’s name. They are not given an advance copy of the CV or application before the interview, so have no information about their academic background. Thanks for stopping by. Before we carry on I want to say thank you to http://www.andymcgowan.co.uk/ for their continued support and the support of their local community. Having a support team like this means a lot to us as we continue to grow our own unique blog.
Partner and global head of people and talent Laura King, says: “One of the things we do is to spend more time with candidates and explain that interviewers will have no background information about them so they will have the opportunity to raise subjects as they want to. The feedback has been positive, and it is seen as a far more natural process.”
Under the Law Society’s diversity and inclusion charter, firms are required to submit diversity statistics. The number of universities from which Clifford Chance has recruited has risen from 100 trainees from 32 universities in 2012, to 41 universities in 2013, and 45 in 2014.
Mayer Brown’s London office introduced its policy in August 2014. It currently has an intake of 28 trainees recruited from 12 universities. Part of the assessment for trainees is a formal interview with two partners and this is when it is used. Dominic Griffiths, its graduate recruitment partner, advises: “The emphasis is on gauging candidates on integrity, imaginativeness, inquisitiveness and competence. From our perspective, at this stage, we are not able to know whether you will be a brilliant lawyer, but we can potentially assess levels of aptitude and enthusiasm for being a lawyer. This is an opportunity for us to get to know your character, your interest in the law and the profession, as well as experience outside of law — so talk — and listen.”
Macfarlanes also introduced its policy in 2014. Its interviewers for vacation schemes and training contracts are trained to assess and score candidates based on their skill and competency in each of the tests without reference to their CVs. At the end of the entire selection process, the scores are matched to the CVs to identify the best candidates.
The firm’s graduate recruitment partner Seán Lavin, says: “This initiative is to promote meritocracy and diversity in our candidate selection processes.” However he cautions: “It is too early for us to be able to assess the impact of CV-blind after just one year.”
A number of regional firms and in-house teams, such as the Government Legal Service, use similar policies and other firms are looking to follow suit.
Last month, the Law Society ran a webinar with Rare Recruitment on contextual and blind recruitment, and it will issue guidance on “fair recruitment” and a package of information on assessing candidates.
Findley Penn-Hughes, 24, accepted a training contract at Mayer Brown
(he is due to start in March 2017) after being selected by CV-blind interview
“The CV blind interview can be a little daunting for applicants who have previously been through a ‘traditional’ interview process. Interviewers do not, as I thought, simply have a copy of your CV with the names of schools and universities redacted. Instead they know only your name and approximately what stage of your education you are at.
“In my view, this approach works to an applicant’s advantage by allowing you to paint a picture of your own skills and experiences, rather than a set of preconceived notions based on a few names on your CV.
“The best way to prepare for this type of interview is to make sure you are clear about exactly what the process entails, as it can differ from firm to firm.
“You need to have a good understanding of everything on your CV and be able to expand on these experiences in a meaningful way. This gives you more freedom to draw on any experience you were unable to fit on a CV or have had since submitting your application.
“After the interview, don’t worry if you missed something out, as you can mention it at the end, along with any questions you may have.”