Monday, September 06, 2004

Every year I do this, I forget how busy interview season gets. It's one thing to get interrupted all day with junior associates asking me inane questions about the cases we're working on. But it's quite another thing to get interrupted all day with 30-minute interviews with law students. It makes getting anything else done relatively difficult, and by the end of the day I'm not much use to my clients, or to the law students I'm interviewing. If I charted how many students I gave a positive evaluation to against the time of day, I'm sure it would fall as the day gets longer. I have no patience at 4:30 for a guy who doesn't know we don't do Intellectual Property work, or a girl who has no idea why she wants to move to California.

What's making these past couple of weeks slightly more difficult is the bastard partner down the hall from me. He keeps signing up for a full slate of interviews, and then cancels almost them all, throughout the day, one by one, leaving the recruiters scrambling to find a last-minute replacement. And, more often than not, the replacement ends up being me, because they can't find anyone else. The most frustrating thing is that when he's not being a bastard, he's a great interviewer. He does it very well, I think leaves candidates with a favorable impression, and is able to cut through the crap and get as real a picture as someone can get in 30 minutes. He's smart. But he's unreliable. It carries over to his work product too. He made partner on the strength of the work he can do when he's engaged, and the client relationships he can effectively form. But for all his strengths, he's impossible to work with because you never know when he'll disengage and flake on something, or drop his work on someone else, or refuse to respond to e-mails, come to meetings, and really stay on top of things.

It's an unusual trait among lawyers who get far -- the lawyers I've encountered in my career tend, more than the average, to be reliable but boring, hard-working but unspectacular, diligent but predictable. He's more like a businessman. Moments of greatness but a general difficulty in always knowing what you're going to get. People like that are more interesting people. They're not better colleagues when you need to get things done, even if they're better lunch partners. But lately he's been worse than usual, and this interview season he's been making my life hell. He did a 7-minute interview with a candidate on Friday. After 7 minutes he told the guy he enjoyed meeting him, but had other work to do, and had the kid sit in the hall for 23 minutes waiting for the recruiter to come back to pick him up, while he called a client. The student mentioned it to the recruiter and apparently seemed pretty frustrated by the whole thing. Meanwhile, the partner loved him. He said that in 7 minutes he learned all he needed to know, and gave the guy a thumbs-up. We can't do it this way. We can't have candidates sitting in the hall, where they might see something we don't want them to see. We can't have them thinking we're shortchanging them, that we have other things to do that are more important than they are. He doesn't understand. And he keeps trying to poach one of my clients that I brought him into a deal on, just to help me out, and now he's getting too cozy with the CEO. My client, not yours. Deal with it.

Love the snapshots, AL. Guess you must not be a total jerk at work, else you would tell the recruiters 'no way' when they come looking for a last minute replacement. Since it is interview season, be sure to post the best of the best, and the worst of the worst.
Has anyone reading this site ever read "The Rodent"? Remember the section of the book that classifies the different types of partners? You know, there's the "power partner," who does whatever he wants. Then there's the "puny partner," who can't get any respect from the other partners. Well, this post kinda reminded me of that.
I'm doing on campus interviews now and have been scheduling all of them in the last slot of the day. My logic was that after asking 20 kids the same thing and getting the same response the interviewers were more likely to remember the last person they saw that day. Is this the wrong approach?
*Disclaimer* This post is not from someone who knows.

My thought is, however, that you are going to stand out more on your merits and how you present yourself - they will all take notes after your visit. I would rather come in earlier in the day when the interviewer was not tired and still gave a damn. Unless you have some particularily memorable kick-ass presence about you, why should they remember you at the tail end when they are ready to go home over someone equally as presentable that they visited with earlier - before everyone started to look alike?
The conventional wisdom dictates that you do either the first or last interview of the day. This includes the last interview before the lunch break, when the interviewers often switch, and also the first slot after lunch, if they have switched.

If its the same team doing everyone all day, stick to either first or last. I always shot for last.
Just wondering if all those time you spend interviewing are not billable, doesn't this translate into lower billable hours and productivity for this month? Or do you find some way to bill it to clients somehow?

>Just wondering if all those time you spend
>interviewing are not billable, doesn't this translate
>into lower billable hours and productivity for this

I would hope that they keep track of the billed hours per month, or at least per quarter and take a brief look at these before they look at the sum total. It would be reasonable to accept a dip in the billed hours of the *hiring partner* during interview season just like it would be reasonable to accept a dip in hours during August for a partner who has most of their clients in France.

(Note: France goes on holiday in August. Don't visit during this time.)
My worst interview was at 4:40. I walked into the hotel and the guy had his bags packed and waiting in the lobby area of the suite. He asked me two questions and after I had asked three he asked if I had any more in a tone that clearly conveyed that I better not. I would always avoid the last slot of the day and right before lunch.

Pre law school I went in to interview at this conglomerate who wanted to hire me for a jr exec position. The first round went fine but the VP in charge of the division was opposed b/c I didn't have an audit background. They bring me back in expressly to meet w/ this VP so I can talk to him and allay his fears. The interview lasted 10 mins, w/ the first 8 about college football, before he declares that he won't approve of anyone who didn't do audit work and I have a meeting to prepare for would you mind waiting in the hall for the recruiter to show up? Needless to say I was furious and turned down the job when they offered it to me. It seemed to be a total waste of time to bring me in a second time if the person I'm talking to won't change his mind for anything and his opinion doesn't really matter anyway.


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