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Six 'Qs' to Look for When Hiring for Your Firm

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on October 07, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Education, skills, experience: these are the bedrock of a good potential hire. But you don't want to stop there. Finding the best candidate when your firm is hiring means searching for someone who has more than just the basics, someone with the qualities that will make for a stellar hire.

Enter the "six Q's." A recent Washington Post article detailed the six characteristics, or "quotients" the best job seekers have -- everything from IQ to IMQ, or the ability to adapt successfully to new situations. So here are the Q's to choose when adding to your law firm crews.

1. IQ: Intelligence Quotient (or Smarts)

This is a no-brainer. Intelligence and critical thinking skills should be on the top of pretty much any legal employer's list, whether you're hiring a new associate, a paralegal, or a courier.

2. EQ: Emotional Quotient (or Emotional Intelligence)

EQ has been touted as a more holistic alternative (or addition) to IQ for awhile now. It represents your ability to recognize your own and others' emotions, to be self-aware as well as empathetic, and to act on that information appropriately. Candidates with strong EQs will know how to get along, handle conflict, and deal with stress successfully.

3. PQ: Passion Quotient (or Wanting to Do the Work)

You want your employees to grow and succeed (and stick around), so make sure they have the right "passion quotient" -- that is, they're excited about the work and committed to making an impact.

(By now you're probably starting to think that this "quotient" thing is a bit of a gimmick and it is, but the, ahem, qualities identified are still important to look for.)

4. CQ: Cultural Quotient (or "Are They a Good Fit?")

Is the candidate someone who can mesh well with your firm's culture or who can adopt themselves to the ways things are done in your office? If not, they might not be happy at your firm. Just make sure you're not using culture as an excuse to screen out candidates with backgrounds that are different from yours.

5. CRQ: Courage Quotient (or "Can They Make Tough Calls?")

Will a candidate be able to challenge the status quo when necessary, to stand up for what they think is best, or to make tough decisions that might require some risk? If so, they're high on the courage quotient and could be a better fit that someone who only goes with the flow.

6. IMQ: Improvisation Quotient (or Thinking Outside the Box)

Being able to juggle multiple tasks, to refocus when needed, to think creatively and learn things on the go -- all of these skills can be essential to success in the legal profession. Asking candidates about times they've innovated, adopted to change, or solved a tricky situation can help you identify potential hires with high IMQs.

Have an open position at your law firm? Post the job for free on Indeed, or search local candidate resumes.

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