5 Main Questions To Ask While Hiring a General Counsel

    The position of the General Counsel is an important part of the executive management team. You need someone who demonstrates excellent leadership, common sense, and a strong sense of ethics. Finding a candidate who has all these skills and meets all your expected qualities would be a challenging task. first of all, you will have to figure out your company’s need that what kind of skills or competencies you required the most in a person to work as a general counsel, before conducting an interview. For example, if your company is planning to go into acquisitions, someone with experience in corporate law might be helpful.

    No matter what the scope of the position is, the following are the main five assessment questions you must ask a candidate for the position of general counsel. 

    1. How much work would you outsource?

    It is always expensive to hire an outside counsel. If you ask this question to the candidate, you would be able to understand that how the candidate thinks about outsourcing and what criteria he uses to decide that when to use the internal staff, and when the company needs outsourcing. It would also help you to understand that how the candidate chooses the outsource firm while seeking outside counsel.

    In the candidate’s answer to this question, you want to find three main points.

    1. Experience with an external lawyer
    2. Acknowledgment of legal budgets
    3. Recognition of local law firms.

    2. How do you control costs in the legal department?

    The exact candidate for the job will have hands-on experience and a few guidelines for cutting costs in the legal department. The candidate should come up with ideas, for example utilizing internal legal services along with hiring inexpensive legal firms while looking for an outside consultant.

    A candidate for general counsel must understand that there could be budget constraints and he should be able to work within the limited budget and he should be creative in overcoming monetary restrictions.

    3. What are the three most challenging legal issues that you have gone through in business ever?

    Listen to the answer to this question carefully that how the candidate resolved the issues and what was the overall result of the situation. Did the candidate investigate some unknown areas of the issue? While developing a strategy, did the candidate choose to work with stakeholders?

    By asking this question, you will be able to understand that how each candidate will tackle the potential issues in your company.

    You can also compare the answers of candidates to this question. What one person found difficult could be a normal workday for another candidate. The difficulty of each task will show you what kind of problems the candidates have already faced.

    4. Give a situation that poses a substantial risk to the company. What will you do in this situation?

    This question will surely help you to find out that does the candidate has risk management and risk tolerance skills. The perfect candidate will be confident while answering this question because he would learn from a risky situation. You can estimate his level of tolerance for handling risk. If it didn’t go well, the best candidate can explain that how he could handle it wisely in the future.

    Risk management is always a difficult task and you always need a person who can manage the risk wisely and do better to overcome in the future.

    5. How did you interact with regulators as well as with your management team?

    The general counsel has to do several interactions with different individuals or teams, the two most important groups you must ask about are the regulators and the management team. You need a general counsel who has experience working with regulators and who has a well-organized system for maintaining records. 

    However, the general counsel’s work will be with your management team, you will be interested in knowing that how well the candidates are working with their team. Extraordinary responsibilities and an outstanding role outside of the legal department are the two significant signs that a candidate has gained the trust of his executive team. 

    By incorporating these five questions into your interview, you will gain a clear understanding of each candidate’s core competencies. The General Counsel is an important member of your executive team, so understanding each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses is crucial to your business.


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