In this blog I’ve set out a range of questions law firms typically use for training contract and / or vacation scheme interviews. Feel free to use these for mock interviews with family and friends, but try not to overdo the ‘model’ answers.
Though in theory scripted answers sound like a great idea, they can be super time-consuming to pull together and memorise. Indeed, if during an interview, your memory gets the better of you there’s a strong chance panic will set in and throw you off course. What’s more, regurgitating over-rehearsed answers word-for-word is likely to make you sound like a robot. Remember, the more you treat interviews like a conversation the more relaxed and confident you’ll come across.
Therefore, my advice is to use the following as a rough guide and instead focus on preparing bullet point answers. Also, I’ve deliberately kept the list short so as not to overwhelm you. What’s more, the range of questions used by law firms is limited meaning you may find some interviewers simply phrase them slightly different. Either way, the interviewers are broadly after answers that confirm you are hungry for a career in law and have the relevant knowledge, skills and potential to excel at it.
Warm-up / Motivational questions:
- Tell us about yourself
- Please talk briefly through your CV highlighting the skills and experience you will bring to the role
- Why do you want to become a solicitor? [Why not a barrister?]
- Why did you decide to apply to our firm?
- What motivated you to study law?
- Why [commercial] law?
- What did you enjoy most about your degree? Has your course lived up to your expectations?
- What aspects of your course / degree have you found most challenging?
- What are you medium and longer-term career goals?
- What has led you to this point in your career / studies?
- What do you think you’d bring to the role?
- What other firms have you applied to?
Experience / competency-based questions
- What achievement are you most proud of and why?
- What challenges do you think you might face in the role of a trainee solicitor and how would you handle them?
- How would you react to when you aren’t in agreement with the rest of your team?
- What experiences most influenced your development as an individual?
- What do you understand to be the role of a trainee solicitor?
- What qualities do you admire most in other people?
- Tell us a time when you had to…..work in a team / juggle conflicting deadlines / make an difficult or unpopular decision etc
- Can you give an example of when you encountered a set-back on a project you were working on? How did you react to this situation? What changes did you make in your approach?
- Please tell us of a time you have had to adapt your style when dealing with different people.
- How do you build relationships with people?
- Please tell us about a time you have had to prioritise your work recently. What was the situation? How did you determine what had to be done? What was the outcome?
Legal knowledge / commercial awareness
- If you were the new Prime Minister, which law would you abolish / introduce?
- If you were given responsibility for setting up a new office for our firm in [xxxxx], how would you go about it?
- Tell us about a recent news story that has caught your attention? How might that impact us [insert name of law firm you’re considering applying to]?
- What do you feel are the key challenges facing commercial law firms at present?
- What do you feel are the key challenges that [insert name of the firm you’re considering applying to here] senior partners/executive committee will be grappling with right now?
- How does our firm compare to our competitors?
- How do you feel that you could demonstrate commercial awareness as a trainee solicitor?
- How would you define commercial awareness?
- What do you think of XXXXX event/development/news story? How might that affect our firm/clients?
- What qualities do you think clients look for in their lawyers?
- What changes do you predict taking place in the legal sector over the next five years?