I am in the recruitment process for a training contract!

Firstly, congratulations!! 

Now for some tips....

Psychometric tests

Psychometric tests are designed to evaluate your skills, knowledge and personality. The tests are an objective way for the assessor to measure your ability to perform the job. The tests can include "aptitude tests" which test your cognitive abilities such as literacy and numeracy (i.e. do you have the right skillset for the job) and "behavioural tests" which detect personality traits (i.e. how does your character fit with the role and the firm).

The key to passing psychometric tests is quite literally: rinse and repeat. Practice really does make perfect with psychometric tests so we advise you to find the best 'prep packs' you can online. Make sure you read each question/statement properly and you practice enough to work out timings. Most psychometric tests are very time dependent and you'll be surprised how quickly time flies when you're doing these tests so keep an eye out on the time!

Our recommendations:

Find out what type of test you're doing and search for tests of that category online.

There'll always be practice tests! 

If you have any other suggestions, let us know - contact@whatthelawyer.com 

Types of tests: 

Numerical Reasoning - numerical reasoning tests are slightly less common in the training contract recruitment process (although some firms do use them such as Browne Jacobson!). These tests assess how you interpret charts, graphs, statistics, ratios and percentages. How quickly and accurately do you deal with numbers.  

Verbal Reasoning - verbal reasoning tests are assessing your ability to understand, evaluate and interpret written information. In a verbal reasoning test you will read a short passage of text before answering questions that will assess your interpretation. You will be required to draw logical conclusions from the passage of text you have just read - there are different ways in which this is assessed. 

Watson Glaser - the watson glaser is commonly used by law firms in the training contract recruitment process. The Watson Glaser test is a type of aptitude test that evaluates your decision making and judgement forming skills. There are around 40 questions split into the following 5 sections:

  1. Assessment of Inferences 

  2. Recognition of Assumptions

  3. Making Deductions

  4. Interpretation

  5. Evaluation

The questions follow a multiple choice format and you're given 30 minutes to complete the test. There isn't a clear cut pass / fail rate - it varies based on law firm. The law firm will determine the pass rate by taking into account how many candidates there are vs. how many they need for the next stage (usually an interview). In any case, always aim high with these tests to give yourself a fighting chance!

Abstract Reasoning - abstract reasoning tests assess your ability to learn new things quickly by identifying a set of rules and then applying them to a new situation. It will judge how you follow information and spot patterns. You may be familiar with the types of tests that show you 4 pictures, each picture being similar but slightly different from each other. You then need to pick a picture from the multiple choice options that you think completes the series of pictures. These types of tests are not as common in the training contract recruitment process. 

Situational Judgement - situational judgement tests assess how you react in certain hypothetic situations. An example: you'll be given a work related scenario and have to choose the follow up course of action from a list of options. You may also be asked to rate the level of effectiveness of each of the options or rank the options from most effective to least effective. 

 

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Should firms get rid of psychometric tests?!

podcast alert!!!

DON'T FORGET: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE !!!!

Interviews

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Getting to the interview stage is a great achievement so well done! You've managed to get through the hundreds (possibly thousands!) of training contract applications and you've further fought off the other candidates in the psychometric testing stage! Whoop whoop! 

Now you have the interview (which you'll smash!). 

Tips:

Remember all that law firm research you did for the training contract application?! Well, dig that back out and refresh your memory... and do some more research! 

  • Are you up to date with the latest cases the firm has been involved in?

  • Has the firm been in the news lately? 

  • Any interesting developments with the firm and its sectors? 

  • Do you know what the firm actually does? (I.e. what are its legal discipline specialisms?)

Make sure your research is up to date!!

Trainee Solicitor Life!

podcast alert!!!

On that note, re-read your application. What did you say? What examples did you give in response to your questions? Are you comfortable with being asked about those examples? Make sure you're really familiar with what you've already mentioned in your application so that you can provide a genuine non-rehearsed response when asked a question about it. 

Roughly think about what you might say to some of the common questions. With some of the more lengthier questions, adopt the 'STAR' technique (Situation, Task, Action and Result). This will keep your response concise and interesting.

 

Common questions that you may be asked include:

  • why do you want to be a lawyer? 

  • what drew you to our firm? 

  • which other firms have you applied to?

  • how would you persuade a potential client to choose our firm over another? 

 

Competency questions will require you to give practical examples to a specific competency. The questions will be tailored to skills that trainee solicitors are required to have. In responding to these questions, you should use the STAR technique. A good way to prepare for these questions is to think about examples that you can provide (beyond those given in your application).

 

Example questions:

  • describe a situation in which you have led a team 

  • an example of how you have handled conflict at work 

  • your biggest achievement and why

  • how you have worked effectively in a team to achieve a result 

  • an example of handling a pressurised situation 

  • an example of your ability to prioritise and organise 

Scenario based questions that will test how you will react in certain situations (essentially a situational judgement type assessment as described above but in interview format). You may be given scenarios where your supervisor is unavailable to supervise your work but the client is demanding it urgently or you're at court but counsel hasn't arrived and you're being pressured by a judge. I.e. how do you handle being in pressurised situations without someone there to hold your hand. REMEMBER: your work as a trainee must be supervised so consider this when thinking about responses to these types of questions. 

Don't forget:

  • Smile, be professional and polite at all times 

  • Keep hydrated 

  • Stay engaged in the interview process - ask questions when appropriate

  • Wear something comfortable

  • Ask for a minute to think about your answer if you need it!

  • Be honest and genuine. 

  • Sell yourself - now's not the time to be humble. They won't know how great you are unless you show them through examples! Make sure you're using the best examples you have that show you off.

  • Try not to sound too rehearsed with your answers!

  • Do practice interviews - use the careers services that are available to you.

  • Stay calm! You got this! 

Assessment Days

The last hurdle in the process! You're almost there... 

a typical assessment day will include all or a mixture of the following activities: 

  • interview with HR and/or Partner(s)

  • written test / research task

  • repeat of any psychometric tests

  • presentation preparation (individual and/or group)

  • presentation (individual and/or group)

  • group exercise

  • in-tray exercise

  • lunch

The purpose of an assessment day is to see you in action and assess how you cope/act in real life work situations i.e. can you work in a team? Are you commercially astute? Are you confident and sociable? 

General preparation:

Once again, familiarise yourself with all that law firm research you did at the application stage and thereafter.

 

This will not only help you get through some of the tasks, it'll also assist you with initiating conversations with people you meet during the day. Everyone you meet at the firm is expecting you to ask at least one question about the firm so think about what you'd love to hear more about! 

Do some additional research around the firm culture, office, structure of the firm and the legal practice areas - you may get a group exercise that will test this type of knowledge so it's good to be aware of what type of work the firm does!

Has the firm been in the news lately or completed some really big deals? It'd be great to know this stuff - you're unlikely to be assessed on this but if you get a chance to speak to a partner or solicitor at the firm, you could talk about the deal/news item and show off your knowledge!

It goes without saying, if the firm has sent you some material beforehand... read it! It may include a timetable of the day and perhaps even some pre-reading or preparation work for a presentation so make sure you're prepared by familiarising yourself with it all. 

Do you know the current issues impacting the firm? All that commercial awardees talk you hear throughout the process comes to fruition on the assessment day so stay ahead!

Do you know where you need to be on the day? Make sure you're comfortable with the location and timings for travel. The last thing you want to be is late! Firms may forgive lateness in certain circumstances but it may throw you off so make sure you give yourself enough time!

Group Exercise:

A group exercise will usually involve around 6 to 10 people (depending on the number of candidates invited to the assessment day). 

You'll be given a particular question or topic that will require you to discuss, plan, negotiate and generally come up with an agreed solution. 

The group exercise assesses: 

  • your ability to work as part of a team, 

  • your leadership skills, 

  • your project management skills, 

  • your communication skills and

  • your ability to think on the spot and come up with solutions/ideas (amongst other things). 

The exercise will be commercial based and not legal knowledge based so make sure you understand how a business works and what's important when making business decisions (i.e. strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). 

Group Exercise - Tips to stand out

  • Make sure you listen to the rest of the group - listen to their opinions and ideas and bounce off their contributions. You're working with each other, not against each other. 

  • Communicate clearly and always keep a positive attitude when responding and communicating with the group and others. 

  • Be as engaging and inclusive as you can be - if someone is quieter in the group, try and find a way to involve them without highlighting their lack of contribution!

  • Generally, everyone in the group will want to show that they are being an active team member. An unfortunate consequence of this is, you'll end up talking about idea after idea without agreeing a final solution! Keep an eye on the time and try and keep everyone focused on the end goal of the task (shows good project management!). 

Tests / exercises:

You'll likely do a test or two which could be any of the following: 

  • in-tray exercise

  • psychometric tests (second sitting)

  • written test

  • research task 

It is difficult to prepare for such tests as they are designed to assess your character, behaviour and attitude. However, websites such as 'JobTestPrep' are great for mock exercises. Just keep doing practice exercises to get you ready for these types of assessments!

FYI - in an 'in-tray' exercise, you will be given a scenario along with a set of tasks to complete such as responding to emails and reports. You will need to review the scenario and work through the tasks, prioritising the tasks accordingly and providing an explanation on how you have prioritised.