The questions you’ll have to answer will give you the chance to prove your suitability to the firm, competency and general commercial awareness amongst other things.
It’s a good idea to think about training contract interview questions and answers beforehand. So read on for a few examples of typical questions for a training contract interview and how best to answer them!
Application-Related Interview Questions
1. Why do you want to be a [commercial] lawyer?
When answering this question, you should try to draw on your existing legal experience to support your reasons for wanting to pursue a career in law. Secondly, highlight a specific element of becoming a trainee or lawyer in the particular area of law that appeals to you and explain why.
2. Why do you want to train with us over our competitors?
Here, you want to research the firm and draw on experiences you have had at insight days or by reaching out to employees. This will highlight how you share the firms values.
There may also be schemes or initiatives the firm offer that you could mention, or milestones in legal tech you could mention that differentiate them from their competitors.
3. Where else have you applied? How are your other applications going?
Don’t be afraid to mention other firms you have applied to if a recruiter asks you this question. I was told at an insight day to try and name a firm I’ve applied to, particularly if they’re a direct competitor of the firm you’re interviewing with. This could increase your desirability as they won’t want a good candidate going to their competitors.
Remember, not to apply to too many firms as you’ll need to take your time on each training contract application to make sure it’s of a good standard. This could be worth mentioning in the interview too.
Law Firm-Related Questions
1. What do you know about the ways we engage our clients?
This is an important question as it will show whether you’ve done your research on the firm, therefore highlighting how committed and enthusiastic you are. It also gives an insight into your approach to client care, which firms really value.
Most firms will have unique practices, and information will be available on their website, along with what specialisms they offer their clients. Make sure you know this information inside out before your interview.
2. If you were a trainee with us, how would you get involved and make yourself stand out?
It would be a good idea to discuss how you are willing to try new experiences and meet new people and how you would foster an open and friendly working environment.
You could also mention social aspects of the firm you’d be interested in joining, such as sports teams or charity events. Moreover, you could talk about previous leadership skills you could bring to the firm and how this would help you to stand out.
1. Tell us about a time when you worked as a team
These type of questions require you to use the STAR method to answer the question if possible. Have a look at the example you could use to answer the question above.
Situation – I work part-time as a waitress and we often host large dinners and events of 100+ people.
Task – Once, the pre-orders for a large group of people went missing and we had to gather all of their orders as quickly and discreetly as possible, so they could continue to enjoy their evening.
Action – I helped divide the customers’ tables into sections and worked with my colleagues as a team to collate the orders quickly, communicating effectively to explain to customers what had happened without disrupting their evening.
Result – The customers received their food on time and gave us a great review and tip at the end of the service.
Commercial Awareness Questions
1. What do you see as the main challenges facing city law firms today?
Here, you could discuss how regional law firms are becoming more popular with clients and trainees, due to clients favouring firms in their own region if they are able to provide the same level of expertise.
For prospective trainees, regional firms are also beginning to offer the same opportunities and progression to rival city law firms.
2. Tell us about a recent legal story that you’ve been keeping up to date with, and how it has progressed
Questions relating to commercial news and awareness can be challenging due to constant developments. The best way to tackle this is by reading newspapers and the legal news daily.
You could set up news alerts on your phone or sign up to websites that send you emails with the latest headlines. Law firm websites will also contain relevant news too.
Before an interview, read a few relevant articles and make notes about certain points you could discuss with the interviewer. Try to avoid generalising where possible, as this can make it seem as if you just read the top headline that came up.