A training contract interview can be a nerve-wracking event. That’s why knowing what to expect is vital to boosting your confidence ahead of the day. Use this page to guide you through the different types of assessments you may be invited to attend – whether they’re online
or face-to-face interviews
Types of Training Contract Interviews
There are three main types of training contract interviews:
- Telephone Interview. Usually the first of several stages, it allows recruiters to assess whether or not to invite you in for a more formal and thorough face-to-face interview. See our tips for training contract telephone interviews. Read our tips for training contract telephone interviews.
- Video Interview. Often conducted via Skype, FaceTime or a similar app with the graduate recruitment team and/or solicitors at the firm. Check out these tips for training contract video interviews.
- Face to Face Interviews. Likely to be the final interview you will have before a decision is made. Read our tips for training contract face-to-face interviews.
Training Contract Interview Questions
Knowing the types of training contract interview questions you’re likely to be asked will help you to prepare ahead of the big day. There are generally five different types of questions:
- General questions such as: Why do you want to work for us?
- Application questions such as: Can you tell us a bit more about your undergraduate degree and why you chose to study it?
- Law firm-specific questions such as: Who are our main clients?
- Competency questions such as: Tell us about a time when you overcame a difficult situation, and what actions you took to do so.
- Commercial awareness questions such as: Who do you see as our main competitors?
Training Contract Interview Questions to Ask
At the end of your training contract interview, you’ll probably be asked if you have any questions yourself.
It’s not easy thinking of questions to ask on the spot. However, if you’ve done enough research into the firms you’re applying to, you should have a good amount of information to refer to for potential questions to ask your interviewees.
Good training contract interview questions to ask include:
- How have you had to adapt since the recent merger? This kind of question will show that you’ve been paying attention to news regarding the law firm.
- What do you enjoy most about working at this firm? This question demonstrates your interest in the day to day life of working at the firm and shows that you’re thinking about how you’d fit in there.
- How did you end up in your practice area and how does it differ from your original choice of specialism? Asking this shows your interest in the career route of the person you’re being interviewed by and implies that it’s something you aspire to replicate in your own career.
- As a trainee, how long would it take me to get to the stage where I could have contact with clients? Asking this shows your willingness to get stuck into cases straight away.
What to Do After Your Training Contract Interview
It’s important to follow up after your training contract interview just like with any other job assessment.
Writing a short email thanking the interviewers for their time and even sending a further question or two will show your potential employer that you’re serious about your application. This will make them more inclined to remember you when they’re going through the final selection process.
Training Contract Interview Tips
Hilda-Georgina Kwafo-Akoto is a Trainee Solicitor at Bristows LLP. She gave us her top training contract interview tips:
1. Do Your Research
- Read our guide on commercial awareness to understand how you can demonstrate a solid level of knowledge to your target firm when answering relevant questions.
- Find out who will be interviewing you and look them up. If the firm’s solicitors will be involved in the interview process, try to find out what kind of law they practice, their history with the firm and level of seniority. Make sure you’re also up to date on any of their recent involvement in cases.
- Ask your friends applying to similar firms about their experiences, what questions they were asked, and if there were any difficult ones to look out for.
- Research the firm’s interview style. Some have a reputation for the way they approach their interviews, and you don’t want to be caught out by unusual training contract interview questions (for example, if you could meet three people dead or alive, who would they be?
2. Express Yourself Well
- Practise giving examples of your own personal experiences which demonstrate teamwork and problem-solving skills, resilience and perseverance.
- Rehearse explaining why you want to be a solicitor, avoiding cliches like “ever since I was a child, I’ve dreamed of being a lawyer”. These types of responses are overused and are unlikely to inspire the reaction you’re looking for.
- Practise speaking eloquently about relevant legal cases in the sector relevant to the law firm.
- If you’re stuck, take a moment to collect your thoughts so that you can express yourself clearly and engage your interviewer(s).
- Speak clearly and at a good pace – good communication skills are key attributes of a successful lawyer.
- Use formal language which reflects the context of the interview, instead of colloquialisms and idioms.
Visit our commercial awareness example questions page for some questions to prepare you for your commercial awareness law firm interview.
3. Come Prepared
- Prepare some answers to potential interview questions beforehand.
- Remember one word for each answer you prepare instead of memorising the answer entirely. This way, as you respond to the questions, your answers will have a natural structure instead of sounding rehearsed.
- Remember that interviews are a really good way for you to get to know a firm better too. For example, if you’re feeling uncomfortable and unable to answer certain questions, this might mean that the firm isn’t a very good match for you.
- Conversely, if you’re most comfortable at a certain interview, that may be a good indicator that the firm is right for you.
- If you’re asked to prepare a presentation, bring notes rather than a script to read from.