Your training contract interview is likely to involve three stages:
1. A telephone training contract interview. This is typically the first of the three stages. A telephone interview gives recruiters an opportunity to assess whether or not to invite you to a more formal and in-depth face-to-face training contract interview. See our dedicated page for tips on training contract telephone interviews.
2. Training contract video interview questions. Often used as an alternative to a telephone interview or as a second stage interview following a telephone interview, video interviews are conducted using video apps such as Google Meets, Zoom or Skype.
Training contract video interview questions are often asked by a law firm’s graduate recruitment team or solicitors at the firm. See our dedicated page for tips on answering training contract video interview questions.
3. Face-to-face interviews. Face-to-face interviews are often the final stage of the training contract interview process. This interview is usually the most in-depth and some of the most senior solicitors could be in attendance. See our dedicated page for tips on face-to-face training contract interviews.
There are many things you can do to prepare for a training contract interview that apply to every law firm you have an interview with. Arguably the most important is to research each law firm, getting to know their areas of legal practice. A sound knowledge of the law firm(s) with which you have an interview, will help you answer several of the questions asked of you.
You should also pick a commercial awareness topic relevant to the law firm that your interview is with. Make sure you keep up to date with current affairs ahead of your training contract interview, and review your application to refresh your memory of what you said.
To stay on top of commercial headlines and build your commercial awareness take a look at our CA newsletter.
One of the most practical ways to prepare is to practice. Ask family and friends to quiz you with potential training contract interview questions. It might help to record yourself in case you have to face training contract video interview questions rather than a telephone or face-to-face interview. The best thing you can do is keep researching and keep practising.
Every law firm has a different approach to training contract interviews, but most will ask similar questions, giving you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the firm, current affairs and why you want to be a lawyer, among other things. Some of the most common training contract interview questions and answers include:
This question is often asked as part of a training contract application, so your answer in the interview should reflect what is on your application. When answering this question, it’s important to note that every law firm wants to be your first choice. As a minimum, you must be able to demonstrate why a law firm stands out from the rest.
Whether you are interviewing for an in-house contract or private practice, this question is likely to be asked. Research is important, so ahead of your interview, read up on the firm’s cultures, values and their local, national and international presence. Firms will want these to be major factors in your reason for choosing them.
Firms are looking for candidates who are not only technically competent, but fit their culture. You need to be able to demonstrate an interest and passion in a firm’s specific area of legal practice.
This question is typically asked to establish if there is a pattern in your applications. For example, have you applied to firms that all specialise in commercial law. If you are asked this question, the best way to answer is by speaking about all of the common attributes that each of the firms share.
You can mention the other firms that you have applied to, as this could increase a law firm’s desire to hire you – especially if one of the other firms you have applied to is a competitor.
This is another question that is likely to have appeared on a training contract application form, so your answer should reflect what you wrote in your application.
You will need to demonstrate your interest in a specific area of law by drawing on real-life experiences that directly reflect why you have chosen your particular career path, and more importantly, a specific legal practice.
Give examples of where you have gone above and beyond to solve a problem, using your work experience, your education or personal life as a reference.
This question is asked to assess whether you have kept up with legal developments in the news. It’s important that you stay engaged in legal developments ahead of your training contract interview, and you can do this by tuning into news sites, setting up email alerts from legal publications and more.
Before your interview, read the latest, relevant news stories and make a note of a few points of interest. During your interview, make sure you mention the specifics of any legal developments, why they interest you and why they are relevant to the law firm you are interviewing with.
This question is asked to determine the levels you will go to for a law firm to immerse yourself in its culture – and not just in the workplace. Firms want to see that you are enthusiastic about getting involved socially and that you can help contribute to a friendly working atmosphere.
If you can demonstrate a time when you have shown true leadership skills, this could be worth mentioning because it shows that you are willing to take the initiative and hit the ground running.
This is not a question signalling the end of your interview. Answering ‘no’ will not make a good impression.
Firms expect you to come to your training contract interview with questions. However, you should avoid asking questions like ‘what is the salary?’
Instead, you should use this part of the interview to demonstrate your knowledge of a law firm by asking questions about recent deals they have done.
Alternatively, you could ask questions about the person interviewing you – provided you have done your research on the company website or any LinkedIn profiles they might have.
The interests of the law firm or your interviewer are a good starting point for asking questions and help you to build a solid rapport. Avoid asking generic questions about the working hours and company benefits as these are unlikely to impress.
How have you had to adapt since the recent merger? If a law firm you have applied to has just gone through a merger, asking this question demonstrates that you have taken an interest in news stories associated with the firm.
What do you enjoy most about working for this firm? Asking interviewers this question shows that you are interested in the day-to-day operations of a firm and that you are thinking about how you would fit in.
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 solicitor, 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 involved in cases straight away.
Hilda-Georgina Kwafo-Akoto was a trainee solicitor with Bristows LLP, and is currently an associate solicitor at Fladgate LLP. She recalls her training contract interview and offers some top tips:
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?
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.
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.
You should follow-up your interview with an email thanking the interviewers for their time and asking any further questions that came to you after your interview. This will help to keep your name ‘top of mind’ with interviewers when making their final decisions, and demonstrates that you are serious about your application.
Loading More Content