Having recently been invited to and taken part in a Clifford Chance assessment day, I thought I’d write up my experiences for you guys!
Assessment day Format:
- Group Exercise,
- Lunch with trainees
- Verbal Reasoning Test
- Office tour
The whole process took about 4hr30 including a tour of the office and an informal light lunch with some trainees.
This took approximately 45 minutes with a Partner and an Associate, both asked questions throughout.
The interview mainly covered:
- Educational background, e.g:
- Why did you choose your course?
- Why did you choose your university?
- How did the work differ from your A levels to your degree modules?
Although they didn’t ask me outright, from some of their questions they also seemed to want me to explain why my weak marks were weak. I think honesty is probably the best policy, give reasons (e.g. got involved with too many extra-curricular activities in 1 st year, getting work-life balance wrong) not excuses.
- Motivation for law/business, understanding of what lawyers do commercial awareness, etc, e.g.:
- Why Clifford Chance?
- What do you see as the bad points of joining Clifford Chance?
- Why law?
- What do lawyers do/ what work do they carry out? (Had to be more specific than just saying “solving clients’ problems” e.g. due diligence, arranging loans, solving disputes, tax issues, IP issues etc.)
- What did you learn from your vacation placements?
- What’s the difference between your vacation scheme firms and Clifford Chance?
- Do you follow the business press? / What’s caught your eye recently?
I mentioned M&S (relevant at the time), and they then asked a few more challenging questions building on my answer each time e.g. what do you think M&S should do? Should Philip Green try another takeover bid?
- Extra-curricular activities/ positions of responsibility where they were clearly looking for me to evidence several key skills such as commitment, teamwork, communication ([[competency based questions|competency questions]] etc:
- What did you do?
- How did you develop a project?
- What complex issues did you overcome?
- What was your aim?
- Give an example of teamwork.
During the interview they gave me a mini case study (about A4 side) to read and make notes on in about 2 minutes (they were fairly relaxed about time, waited for me to start when I was ready). It was fairly basic, involved a manufacturing company that made motors for kitchen appliances. The company was having problems with its manufacturing processes and was listed on the stock exchange. I had to discuss the implications of these problems on the business e.g. affect on share price, whether to tell shareholders, relationship with its buyers and suppliers etc. They let me talk until I basically ran out of steam then they asked me a few questions to encourage me to discuss the relevant issues I had missed.
5 people split into 2 teams. 15 minutes to read a 15 page case study involving a company considering its options for expansion. One team had to argue for one strategy and the other team had to argue for another strategy. We had 15 minutes to discuss and prioritise the key issues and formulate an argument then we were put back together as a group of 5 to argue our cases and reach a decision.
- Prioritise issues
- Be active; don’t need to lead but need to be a contributor.
- Stand up for yourself/ your points, but don’t be argumentative. Know when to compromise or back down.
- Listen to/ encourage other people to speak
- Be polite and friendly to everyone
- Remember, you’re working as a team
- Some surprise info was given to us halfway through the exercise; I think here it was important not to panic and to show an ability to adapt.
- Keep an eye on the time
- Reach a conclusion! (One strategy was clearly better than the other.)
For both the interview and the exercise, my body language was commented on in my feedback so make sure it’s positive!
‘’‘Verbal Reasoning Test’’’
- 35 questions in 35 minutes.
- Remember to wear a watch!
- Massive time pressure (several people in the group didn’t finish).
- Not negatively marked
The sample test that is sent to you upon invitation to interview is representative of the difficulty of the test. I found I had just about enough time to read each passage twice, typically there were 3-4 questions to answer per passage of writing.
I would say you can’t prepare for this part of the assessment other than doing as many practice tests as you can, e.g. [[verbal reasoning|verbal reasoning test]] and [[numerical reasoning|numerical reasoning test]].