Hi I have a selection day coming up at CMS. Can anyone provide an insight into what is involved and details of the tasks/questions please? I have been asked to deliver a presentation. Assistance would be greatly appreciated. thanks
What do you have to deliver the presentation on?
What happened before the assessment centre - did you have a telephone interview, etc? How was it?
I had a VS interview for CMS too! I was interviewed by two women from HR who were extremely friendly, relaxed and open. They welcomed us into a room where I and about 12 other applicants spent the majority of the day. Half were non-law and the other half were law students.
We arrived at 1:30 and were given the verbal reasoning exam on paper at 2 pm. That lasted 30 minutes. Then we were brought back to the waiting room and given tea, coffee, water, and biscuits while we each waited to give our presentation to one of the interviewers in another room. I went first and used PowerPoint to present on my topic: where I would choose to spend a 6 month seat and why.
My interviewer said I did an excellent job and then proceeded to ask me general and expected questions, such as:
- how did you prepare for your presentation today?
- Why did you choose CMS?
- Why did you choose to do law after your business experience?
- Can you give me an example of a commercial issue tackled by our firm?
- What qualities do you have that you think will help you work for us?
I answered all of them in a confident manner and she always responded by saying, ‘Okay, good, thank you.’ Then she asked me if I had any questions.
After that I returned to the waiting room. All the applicants went on to do their presentations, so we were there for over 2 hours. Then a trainee took us around the building and assured us that she had nothing to do with the recruitment process and was just showing us around. I went home at 5:15. I got a call back the very next day.
They are pretty efficient!
I’d be interested to hear how it goes for you and if they’re changed it at all…
Hi mine is this week. Thanks for this. When was yours? I have already done an online verbal reasoning test - is there another one on top? thanks
I found these posts really helpful when I was preparing for the assessment centre I just had, so I thought I should give you my own account!
I did not do a vacation scheme with Cameron’s so this was a full length assessment day. It started at 9 and there were 8 candidates at the beginning of the day. After the initial introduction and admin we were split into two groups, one of which was to give a presentation and then sit the analytical test, with the other doing it the other way around. We had been given a choice of two presentation topics well in advance.
I did my presentation first. We had the equipment to use PowerPoint, which I did, but I didn’t bother with a handout. I presented to a single lady from graduate recruitment, who timed me with a stopwatch and scribbled furiously throughout.
Once that was over she asked me a series of follow-up questions. The last two (by her own admission) I had already answered in the presentation. They were:
- How did you choose your topic?
- How did you prepare for your presentation?
- Why do you think the issue you chose is significant?
- Who are the main stakeholders involved?
I just tried to add to points that I had made in the presentation when my answers overlapped.
She then asked me about my previous work experience and my motivation for a career in law, before launching into a series of competency-based questions. They were based around the same competencies as are tested in the application form, and were along the lines of:
- What is the most significant project/activity/event you have been in charge of managing? How did you carry it out?
- Tell me about an instance where you had conflicting deadlines to deal with.
- Tell me about a particularly challenging task/activity that you undertook, which required a lot of persistence. Why was it difficult? How did you work through it?
- Tell me about an instance when you have worked in a really high achieving team.
- Tell me about an instance in which you have encountered resistance from other team members, who were not supportive of the team task.
The questions were really detailed and I felt as though I was talking for ages in response to each one. The HR lady scribbled furiously. I would recommend taking a pen and pad with you into the interview, as I was not provided with one and it gave me piece of mind.
The interview was followed immediately by an analysis exercise, which lasted an hour. The scenario in the exercise involved one hedge fund buying another. We had to write a report on the acquisition that detailed the profit and performance of each office and then made recommendations for restructuring the combined firm. The maths was ultra basic (plus there were calculators) but the exercise felt very time-pressured.
We were then taken on a tour of the office with some trainees and had lunch with them. The trainees all left after the length of a normal lunch break and all the candidates sat around waiting for the HR people to come back. It wasn’t exactly relaxed, as we knew that they were marking our work over lunch and that at the end of the break we’d be told who had got through to the afternoon session. When the HR people came we were called into meeting rooms individually. I was asked how I thought the morning had gone and then invited to stay on. When I was taken into a room with the other candidates, there were only 4 of us left.
We then went straight on to do the group exercise. The task was to plan a conference together. We had to decide which clients would be invited and who would speak from our firm. There was 20 minutes’ reading time (we each had a different appendix with relevant information) and then 40 minutes to draw up a plan for the conference. It also felt pretty time-pressured.
After the exercise a partner came to fetch each of us for a one-on-one interview. My interview was pretty unstructured. The partner was interested in knowing my motivations for going into a career in law. He asked whether I could cope with menial hours and boring work. A lot of the interview was spent meandering around various commercial topics. He asked me what I had been reading about in the papers recently and then brought up three or four unrelated topics. Some of them were fairly legal in nature, which was a first for me as I have not studied law. My answers were not by any stretch technical.
After the interview I was free to leave. I got a call only 40 minutes later. The whole day was incredibly efficiently run.
Thanks lagarde your account of the day was really helpful! I have a training contract interview coming up. Were you successful in getting a training contract then? It sounds like a pretty intense day!
Just a quick question about the analysis exercise, was it very technical? Is there anything maybe you’d advise preparing for it?
Also with the competency interview questions, you said that they were similar to those assessed on the application. Did you use the same examples or different ones. I’ve heard that CMS like a lot of variation in their examples of competencies…
You’re welcome! I hope my response isn’t too late to be of help; I’ve been snowed under with GDL coursework. I did get an offer from them.
I wouldn’t say that the analysis exercise is very technical; nothing like as daunting as what you would get in an interview for a good consultancy, if that’s any help as a reference point. But using the kind of material you would to prepare for one of those helped me. To get you into the right frame of mind, you could have a look at Cosentino’s book Case In Point, or if you need to get back into looking at figures, try the information analysis sections in a Kogan Page graduate psychometric test workbook or numeracy test book. The actual exercise wasn’t as hard!
I used different competency examples from the ones on the application. I would make sure you can still talk about those if you get asked but they didn’t pick at my application at all. They seem to have a list of set questions they go through. The whole thing seems designed so that each candidate is tested and scored in pretty much the same way - I really liked the way the testing felt so metric-driven and comprehensive. It felt so much fairer than a single interview.
Actually they leave it a long time between telling you the assessment day and actually having it. I have yet to have it still! I just wondered what presentation questions you were asked as I have my two now and am a little stuck over which one to choose.
The first is to do with floating law firms on the stock market and the second is to do with how to improve cms’s client services. Did you have similar ones?
Oh right; I didn’t have to wait anything like as long.
My first question was different, asking you to pick a current commercial issue and draw out the implications for law firms.
I chose the first one because I could twist it towards my interests. I was a bit wary of the second because it required a good bit of knowledge about the firm and I thought I could end up speculating in the wrong direction about the current Cameron’s offering, or knowing less than the interviewer. In hindsight they probably weren’t expecting an intimate understanding of the firm from the inside, but the second question still strikes me as more difficult to research properly, although you could really shine if you answered it well.
Hope that helps!