Interview: Tips & Advice

2017

"My biggest tip would be to make sure your individuality shines through in your application. Try to be original and put some interesting points in – this then really helps at interview too because your interviewer will be interested in what you wrote."
First year trainee, Exeter/Tiverton
"The interview process consisted of a written exercise, group exercise and then an interview."
Second year trainee, Exeter
"I completed an application form and CV, then received an invitation to the assessment day. This meant I had all my interviews and assessments in one day to secure the training contract. My tips and advice would be: be honest, really demonstrate your interests on the application form and what experience you have undertaken leading up to applying for the training contract. Explain how each experience has helped you and what skills you developed as well as why it made you realise you wanted to study that particular area of law."
First year trainee, Exeter
"Research the firm and keep up to date on current issues to help with commercial awareness and business acumen."
Newly qualified solicitor, Taunton, Somerset
"There was an application form and an assessment centre consisting of a group exercise, a presentation, a written exercise and a partner/HR interview. Ashfords is very people-focused so be yourself and show what unique qualities you can bring to the firm."
Second year trainee, Exeter
"There is an online application and successful candidates are then invited to an assessment centre. My assessment centre consisted of a group exercise, presentation, written exercise and an individual interview. The best possible tip is to be yourself. If you've got to the assessment centre then you're good on paper so HR and the associates/partners who observe and interview you want to see if they would like to work with you. Ultimately, they are looking for someone who is a good fit for the firm."
First year trainee, Bristol
"There's a pretty standard assessment process consisting of a long-form application with competency questions. The assessment day was relaxed and welcoming with the usual group and individual assessments followed by an interview conducted by someone from HR with a partner sitting in."
First year trainee, Bristol
"I had a four-day vacation scheme and, on the final day, I had my training contract interview. The interview consisted of a written task, interview with a partner and HR adviser and a group task. We then finished the day with a networking lunch. I think it's really important to feel comfortable and get to know the firm well before the interview. It's always quite daunting but the firm is really friendly. Another tip would be to be yourself and think out of the box for different answers to interview questions."
First year trainee, Exeter
"There was an application form, an assessment day and a partner interview. The firm generally likes candidates who can show that they are rounded and committed to the firm."
Second year trainee, Bristol
"Proofread your application and provide examples of EVERYTHING to back up what you're saying about yourself. Don't rely on your paralegal or legal work experience alone. Show a broad range of experiences and competencies (if you play a musical instrument, tell them). Be prepared to answer competency-based questions and go prepared with examples from a very broad range of experiences. Ashfords seems to gravitate more towards 'rounded' individuals as opposed to academic types who have no life experience."
First year trainee, Taunton

2016

"There is a paper application (the usual CV plus competency-based questions). There will also be a verbal reasoning element of the application process commencing soon. If successful at these stages, candidates are invited to attend an assessment day. This consists of a group exercise designed to test teamworking abilities, a presentation and an interview with a partner. The interview questions are generally competency based and candidates who are successful usually provide practical answers to these questions, rather than theoretic or academic. Preparation for the interview should consist of reading through the firm's description of an ideal trainee candidate and picking out qualities and examples of where these have been demonstrated by the candidate."
First year trainee, Bristol
"Vacation scheme and assessment day. I would recommend knowing plenty about the firm and its work."
First year trainee, Exeter
"An online application form followed by an assessment centre. The assessment centre consists of a group exercise, a presentation, a written exercise and a traditional interview. There is then some 'informal' networking at the end, although how informal this is I'm not sure. It's a long day, so make sure you get a good night's sleep beforehand."
First year trainee, Exeter
"My main piece of advice would be to research the firm well. You need to know about the kind of work we offer and our different offices. The training contracts are now location based, so know why you want to work in a particular location and about the work that that office does."
Second year trainee, London
"Really get to know the firm. The sectors it operates in, its practice areas, its size in comparison with other firms etc."
First year trainee, Bristol
"Apply for the vac scheme; it's a week long, with time spent in two departments. There is an assessment day and interview on the final day. It always provides greater opportunity for impressing and securing a training contract."
Second year trainee, Exeter
"Application form, vacation scheme, assessment day (written exercise; large group exercise; smaller group exercise; and interview). However, the application process may have changed since I applied and was assessed."
Second year trainee, Exeter
"Read up on the firm and keep up to date with current events to use in your application and interview. Recent news about the firm really helped in the written assessment I undertook at the assessment day."
First year trainee, Taunton - Somerset
"There is an initial application followed by an assessment centre. Get some good work experience, get to know the key aspects of the firm and, along with working hard, have a good balance of other interests."
First year trainee, Taunton
"An application form must be completed. Successful candidates must then attend an assessment day which consists of a written test, group exercise, presentation and interview. Ashfords like well-rounded people who have a lot of extracurricular activities under their belts. To best prepare for interview, ensure that you have drawn up a list of things you have been involved in such as part time jobs and the skills that you have learned from them."
First year trainee, Exeter

2015

"Get work experience during summer holidays at university so that you have some interesting examples to draw upon in your personal interview. The Ashfords group exercise involves a hypothetical business scenario which is designed to draw you out. There are no correct answers bar common sense. Candidates need to make sure they speak up and have something meaningful to say."
First year trainee, Exeter
"The process is an application followed by an assessment day which includes a written test, group exercise and an interview. I would encourage people to apply for a vacation scheme if they are able to, as this is the best chance they will have to demonstrate themselves and of course also gives candidates the opportunity to see what the firm is really like. This will help with the decision-making process if a candidate is lucky enough to receive multiple training contract offers."
First year trainee, Bristol
"Applicants can either apply for a vacation scheme, which includes an assessment centre on the last day of the week of work experience, or just apply for an assessment centre. The assessment centre usually consists of a group activity with some form of presentation and then one-to-one interviews. I would advise applicants to have examples of when they have displayed key competencies to hand, so that the interview flows and becomes conversational rather than trying to think of your examples on the spot."
Second year trainee, Exeter
"When preparing for the interview you should consider your strengths and weaknesses, when you have demonstrated these strengths, and what you can do to address your weaknesses. Also read up on recent legal news."
First year trainee, Exeter
"The application process consists of an application form followed by an assessment day, comprising of a group task, a written task and an interview. My top tip for preparing for the interview would be to ensure that you have a variety of examples to use to demonstrate the key competencies, and for the group and written task to ensure you approach it from a commercial point of view."
First year trainee, Exeter

2014

"Consider the various competencies you might be asked to show and have examples prepared so you are not caught off guard. Make sure you have a different example for each one. When it comes to the group exercise, try to stand out and speak up but don't overpower the group and talk over other candidates."
First year trainee, Exeter
"Think of plenty of examples for the competency-based questions. Speak up wherever possible in the group exercise."
First year trainee, Exeter
"Know your application - what did you write and why? Know the firm - research Ashfords and find out what has been happening recently. Be yourself."
First year trainee, Exeter and Plymouth
"Be yourself - make sure you listen and give others the chance to contribute in the team exercise."
Second year trainee, Exeter
Our 'Inside Buzz' reviews are the comments and views of recent graduate recruits, giving you a view of what it may be like to work for an organisation. Copyright of all TARGETjobs Inside Buzz material lies solely with GTI Media.
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