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Interview: Tips & Advice

2016

"Know the firm inside and out – read the website and look them up in the legal journals and press. Know the firm's structure (international, regional, departments or sector focus etc) and any big deals that have completed – especially if you have an interest in a particular department."
Second year trainee, London
"The firm's application process consisted of various assessments and an interview with a partner. In terms of preparing for the assessment, find out the type of assessments being used and then find some online practice versions. The more you practise, the more prepared you'll be. For the interview, make sure you know the firm and what you want to get out of it. Most importantly, know yourself. The interview is a chance to sell yourself so make sure you have a lot of good examples to use. Also, take your time when answering questions. If you rush, you're more likely to forget something important or say the wrong thing."
First year trainee, Edinburgh
"It's key to prepare for competency-based questions. Have experiences that you can recount and be able to explain how they relate to key skills and attributes."
First year trainee, Aberdeen
"The best preparation for the interview would be to make sure that you know your application inside out and that you are familiar with the firm and what sets it apart from other firms."
First year trainee, Rio de Janeiro / London
"After the written application, the firm has a single assessment day where candidates who are unsuccessful in the morning tasks get asked to leave at lunchtime. The tasks consist of: a standard competency interview; a written exercise; an individual presentation; a group exercise followed by a presentation; and finally a partner interview. Successful candidates usually hear back within 48 hours or so. The only aspect you can really prepare for is the partner interview. There aren't any curve balls so just have a decent knowledge of the firm and recent deals and be ready to answer the run-of-the-mill questions."
First year trainee, London
"To best prepare for the interview, I would recommend reading up on the firm and current affairs as well as knowing your CV inside and out. The more comfortable you are with all of the above, the less stressed you will feel going into the interview."
First year trainee, Glasgow
"The interview process can feel lengthy but each exercise will test different skills. Come with well-prepared answers to competency questions for the grad rec interview and a thorough understanding of the firm and the market in which it operates for the partner interview."
First year trainee, London

2015

"You should do plenty of research and be aware of topical current affairs."
First year trainee, London
"To prepare for the interview you should read the news thoroughly, read up on the firm and especially on the sector group focus, be aware of some recent deals, use the firm's and graduate recruitment's website as much as possible and be yourself."
First year trainee, London
"You should research the firm, know what is happening in the business world and how that will impact on CMS and its clients. Be yourself in the interview."
Second year trainee, London
"For the vacation scheme there is an interview with HR and a written commercial awareness assessment. Then there is a group assessment and interview with a partner at the end of the scheme. Read up about the firm and the deals that they have been involved in, and know why you want to join."
First year trainee, London
"To prepare for the interview you should know the key strengths of the firm and learn about the sector-based approach."
First year trainee, London
"When applying you should have commercial awareness and know the firm and its culture as much as you can."
Second year trainee, London
"The assessment day involves an interview and a commercial awareness test. In the test do not just think about the maths, but more about the commercial and practical side to things. You then get to present your ideas/talk about them to a lawyer. After lunch you are told whether you have got through to the next round, and then there is another test which is a team problem, followed by a partner interview."
First year trainee, Bucharest
"You should understand how CMS is structured, and be aware of its sector-focused approach. Be commercially aware but remember to be yourself."
First year trainee, Munich
"Understand CMS' priorities - their client/sector focus and international reach in particular. Make sure you emphasise what makes CMS stand out from other firms with similar international reach."
First year trainee, Edinburgh

2014

"Be yourself throughout the interview process. CMS does not look for the stereotypical trainee so individuality is a plus. Obviously the usual preparations for an interview are necessary (know the firm, know current events, have examples of how you have shown you stand out from the rest...)"
First year trainee, London
"Try to learn one news story (preferably about a merger or the economy) in depth, so that you can quote figures. Practise answers to competency based questions, and try to get a good range of work experience."
Second year trainee, London
"Commercial awareness and client-focus are key. Know the main sectors in which the firm operates (for example Energy, Hotels & Leisure, Lifesciences, Consumer Products) and demonstrate a genuine understanding and interest in these areas. It is less about knowing all there is to know about corporate law or property law, and all the more to do with understanding the market in which law firms operate and a genuine interest in the work that you would be doing at the firm."
First year trainee, London
"Know a bit about the firm and what sets it apart. Our secondment opportunities are crucial - and when they roll around sometimes people don't seem keen to go abroad after all. If you are keen - let this show."
Second year trainee, london
"The summer placement was an excellent experience and a great way to get a traineeship."
First year trainee, Edinburgh
"Make sure you understand the firm's key strengths and how it is different from its competitors, as well as how the CMS network operates (i.e. CMS and CMS Cameron McKenna)."
Second year trainee, London
"Be ambitious and enthusiastic. Have a 'can-do' attitude!"
First year trainee, Edinburgh
"Be relaxed during the interview and treat it like a formal chat - the partners here like to get to know you."
Second year trainee, London
"Research the firm as much as possible. Know who we are, what we represent, our areas of work, the deals we're working on. Be concise, articulate and coherent in all your answers. Be confident and be yourself!"
First year trainee, London
"Swot up in advance on commercial questions and think of strong examples of each of the key competencies to support your CV. On the day, just be yourself and smile!"
Second year trainee, Bristol
"Show an interest in local expertise, but with the ambition and drive to fit into an international culture."
Second year trainee, Glasgow

2013

"Know why you want to apply for CMS over another firm. Be happy, enthusiastic, ask questions and show an interest in things other than just academia/work."
First year trainee, London
"Well-rounded applicants. Know your CV well and be able to talk about it with authority."
Second year trainee, CMS Cameron McKenna
"Friendly, down-to-earth people who are prepared to put in hard work. Research the firm and understand its focus, recent developments and its place within the wider network of CMS. At the interview: be yourself and be up-to-date with commercial news."
Second year trainee, London
"Our firm generally has a fantastic retention rate for trainees. This time was much tougher. Overall though the firm wants to keep its trainees and so tries to offer as many jobs as possible. For newly qualified positions, I do not think our firm recruits externally. For training contracts, there is an assessment day which is fairly tough but the firm lets you know the outcome of your interview very quickly."
Newly qualified solicitor, London
"High achieving and hard-working, but outgoing and friendly people who don't take themselves too seriously, no one arrogant."
First year trainee, London
"CMS look for people with personality and that 'fit'. I recommend working in the firm as a paralegal or in marketing, etc before joining as it gives you a real insight and something to talk about at interview. It also shows dedication. Be yourself and be relaxed and confident. If you get stuck on a question just be calm and ask if you can come back to it later. They want to see how you handle yourself in a predicament. Prepare by reading the news and knowing your CV and the typical 'why this firm' type of question."
First year trainee, London
"People who are willing to work as part of a team, and have the interpersonal skills to accomplish this. A strong academic record is a necessity, but it will not always be the deciding factor. Business awareness is crucial, and any outside experience which broadens a trainee's skill set is highly valued."
First year trainee, Edinburgh
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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