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Interview: Tips & Advice

2016

"There's an assessment day. Read the news and be aware of current affairs. Research, research, research."
First year trainee, London
"There’s an online critical thinking appraisal for those shortlisted after initial application review and, before being invited to a morning assessment centre, which includes a group exercise. If you're successful, you go through to interviews in the afternoon"
Second year trainee, London
"The firm is looking for people who not only have the brains but are also quite forward-looking and entrepreneurial. Candidates must be keen to learn and progress. Asking questions or not knowing the answer is not a weakness as long as you can demonstrate that you have thought through the possible answers yourself."
First year trainee, London
"Solicitors need to be practical and solution orientated. These are the skills you need to demonstrate in the interview."
Second year trainee, London
"A single assessment day: group exercise in the morning then multiple interviews with partners and associates for the applicants shortlisted following the morning session. Be confident and speak up if you have something to contribute – this is not a firm where people who prefer to sit quietly with their heads down will thrive. The associates and partners will not shoot down an erroneous suggestion rudely or try to put you off so don't worry about that. You are, however, expected to have thought through your points before you open your mouth and they will ask you to explain your reasoning. Keep in mind that this is a small office and a small trainee intake. We don't hire people that we wouldn't want to sit and have coffee with as everyone works closely with each other. You should be able to talk through your CV with confidence and have good explanations for any gaps or obvious issues (eg a bad grade in one subject). Most of the interview questions will be trying to give you opportunities to show that you have the key Cooley competencies (available on the website to look up in advance), or will be situational judgement questions. Sometimes the situation is set up so that you cannot succeed (eg the client is flying out in half an hour, there's a hard court filing deadline, you've lost the document, you can't redraft it and no one has a spare copy etc) and they are trying to see how you would deal with informing the necessary people and how you would mitigate the fallout."
Second year trainee, London
"Focus on the skills you have developed and how they will contribute to you being an effective trainee at Cooley. Have confidence and project self-assurance (without arrogance). Prepare scenarios for competency-based questions and ensure you make it clear how you developed from each situation. Make reading the Financial Times, Economist, The Week etc a habit early so that you are well prepared for any commercial awareness questions. Have an opinion but prepare to be challenged on it."
Second year trainee, London

2015

"The firm tries to recruit as much as possible through the vacation scheme (though in recent years only 1/3 of trainees have actually come through the scheme). The vacation scheme and training contract assessment days come in the same format. The morning consists of a group exercise (usually discussion of a business problem), followed by some written tests and a meet and greet session. After lunch, a proportion of the applicants are 'culled' and those left go through to interview in the afternoon. Whilst this seems harsh, I actually appreciated only having to attend the firm, and prepare, once. My best advice for the interview is to really focus on Cooley itself, and be yourself and relax."
Second year trainee, London
"You are invited to an assessment day at Cooley if your online application is successful; where you participate in a group activity that tests a wide range of skills, and some candidates are chosen to stay on for a two-partner interview in the afternoon. You also complete verbal and numerical reasoning tests on the day. Even if you aren't successful during the day the firm makes a great effort to give detailed feedback. My advice would be to focus on the skills you have developed through your work experience or other activities and how these will make you a great trainee. Skills are far more important to someone reading your application than the detailed particulars of what your job was. Preparation for the interview is absolutely key so think of as many answers to competency style questions as you can, know your CV inside out and make sure you're up to date with major news topics. Also be prepared to think creatively as you may have some unexpected questions that challenge you!"
First year trainee, London
"Following the application form there is an assessment day. The morning consists of a group exercise (usually discussing a non-legal business problem) and some numerical and verbal reasoning tests. There is a 'cull' halfway through the day, and those who have impressed the most go through to an interview with partners in the afternoon. Although that all sounds quite tough for one day, I really appreciated having it all over and done with, and only having to prepare, once. My tips would be to relax, be confident but not aggressive and be clear why you want to work at Cooley in particular."
Second year trainee, London
"There is an assessment day involving individual tests, a group exercise and a partner interview."
Second year trainee, London
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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