How to answer Jones Day interview questions

You’ll be expected to show an awareness of M&A.

If their initial application is successful, candidates will be invited to a first-round interview with two partners at Jones Day’s London offices. If successful in this, there will be a final-round interview with another two partners.

Below are a selection of past Jones Day interview questions, with advice on how to answer such questions.

Jones Day question: Why commercial law?

You should have covered this question briefly in your cover letter, so use this as an opportunity to elaborate. A good starting point would be to talk about any commercial law experience you have had, such as vacation schemes or open days. What did they teach you? What made you realise you would be suited to commercial law in particular? Have you had any work experience in other practice areas, and why didn’t you enjoy it?

A really impressive candidate will take this question a step further by speaking about Jones Day’s work in particular, including any cases that have sparked their interest. You should be able to talk about the general commercial issues surrounding these cases. It would be a good idea to demonstrate your awareness of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in your answer to this question: Jones Day has done more M&A than any other law firm since 2000, so your interviewers will expect you to have done some research in this area. Are there any particular M&A deals that have interested you? What’s your take on the recovery of the UK market over recent months? Complex international takeovers are often high profile, so there will be a lot of pressure and you may find yourself explaining detailed points of law from other countries to a room full of people – what makes you suited to this sort of thing? These are all things you could consider in your answer.

Jones Day question: Why Jones Day?

There is some cross-over between the previous question and this one, but this time you need to be more specific about why you want to practice commercial law at Jones Day in particular.

It’s important that you explain why you think you would be suited to Jones Day’s training programme. Its own literature acknowledges that trainees must have ‘nerve’ and ‘resourcefulness’ in order to succeed in finding their own work. In this sense, training at Jones Day might well be more difficult than training at any other City law firm – the particularly high salary reflects this. In your answer, acknowledge that you’re aware of the challenges the training contract presents and identify any past achievements that lead you to believe you could overcome these challenges; for example, have you got any experience of building and maintaining client relationships? If you do, and you did well, then this would indicate you’d have no problem getting repeat work from Jones Day clients.

You may also want to discuss the international nature of Jones Day’s work if you have any particular skills that you feel would be relevant, such as languages or any time spent living overseas. But unlike many of its competitors, Jones Day does not guarantee any international placements for its trainees, so this shouldn’t be your main reason for choosing the firm.

Jones Day question: What other careers have you considered?

Be sincere in your answer to this question – if you have thought about other careers, then it’s perfectly fine to say so as long as you can properly explain why you have decided to choose law above those other options. Similarly, if the truth is that you’ve always wanted to be a solicitor, then you need to have a good explanation for why this is. An answer such as ‘My father is a lawyer’ is not going to help you here – the question is testing whether or not you have made a considered career choice.

Ideally, any other careers you’ve considered will be related to law in their required skill sets – for example, consulting firms also require employees to have good communication skills, commercial awareness, and a client-friendly nature. Your examples might also come from industries that Jones Day works with – such as real estate. You need to show consistency; if your previous work experience has been at charities, banks, and construction firms then you will certainly need to be prepared to defend your change in career path.

Example answer: ‘I have done some work experience at a consulting firm, because I thought that my strengths in dealing with clients and my interest in business would be suited to that sort of career – however, I realised that I would be better suited to a career in law when….’

Jones Day question: What motivates you?

This question tests your self-awareness and whether or not you would be suited to, or would enjoy working at Jones Day. The question is not asking about your career goals and aspirations, but rather about what sort of things give you professional satisfaction.

At a basic level, think about what you enjoy doing – has there been a common theme in your extra-curricular activities or in your degree modules? What have you enjoyed doing in part-time jobs? What sort of tasks do you enjoy doing? Ideally, these interests will relate to the skills Jones Day is looking for. For example, the firm is looking for candidates who are capable of ‘juggling multiple tasks and deadlines’. When have you experienced this, and did you enjoy it? Why did you enjoy it?

Avoid answers like ‘I enjoy beating others’ – a certain level of competitiveness is always helpful, but Jones Day actively discourages over-zealous rivalry among its lawyers. It’s more important to the firm that you’re a team player. Do you enjoy motivating others?

Most importantly, be honest: if you give an answer such as ‘I am motivated by providing an excellent client service’, you’ll have to elaborate on why you enjoy doing that.

Unusual questions in Jones Day interviews

Suzanne Davis, a senior associate at Jones Day, revealed that partners at the firm do sometimes ask unusual questions in interviews. One example Suzanne gave was that she sometimes asks what they would do if a client asked them to destroy some documents. ‘It’s not only a question of coming up with a right answer, it’s more how you talk through the issue,’ she explains, ‘We’re interested in getting to grips with how your mind thinks through and around issues. The law is rarely black and white.’

The most important thing is that you don’t get flustered by the question. Jones Day interviewers have previously asked things such as ‘What do you do on Sunday mornings?’. The purpose of a question like this is to see whether you get confused or agitated easily – although they may also be trying to work out whether you are the sort of person they could work with. In any case, don’t be afraid to take a moment to think before you respond. Drink a sip of water if you have a glass in front of you. Speak clearly and calmly and ignore any awkward silences – you and you alone are in charge of your reply.

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