Assessment Centre Guide

Getting to an assessment centre is the exciting next step to getting a VS or TC, but it can feel really daunting. There are four main types of exercises that firms commonly get you to do and certain things that they are assessing you on in them.

Written Exercise

What are they looking for?

  • Your ability to understand a brief
  • The quality of your written English (punctuation, spelling and grammar)
  • Time management

Written exercises can vary, but generally you will be given information on something to read and instructions on what to do with the information. It generally is nothing too complicated, you just need to make sure you manage your time well to ensure that you have managed to take in all the information given whilst still leaving enough to time to complete and type up the task. The best preparation for this is to practise reading and comprehending texts and summarising long points or paragraphs concisely to demonstrate a point succinctly. If you’re worried about your time management, start with using  1/3 of your time to read the instructions and information,  1/3 to type it up, and then 1/3 to review. (These are general things – if you have a lot of information to read you may want to allocate more time for it, likewise if your brief requires you to write a lot you may want to put more time into that. It’s about showing you can see what each task needs you to focus on).


Contract/case exercise

What are they looking for?

  • Your ability to process information quickly
  • Your commercial awareness
  • Your use of logic to assess scenarios and find reasonable solutions

This type of exercise varies from firm to firm. Some firms will give you a case study which you need to analyse and draw out important points from in answer to some questions they may ask you once you’ve had time to read it. Other firms will give you a contract (this is what I had) and ask you to read it, and then question you on what you’ve understood. This can be hard to prepare for but generally a good standing in understanding how commercial law works (for example, how a transaction functions or how businesses are involved in law) is good preparation for anticipating the kind of questions you will be asked. You can read a detailed post on how to handle case studies here.


Group exercise

What are they looking for?

  • Your ability to work in a team
  • How well you can get your point across
  • Your commercial awareness!

Firms employ a wide range of group exercises from team-building activities to practical tasks to group case exercises. Whatever the task, make sure you remember that your commercial awareness skills can undoubtably fit into it. This doesn’t mean you need to bring lots of prior knowledge to it, but it does mean that the more you can show your understanding of law and business issues the better you will come across. It is also important to interact well with the people in your group – be sensitive to the fact that you don’t want to come across as the person always talking over people whilst making sure you get the chance to say your fair share. Group interviews can be the most daunting – especially when you don’t know what the other candidates will be like. Just focus on listening to what other people say, and making sure you justify and defend your points. If you are aware that other people aren’t saying much, try and bring them into the conversation or task. Good leaders and contributors are those who can help make the whole group productive. This is the exercise where you want to strike a balance so you don’t come across as too dominant and bolshy and be labelled as rude, nor do you want to be too quiet and not say enough for the firm to assess you on.


Individual interview

What are they looking for?

  • Evidence that you understand the firm, the kind of work it does and its values/culture
  • The skills that you can bring to the firm and that are needed to be a lawyer
  • Your understanding of commercial law, and up to date knowledge of current affairs

Generally your individual interview will be with between one to two supervising associates or partners of the firm. Some firms incorporate this with the contract/case study exercise, so part of this interview is spent checking your understanding and comprehension of legal terms and concepts based on what you have just read. In order to prep for the personal interview questions, you need to make sure you know your CV really well and that you are full of examples about the skills you have acquired and how these will help you as a lawyer.


Final Tips

  1. Make sure you arrive about 15 minutes early for your assessment centre – latecomers will be noticed, for the wrong reasons!
  1. Wear your best smart clothes – I always find it helps when you look and feel the part and don’t have to worry about feeling underdressed!
  1. Remember you’re being watched throughout the day – remain smiley, friendly, inquisitive and interested in the firm but also everyone you meet – whether that’s another candidate or someone who already works there.

Try and enjoy the day as best as you can. Get a feel for the firm and whether you could really see yourself working there, and make the most of the opportunity to ask questions and get to know people. Regardless of whether this assessment centre leads to anything further, it is great practice and experience and can help you prepare better for your next AC or interview.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s