Career in Law-Blog

The Most Common Training Contract Interview Questions

Updated 3 March 2019

A training contract interview is probably one of the toughest interviews you will encounter. To maximize your chances of successfully passing the interview you will need to prepare yourself thoroughly. Here are the most common questions you are likely to encounter and how to answer training contract questions.

1. Motivations for a career in law
Remember firms invest a lot of money into trainee solicitors, so it is hardly surprising they will only invest in those who can demonstrate compelling motives and a genuine commitment to a career in law. In your answers, you will need to be clear exactly what has attracted you to being a solicitor and showcase relevant examples preferably from legal work experience. Also, be sure to know the core skills required by a commercial lawyer. This is our take on some common questions that may come up: 

  1. Why a solicitor and not a barrister
  2. How does the role of a solicitor differ from a barrister one
  3. What other professions have you considered and why you have not pursued it
  4. Why you want to be a commercial lawyer (particularly for non-law graduates)
  5. What it takes to become a successful commercial lawyer

2. Know your application
The training contract interview presents an opportunity for the firm to ask or clarify any points on your application but also for you to expand on your answers. If you know your application well enough question related to this should arguably be the easiest to answer. Do not leave out any sections in your application as you never know what topic may come up. Here are some questions that could come up:

  1. Why you have chosen this particular subject for your undergraduate degree
  2. What elective modules you have chosen to study and why?
  3. Tell us more about your part-time job whilst at university and how you managed it

3. Competence questions
Solicitors are required to be flexible and able to adapt to different situations. Competency-based questions are precisely designed to see how you react in certain situations and what skills you have to overcome such scenarios. We recommend when answering a competency-based to use the STAR technique, which is situation, task, activity, and result. Here are some questions that you may encounter:

  1. What do you consider your best skill is and gives an example when you have used it
  2. Tells us about a time you had to handle a difficult situation and how did you go about it
  3. Tell us about a time you had to work against a tight deadline, how did you go about it and what was the end result
  4. How do you deal when you disagree with something?
  5. Tell us about a time you had to work in a team, what was your role and what did you contribute

4. Be up to date to business news
Aside from being legal advisors, solicitors are also business advisors to their clients as they often advise on business impacts as a result of industry trends and changes. You will need to be prepared to discuss one or two recent trends or developments and you can keep up to date with this by following the firm's Linkedin page where often they post related articles. Below is our pick of questions you may be asked but do also take a look at The Corporate Law Academy comprehensive list.

  1. What is the most recent newspaper you have read and why
  2. What is your preferred way to follow the news
  3. Discuss recent new legislation of your choice and if is good or bad for business
  4. What are the current main challenges faced by commercial law firms
  5. Do you think AI will have any impact on the legal profession

5. Character & personality checks
As with any other jobs, law firms will only recruit trainees that they believe their character and personality will fit in with the firm's culture. These questions are about you as an individual, so there is not a great deal of preparation you can do other than preparing for some of the most common questions as set out below:

  1. How would your friends describe you
  2. What are your strengths and weaknesses
  3. What do you do at the weekends usually
  4. How often do you socialize?
  5. How much traveling have you done?

Conclusion

To summarise, you only need to focus on a few areas as noted above when preparing for the interview. If you prepare well enough and get them right it will not go unnoticed with the hiring partner. We would also highly recommend you check the forum at Glassdoor UK for further topical training contract interview questions.

What's the trickest training contract interview question you were asked? Please feel free to share it below and I will comment accordingly.

By:

Joe Simmons

Legal recruiter and blogger @purelegaljobs

Js@purelegaljobs.com

Related Articles:

Why corporate law interview question

Why do you want to be a solicitor?

Training contract interview advice