Tips for a successful assessment centre


As the Howard Kennedy application deadline has now closed, it is now time for potential trainees to be preparing for the next stage: the assessment centre. Here are a few tips to focus on before the big day.

Remember it’s not The Apprentice

Of course assessors want to hear your opinions but they also want to see how well you work with others. You should be diplomatic not domineering, confident not cocky and assertive not aggressive.

Ultimately you will be assessed not just on your knowledge and skills, but on whether you are somebody they would like to work with. If you shout over others and use 'Apprentice-style' undermining tactics on the other candidates, even Lord Sugar wouldn’t want to hire you.

Research, research, research

This point cannot be overstated.

Do not just regurgitate what you have learnt off the firm’s homepage the night before. There are so many sources available there is no excuse for not finding out about the firm’s clients, practice areas and recent cases that have been reported in the press.

When it comes to explaining why you want to work at the firm you need to find something unique to say, not something that couldn’t be said about every firm or by every candidate.

Be yourself (well 99% yourself...)

There is no one ‘Howard Kennedy type.’ the firm is looking to recruit a diverse range of lawyers to reflect their diverse client base. The firm wants to see your personality and they are looking to hire a variety of trainees who can each contribute something unique.

Having said that, remember to be yourself, but yourself in a commercial context. They are looking to see what you will be like at work, so dress appropriately and act as you would when meeting a client for the first time.

Be friendly… To everyone

Don’t just focus on the people assessing you, but remember to be friendly to the other candidates and even the receptionist! Eventually, you will be sent out to meet clients and if you can’t show respect to people of all levels of seniority, this will reflect badly.

Be honest

You are not expected to know everything. If you don’t know the answer to something, explain how you would work the answer out and what commercial factors would be relevant to the problem. No firm wants to hire lawyers who bluff their way through life, it’s always better to be honest than pretend you know something you don't.

Finally… Have fun!

Try not to get too stressed. Think of it as an opportunity to meet some interesting people and get an insight into how a central London law firm operates. You will get to ask questions so think of some things you are genuinely interested in and want to learn more about.

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