The Recruiter's Perspective: how to answer...
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28 September 2015 |
This isn"t an exhaustive list of the qualities we want to see on an application form or at an interview at Freshfields, and every firm will be looking for something slightly different. But without demonstrating these qualities as a minimum, a training contract may be hard to come by!
This is at the heart of what it means to be an effective solicitor. But what do recruiters really mean by this – well, it"s the ability to identify key issues, to explain concepts clearly, to think laterally, to argue and defend a point effectively, and to see both the big picture and the detail. Difficult to demonstrate on an application form? Not really – the Freshfields application form (with its 850-word personal statement) tests not only the content of your statement but also how it is assembled. Does your approach show a clear, logical mind? Are your reasons for commercial law not only convincing but also well put together. Are you not just smart, but smart in your delivery?
At Freshfields, we are testing for commercial interest rather than commercial knowledge or (the thing law firms are often supposed to be after) commercial awareness. The latter may come from ten minutes spent hurriedly with the FT before an interview. Commercial interest derives from a genuine curiosity in the commercial world around you – and we think that interest is difficult to fake. Have you ever thought about the way that organisations work and the concerns they have? Who runs them, and for whose benefit? How their activities are financed? How they measure success and failure? What constraints there are on their growth? Who, if anyone, regulates them? That"s commercial interest.
The people we recruit must be sensitive to those around them, able to relate to different people well, to form good relationships with clients and to adapt well to the firm"s ethos. So we are looking at your body language and eye contact. How do you describe your relations with others? How have your dealt with a difficult personal issue or what annoys you about other people? Through the (understandable!) interview nerves, can we see you developing the necessary self-confidence to win the trust of clients and colleagues? And, crucially, do you have a good sense of humour?!
Determination and Drive
We need people who can cope with the pace of life at Freshfields and the demands made of them by partners, clients, and commercial life. We need highly motivated people who will be able and willing to devote energy to their roles and cope with a variety of demands on different jobs with flexibility and commitment. So we want to know how much you pack into your life, how proactive you are (do you lead or take the initiative, or do you just turn up?), and how you overcome difficulties? What do you get out of your studies and activities? What are you looking for in a job and what energises you?
Organisation and Discipline
Freshfields lawyers must be organised in their approach to the massive deals and cases on which they will work; they need to be sure they have checked all relevant sources of information and that nothing is left to chance. So we are interested in how you organise your time. How do you prioritise between different activities? How do you know when you"ve done enough? We need to know that you can multi-task and that you can keep your cool.
This is not just about playing in teams or working in committees. We need people who are interested in the common good and not personal glory – who may be leaders, but who will look after the interests of other team players too. To what extent do you use "I" as opposed to "we"? Are you good at taking instructions and receiving feedback? Have you shown that you can get on with a range of people from different backgrounds?