The interview

We believe that the qualities we are looking for in trainees are best assessed through an interview.

Our interviews take the following format:

  • a written exercise
  • an interview with two partners
  • a chat and tour of the office with a current trainee
  • a short HR interview

Written exercise

On arrival at our offices on the day of your interview you will be given a written exercise. You will not be expected to prepare in advance but we hope that the following will give you a good idea of what to expect.

The written exercise is based around a fictional business. The business is likely to have been in existence for some years, and is going through a strategic review process.  There will be various pieces of information provided, for example, an internal memo, some statistics and a newspaper article.  These may consist of 5 or 6 pages of reading. Your task will be to write your own report once you have assimilated the information and facts provided.  Clear instructions will be given about what is expected and your report will be assessed for:

  • written communication
  • ability to persuade
  • judgement and problem analysis
  • innovative ideas and commercial knowledge

You will be given one hour to complete this exercise and have the option of writing or typing your answer.  There is a lot of information to read in this hour, so we would encourage you to manage your time carefully to allow you to complete the task.


Once the written exercise has been completed, candidates will be given a short current affairs article to read for approximately 15 minutes. You will be able to take notes during this time and take both the article and your notes into the interview with you. This article will then form part of the discussion in the interview, along with questions relating to your CV. The partners will be testing whether you can assimilate information quickly, identify the relevant issues and articulate and defend your point of view. They will be looking to you to summarise the main points of the article, to form an opinion on the subject matter and to have a sensible debate on the issues raised. This is not designed to be a comprehension test or a test to discover your political leanings or beliefs, but you should expect to be challenged on your views and should not be afraid to defend them.

Some example questions that the partners may ask you during the article discussion are:

  • Can you summarise the key issues raised in the article?
  • What are the main themes, arguments and conclusion (if any)?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the arguments put and the position taken in the article and why?
  • Are the arguments provided in the article coherent and logical?
  • Are there relevant issues which are not touched on or developed in the article?

Chat and tour with a current trainee

The interview with the partners will last approximately 40-60 minutes and, following this, one of our current trainees will give you a tour of the office.

We believe that the interview should be a two-way process. It is important for you to ensure that we are the right firm for you. The trainee will not have been prepped on what to say and they will not be reporting to us, so you should take advantage of this opportunity to question them about life as a trainee at the firm.

HR interview

Our interview process ends with a short meeting with a member of the Trainee Recruitment Team. You will be asked to reflect on the written exercise and your interview with the partners, and there will be some discussion about your CV and your motivation for applying to us. You will also have the opportunity to ask any questions we have not yet answered for you.

We normally find that the whole exercise takes approximately three hours. You will be required to bring with you a valid form of photo ID (passport or driving licence.)

Slaughter and May is committed to ensuring that our recruitment processes are barrier-free and as inclusive as possible to everyone. This includes making adjustments for people who have a disability or long-term condition. If you have any questions, or would like to discuss any adjustments you may need to any part of the process described above or for your visit to the office please contact Janine Arnold, Senior Manager, Trainee Recruitment, via email or on 020 7090 5049.

For all other application, interview or general queries, please contact the Trainee Recruitment Team via email or on 020 7090 4454.

Sarah Lee and Robert Byk on the interview

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