The Training Contract Interview

Apply now

We place great value on individuality and diversity. Our application process echoes this approach - we want to get to know you and the qualities you can bring to the role.

Our training contract interviews take the following format:

Written exercise

On arrival at our offices on the day of your interview you will be given a written exercise to complete. This written exercise requires no legal knowledge and you will not be expected to prepare in advance. 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 we will provide a laptop for you to type your answer. There is a lot of information to consider and we would encourage you to manage your time carefully to allow you to complete the task and review your work in the hour set.

Watch the video below from Azadeh Nassiri, one of our partners involved in trainee recruitment, for more insights into the written exercise.

Partner interview

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, commercial awareness and your motivations for applying to us.

The interview will be with two partners, or a partner and a senior counsel.

During the article discussion, the interviewers 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.

Points you may want to consider when reading the article include:

  • 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?
  • What may be the counter arguments to your position?
  • Are the arguments provided in the article coherent and logical?
  • Are there relevant issues which are not touched on or developed in the article?

Although discussion will centre around the subject and themes of the article, the interviewers may pursue any line of discussion whatsoever.  As part of this discussion, you should expect to be presented with questions which you have not considered before and which will require you to ‘think on your feet’. 

Watch the video below to see a mock article discussion which two partners conducted with one of our trainees. The video includes the full discussion with no editing, so it gives you a good insight into what this part of the interview involves, and how the discussion develops.

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 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.

Watch the video below from Ellie, one of our advisers in the Trainee Recruitment team, for more insights into the HR interview.

The Interview process video below will also give you a useful overview of the format and what to expect when you come to the firm.

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).

Our training contract interviews take place in person at our London office. If you are overseas, we can arrange for your interview to take place virtually instead.


We understand that attending an interview can be daunting. To help you prepare, we’ve put together the following short videos to give you an insight into what to expect when you come to an interview at our London office, and what the written exercise, article discussion and HR interview involve.  

The interview process

In the 'Written Exercise' video, Azadeh Nassiri – one of our partners involved in trainee recruitment - shares an insight into what this involves and what we are looking for, and talks through some of her top tips on completing the exercise.

In the ‘Article Discussion’ video, Robert Byk and Claire Cooke – two of our partners involved in trainee recruitment – firstly share an insight into what the article discussion involves and what we are looking for from candidates during this part of the interview, before conducting a mock article discussion with Tanyah, one of our trainee solicitors. The video also includes a feedback discussion at the end, where Tanyah, Claire and Robert discuss the interview (please note that the feedback discussion is not part of an actual interview).

In the ‘HR interview’ video, Ellie – one of our advisers in the Trainee Recruitment team – talks through what we are looking for in this interview, and how best to prepare for this.


Interview hints and tips

Before the interview
  • read your CV and cover letter carefully as the interviewers could ask you about anything you have included. For example, you could get asked about your dissertation/the modules you are taking as part of your degree course, about the political situation of a country you have visited, about the business model of an organisation you have worked at, about the most recent book you have read etc.
  • keep up to date with current affairs and think carefully about what you are reading. You may find it useful to read regularly the business pages of a broadsheet newspaper so you can develop commercial awareness
  • read about the firm, understand what makes us different and consider why this environment appeals to you. Identify a couple of deals that the firm has been involved in which might be of interest to you. Follow these deals and think about why they are interesting to you and what questions you have about them
  • if possible, book in for a practice interview with your university careers adviser before you begin training contract interviews
  • consider in advance your answers to commonly asked questions, such as "why law?" or "why this firm?"  Interviewers will expect you to have considered your answers to such questions but they will also try to take you 'off-piste' to see how you think on your feet
During the interview
  • be prepared to make small talk – this is an important skill and it will be useful when you are being guided to the interview room and once the interview is completed
  • listen to the questions carefully and answer the question that has actually been asked, not the one you wish you had been asked
  • be honest in your answers rather than saying what you think we want to hear
  • be prepared to be asked for your opinion and to be challenged on your opinion – it is not because you are wrong, whichever view you take you will be challenged. The partners want to see how well thought out your opinions are, whether you can defend them and if you can be persuasive
  • while you should be prepared to defend your views, you should also be prepared to adapt your view as necessary if flaws are identified which no longer make it a strong argument
  • consider the manner in which you voice and defend your opinion - you should adopt the same approach as if you were speaking to a client. Your arguments should be coherent and logical and you should present them confidently without being aggressive
  • try not to ramble. We are looking for lawyers who can articulate information in a clear, structured and concise manner
  • remember to ask questions at the end of the interview. Listen to the answers and consider follow-up questions

After your interview

If you are unsuccessful, we are happy to give personal feedback to help you with future interviews. However, please be aware that this can take longer to provide during peak interview seasons.

If you are successful, we will send you a training contract offer letter via email. This will include details of the funding for the Law Conversion Course (Post Graduate Diploma in Law - PGDL) (if applicable) and the City Consortium Solicitors Training Programme (‘CCP’)  and set out our expectations while you are studying these courses. For successful candidates, training contracts usually begin in either September or the following March. For those who wish to take time off beforehand, candidates can usually opt to defer their start date by one year – any time off must be taken before you begin the CCP.

We keep in regular contact with our future trainees and organise a number of social events and legal events (complementing the learning on the Law Conversion Course (PGDL) and CCP), with the aim to keep our future trainees well connected to the firm. Such events include (but are not limited to) our seat selection event, end of CCP celebration, and our festive event. We send out a regular newsletter with updates and news from the firm and, where possible, we also invite our future trainees to attend any events hosted by our ten employee networks. There are also some ad hoc opportunities to get involved with our volunteering projects, before joining the firm.


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 health condition.

If you require adjustments to be made to the interview process, please contact Grace Parkinson, Trainee Recruitment Operations Manager via email or on 020 7090 5324.

To ensure that no-one is prevented from attending an interview due to financial constraints, we will reimburse reasonable travelling expenses and we can provide these funds in advance if needed.

Recruitment Privacy Notice