Sarah: "What we’re looking for when we’re asking our questions is for the people who can give clear, structured, focused answers. Communication is a key skill in what we’re looking for. So, what we’re looking for are people who can be very focused and very precise in the way in which they present themselves and how they articulate why they want to come to Slaughter and May and why they want to be a lawyer."
Robert: "And I think in an interview you shouldn’t be scared of, you know, some pause before you answer questions. You can take some time to formulate the points that you want to make and think about how you are going to put them. Equally, there’s no need to give all the information you have in your mind just in one answer. We do sometimes find interviews where the applicant is so desperate to give us information that actually they’re not really focusing on what we’re asking them. And that’s the key: focus on what’s being asked – give clear, interesting answers to that."
Sarah: "And be yourself, I think that’s important. We’re looking for people who… we want to know who you are and we are genuinely interested in you as an individual. I think it’s very much about being yourself and being honest about who you are."
Robert: "And I think the important thing as well is, you know, an interview is as much us finding out about you but it’s also you finding out about us. You know, would you think that you would fit here in terms of working in this firm? You want to find out what the firm is like, how we operate. You have a fairly short period of time to do that, but it’s a very important part of the process for you to find out about us."
"I think the application process here is very refreshing and straightforward when compared with other firms. It’s really just a cover letter and cv. There’s less of a focus on specific questions and application forms and it’s really left to you to present your best case as to why you should be interviewed or why you would be a good candidate to work here."
"I really don’t think any of the general interview spiel would get you anywhere. The words that you usually think an interviewer wants to hear and the phrases that they want to hear from you, a partner here is going to see through that in two seconds. The interview was actually a far more pleasant experience than I expected – because you expect an interview to be absolutely terrifying and to really put you on the spot. But again, the interview really felt like they were just trying to get to know me and, where questions made me feel a bit uncomfortable, I got the sense that they were asking those questions more to find out how I would react to those questions and how I would react to pressure rather than very strict commercial knowledge questions that they want you to actually know the answer to."
"I would say, firstly, just be yourself because there is no Slaughter and May type. And if you’re someone who will fit in well at the firm – if you are intelligent and ambitious and willing to work hard – but also want to be in an environment where you’ll be trained very well and be treated with respect and in a very collegiate, friendly atmosphere, then apply."
"My interview here… I was excited to have got the interview, but I must admit to being a little bit nervous - you’re sitting there with two partners without anywhere to hide. I arrived here and I was greeted by some friendly staff and I kind of relaxed a little bit, had a coffee - which was maybe not the best idea. So I went in nervous but I soon relaxed because you could tell the partners wanted me to be at ease - they wanted me to show the best, the best that I had to give, so I was relaxed. It was in a formal setting with two partners obviously but it was a nice atmosphere and I felt like I was being tested, but not in an aggressive manner, they were just sort of picking at me, trying to find out how my brain worked and whether I’d be suitable to work here. The questions they asked me were quite random actually and they sort of went off on tangents as and when they decided to, just to see I think, how I could formulate answers and how I could defend answers and how I could form reasoned opinions. I think that’s what they’re looking for; someone who can just think on their feet a little bit, form an answer and then be able to defend it without crumbling under… I wouldn’t say huge pressure but some intense questioning."
"My interview process worked a bit differently because I was overseas at the time I interviewed, so my first interview was in the US by video link and it was around the time of the primaries for the US elections where Obama was elected, so we spent a lot of time talking about politics and community work that was on my cv – it was about an hour long. It was a bit strange being on video but it went well I guess because I came back into the London office for a chat, for my second interview, which was really just more of a chat where I got to ask lots of questions. It was just enjoyable, I think, as opposed to a lot of other interviews. You’re always a bit nervous before an interview, but the process is set out in a way where you can actually ask a lot of questions and it’s a little more friendly, which is really nice when you’re nervous interviewing."
"My interview was very frank and very full and I felt that the interviewers really got to know me, as a person. I think one of the key things that the interviewer is looking for is your ability to, on the one hand, be able to argue your point, and, you do that when you can support your point, when you can justify it and, in that case, you have to fight your corner. But the interviewer is also looking for, on the other hand, whether or not you have the sensibility to be able to concede when you can’t support your argument anymore. And that’s a key skill of a lawyer because you have to fight your corner for your client when you know you can and you know you should. But you mustn’t do that if you’re out of your depth. That’s when you…you have to have the sensitivity to know when to stop."
"Well, the two biggest tips I would give would… be yourself but, definitely, you’ve got to back yourself when you go into the room because the partners here will challenge you and it’s good to show your opinion, be able to give reasons for your opinion."