Interview experiences for vacation schemes and training contracts. Law firms are sorted alphabetically.

CMS Cameron Mckenna Interview

When was your CMS assessment day?
January 2019

What was it for?

CMS Academy.

Please describe the assessment day at CMS.
The group was split into two (5 in each group) and given separate timetables for the day.

There were 4 exercises:
1. Speed networking with current trainees (6 minutes with 6 trainees). This was very informal and friendly – I think the key is really to be yourself, show interest in the firm and who you are talking to, but also demonstrate your own qualities and interests. The trainees had prompt questions which were very difficult questions – especially if you only had a minute to answer – so make sure to keep the conversation going haha!

2. Case study. You had to read all the information given, summarise your conclusion and advice on one side of A4, and prepare to present this in your partner interview. I’m not sure on what advice to give here – try to draw on commercial awareness/knowledge where you can (e.g. political environment, economy etc) but ultimately use your common sense.

3. Partner interview. Present your case study conclusion for 10 minutes, followed by 5 minutes in which the partner asks you questions about the case study/your presentation. This is followed by 30/40 minutes of competency-based questions. Make sure to use the STAR method and don’t be too brief. There was no “Why CMS” or “Why law” question. Questions included:
– Talk about a recent change in legislation and how it affects us/our clients.
– Describe a time when you had to convince others of your point of view.

4. Group exercise. You had 30 minutes to prepare, 10 minutes to present, and 10 minutes in which they ask questions. The topic was very entrepreneurial driven so 30 minutes was quite short to brainstorm and prepare a presentation. Focus on what the question is asking and specifically what you need to answer – even though you are being watched by people it’s not an opportunity to show off about how much you know generally.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the CMS interview?
All round it was an enjoyable, friendly and informal day. I had been advised by someone else (who had attended an assessment day at CMS previously) that CMS want you to do well and that they’re not trying to trip you up – after my own experience I really felt this was true. Focus on being friendly and on being someone they would want to work with – although of course always be yourself.

When was your CMS Cameron McKenna interview? 

February 2018

What was it for? 

Vacation scheme

Please describe the interview process at CMS Cameron McKenna.

The assessment day which I attended was divided into two parts: morning and afternoon. In the morning, we had to do presentations, interview with HR, and analysis exercise. In the afternoon, we had to do a group exercise and a partner interview.

The interview itself will last for about 10-15 minutes. You will talk and then have questions asked on your presentation. In the analysis exercise, you will be given a case study styled question. You will be required to read it and then answer it. Then you will have approximately an hour to work through the information. You can either write by hand or by laptop. For the group exercise, you will be split into groups. You will be given tasks and will have limited time to discuss it. For the partner interview, you will be asked why CMS, what can you bring to the firm, why law, and what commercial issue interests you etc.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the CMS Cameron McKenna interview?

You will be tested for your commercial acumen in order to see if you understand the role that you have applied to and whether you can contribute to its success. You will need to show drive and motivation. It is important to illustrate that you can initiate ideas and work efficiently. Problem-solving is also key. You will need to identify key issues, think around problems creatively and draw conclusions from the information available. Lastly, I would say that it is important to have a personal impact. You must learn to involve others, not alienate people. Explain your way of thinking.

Within exercises, some candidates believe they have to push themselves forwards at every opportunity. But as there are usually lots of opportunities for group interactions at the centres, this is not necessary. You should be involved in all discussions, and ask questions. But do not feel that you have to dominate. Communication skills are what are primarily assessed within these group exercises, but remember that this is not just speaking; listening and reacting are just as important.

Allowing others their say is one way to demonstrate this. If a dominant character threatens to overwhelm discussion, do not be afraid to push in and pose questions to quieter members of the group. Incidentally, do not be overly talkative yourself. One of the mistakes you see commonly is people feeling so desperate to say something that they will say anything. Do not be silent, but do not worry about being quiet.

When was your CMS Cameron McKenna interview? 

January 2018

What was it for? 

Vacation scheme

Please describe the interview process at CMS Cameron McKenna.

CMS Academy Assessment Centre:

1) Partner interview: we received a case study in the morning and had some time to look over it and prepare for the interview. Case study was business related, you had to present the most important commercial issues in the scenario and practice areas you’d involve in the deal from the firm. Generally the case study was much better than what I expected, and the partner I had my interview with was suuuuper nice. After discussing the case study I had a competency based interview with the partner.

2) Group work: we were working in a group on a presentation for two associates who were in the room and observing. I’d say make sure you’re listening to people and generally being cooperative, cause we did have a guy in our group who clearly was not listening to everyone else and just pushing his ideas, and that was definitely noticed as not very good. The topic was interesting, and we actually received materials to work from, so it did not require any prerequisite knowledge for sure, just analysis, structuring and presenting well.

3) Speed networking: we had 6 mins per person, and 6 people to speak to. They were mainly trainees from what I remember. We were told when to change people so that was easy. The people I was talking to had set questions I had to answer, some of which were ‘fun’ and others business related (but not testing you on current events – just generally business related) – This was the part of the day that I was most nervous about but turned out to be the most fun as I got to speak with current trainees and ask them about their experience.

This was my order on the day but the order varied for applicants as we were split in two groups.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the CMS Cameron McKenna interview?

As usual, really research the firm: recent deals, how they portray themselves, specialisms, etc. Be up to date on current developments in the business world, and try to think about how that relates to the firm and its clients. Having a short thing about it after every story you read will be very helpful when it comes to the interview when although you will probably not be asked directly about business stories, it is expected to somehow weave that knowledge in your answers.

What is really important is thinking through “why law” “why me” “why this firm” and really having good, thought out answers. This is one I feel people often don’t do well on, and one you can definitely prepare earlier and have a great answer to.

When was your CMS Cameron McKenna interview? 

March 2018

What was it for? 

CMS Academy

Please describe the interview process at CMS Cameron McKenna.

I was invited to the assessment centre with CMS after undertaking a video interview. The assessment centre was well structured but full. We first had a case study and written exercise. This involved being given various documents about a case, writing up a report for one hour and then taking our findings to an interview with a partner who we had to present our findings to before they asked us more questions. This then became a generic interview with motivations and competency questions. After this exercise we did a group exercise, we had around half an hour to discuss and plan a presentation around our given topic (this was all assessed and we were watched by assessors). We then gave a 15 minute presentation as a group before being asked questions by the assessors (not about the content, about the way we worked together). Finally, we took part in a ‘speed networking’ exercise which involved having 5 minute mini-networking conversations with various representatives from the firm, this was very laid back and good to meet more people.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the CMS Cameron McKenna interview?

CMS was a very full day. I think the the most important thing is to understand key elements of how they differentiate themselves and why you like that in the firm/ why those differentials draw you towards a career there. The case study was broad and allowed you to draw on many different ideas, it was definitely about thinking commercially. For this I used both my knowledge of the work lawyers do for their clients/ the different practice groups and the current global trends that impact on businesses. The partner who interviewed me was very friendly and extremely encouraging, and on speaking to other participants this did not seem to be an anomaly. The group exercise was mostly about working together, try to ask questions to your fellow team members and encourage organisation.

When was your CMS Cameron McKenna interview? 

April 2016

What was it for? 

Vacation Scheme

Please describe the interview process at CMS Cameron McKenna.

The phone interview before the assessment centre dealt with some motivation and competency questions.

There were only four of us there. The first thing we did on the day was a 100 minute written exercise. This was basically a case study with a focus on analysis of the information which we were given. We had to read information about offices of a company, and work out the profits of each office given the data provided. Then we were asked to give advice as to how the company should reorganise itself in light of the profitability of the difference offices.

Then there was an interview. Some people had associates, but I had mine with the head of HR who is a very nice person and immediately put me at ease. The interview covered classic motivation and competency questions, but felt like an informal chat and not a box-ticking exercise.

Then there was a trainee who came to talk to us and answer any questions, but that wasn’t assessed.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the CMS Cameron McKenna interview?

A lot of emphasis seemed to be placed on the written exercise, and although we had a long time to do it, I still felt pushed for time at the end, so don’t relax too much and try to work as quickly as possible right from the beginning. Make sure you understand how to work out profits, and understand data about costs etc., the concept of big overheads, sunk costs, and some key strategies for businesses to help efficiency. It helped to be innovative in answers, so try to think outside of the box, more than just closing one or two offices which aren’t as profitable.

Prepare your competencies to give good answers, and be clear on your motivation for commercial law, the firm etc. I was asked about how I would fit into a firm as big as CMS and the wider CMS network. I was asked what personally motivates me for success, which at first I found difficult to think about, but the interviewer helped me to understand what sort of thing he was looking for. It was probably the nicest interview experience I’ve ever had with a firm.

From Kieran Sargent, a future trainee at CMS Cameron Mckenna.

The best advice I could give specifically for CMS is understand the business model and the reasons for its structure. This permeates into all aspects of the firm. In a more general sense, don’t over prepare. As silly as that sounds, CMS is an open firm and they like to see this in candidates. They can spot a script a mile off and so being genuine and forthcoming with their questions can really make someone stand out. I’m unsure of how the application process is now but if there is one, group tasks are important. A balance of listening and input is paramount. If someone is struggling to find their voice, perhaps ask them what their views are? I hope that helps and please wish them good luck from me!

From Kishan Mathy, a future trainee at CMS Cameron Mckenna:

The assessment day consisted of a case study and two partner interviews. One interview was a competency interview and the other was just a general chat.

The case study involves reading multiple documents and answering the questions set. My advice for the case study would be to show a clear structure in your work that shows how you have reached your conclusions. Also, keep in mind to manage your time properly and that your writing is clear and concise. It is your ability to analysis the documents given to you and present your thoughts clearly that is being tested.

The competency interview is straight forward. The partners have a list of prepared questions they must ask you. I advise using the STAR method to structure your responses.

Finally my advice for the general interview is to answer the questions succinctly and not fall into the trap of waffling. Show your personality. You might also be asked about your thoughts on a current issue so make sure you have at least one current topic you can confidently talk about.