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

Shearman & Sterling Interview

When was your Shearman & Sterling interview? 

February 2018

What was it for? 

Vacation Scheme

Please describe the interview process at Shearman & Sterling.

Two rounds, the first includes an interview and the second a proper assessment centre with a group exercise, a written exercise, a case study and another interview.

The firm is certainly great, but I did not enjoy the office layout at all.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Shearman & Sterling interview?

First interview: you will be invited on an extremely short notice compared to other firms, as their applications have been skyrocketing. This was a 45 minute interview with the principal member of the recruitment team and a senior associate. Unlike at other firms, the member of the recruitment team takes a much more active role, you would have thought he is, in fact, an associate himself. The interview itself was rather basic, including competency questions, but with a heavy focus on the firm. Having been to their Head Start scheme and this interview, I can tell you they are religiously obsessed with themselves, constantly comparing their practices to the Magic Circle and trying to show their relative strengths. You will not succeed unless you truly show that you prefer them over the Magic Circle. They have literally stressed on many occasions how trainees chose them over, say, Linklaters, so for good or not this has become their motto now.

Second round/assessment centre:
-Group exercise
-Written exercise
-Case study
-Interview

-This was particularly long and packed with exercises.

-Group exercise: for a firm this strong, their intake is small, so they place quite a lot of weight on this exercise. We were given a business scenario to read and had to advise the client. It was on M&A territory, and the questions that had to be covered were clearly laid out. I do not think it is possible to prepare for this other than to get a basic gist of the M&A process.

-Written exercise: again on a business scenario. The way you communicate is as important as what you say. I found the written exercise and the group exercise very similar, so I suppose the weighting here, in like with their small intake, goes to the team-effort.

-Case study: once again, you read a news entry which is business focused and have to discuss it with two fee-earners, usually newly qualified associates. They expected us to handle this very confidently, as they want people who have done their research. Make sure you keep your cool, structure your argument, and defend your point without becoming rude. They will be increasingly adding the intensity and difficulty of the questions.

-Interview: Unlike the interview in the first round, the focus is much, much more commercial, in line with the rest of the exercises here. Usually done by two partners, it will also include a news story, a thorough discussion of it, as well as technical questions on the main practice areas of Shearman & Sterling. The are very interested to see whether you can cope with the work that is done at the firm, as they take their investments in their trainees extremely seriously, as do all firms I suppose.

When was your Shearman & Sterling interview? 

Late 2017

What was it for? 

Winter Vacation Scheme

Please describe the interview process at Shearman & Sterling.

Very short notice, contacted 4 days before interview way past deadline despite having applied at start of window.

30 min interview with head of HR/Grad Rec and a Senior Associate.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Shearman & Sterling interview?

Very basic ‘why you, why Shearman’, competency questions like ‘time you’ve worked in a team, have you ever provided a service to a client’ etc. I was also asked about my strengths and weaknesses.

Finally a question on a recent commercial story I’d been following. Was properly probed on this, so be prepared to justify why it’s important/why it’s relevant.

Was rejected on basis of not knowing enough about the firm, so they’re hot on this. Also feel as though fit is very important to them.

Waited a week before rejection.