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

Stephenson Harwood interview

Stephenson Harwood HR interview Feb 2019

I went to the London office for an hour long interview with HR. This interview also applies if you are applying for a training contract, though you also have another AC after this interview for a TC (you do this on the vac scheme).

The interview was quite structured, and seemed to be split into three sections.
I was first asked about my studying experience – why did I choose to study law, why did I choose my university, what was my favourite module, what was my dissertation on, etc.

Then I think it was why law as a career, why commercial law over other areas of law, had I considered any other careers and if so why do I prefer law etc. I was asked why Stephenson Harwood, and asked if I could name a few deals they had been involved in and what practice areas I was interested in. I wasn’t asked how they were different from competitors or where else I had applied.

There was also a few competency based questions e.g. team work, challenged yourself.

Whilst there was clearly a set of questions which were being asked, the interviewer would sometimes ask further questions based on what I had said. She also wrote down a lot of what I was saying. It was a pleasant interview and quite relaxed.

When was your Stephenson Hardwood interview?
October 2018

What was it for?

Vacation scheme

Please describe the interview process at Stephenson Harwood.
The interview process is in two parts. The first part is an interview with two members of Graduate Recruitment or HR. This interview consists of a number of questions, which I think are split into three parts. The first set of questions are are mainly competency questions, so I used lots of STAR examples. The second part of the interview is based on your motivation for becoming a lawyer and the final part of the interview is based on Stephenson Harwood.

After getting through the first stage of interviews you are invited back to an assessment day. On the assessment day there are between 6-8 candidates, but there is no group task. The group are split into two, and one half will go and do a written task, whilst the others begin with their interview.

The written task was straight forward and did not require any legal knowledge. It did include a balance sheet so make sure you have a basic understanding of these.

Next, I moved on to my presentation and interview. A week before the assessment day you are given a presentation question and you are expected to prepare for the presentation in advance. Following your 10 minute presentation to a partner and a member of HR, you are asked a few questions on it, and then you move straight on to your interview. The interview was fairly similar to the first interview, with motivations for becoming a lawyer and why you wanted to work for Stephenson Harwood.

Finally, the last interview was based on the written task I did in the morning. These questions were quite fiery, and you should expected to be questioned on why you wrote certain things.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Stephenson Harwood interview?
With the interview following the written task, if you’ve realised that something you might have originally written is wrong don’t try and defend your wrong answer. You can admit that after reflecting you probably would have changed your answer. For the presentation make sure that you are presenting on something you are genuinely interested in and don’t feel too restricted to the question as it is easy to make any commercial topic relate to the question.

When was your Stephenson Hardwood interview?
November 2018

What was it for?

Winter Vacation Scheme

Please describe the interview process at Stephenson Harwood.
A one-hour interview with a member of graduate recruitment. It was very relaxed and I felt my interviewer tried to get the best out of me and definitely tailored the questions to my application. We spent a large proportion on my past work experience and internships so really know these inside out. From memory there were 3 competency questions which covered collaboration, challenges of working in a team, and a time where you felt you ‘added value’. There were also more technical questions where the interviewer asked me to explain specific points of law in simple English. The usual why law, why commercial law and why SH. Overall, I was very happy with the interview – there was nothing that was too difficult to answer and I felt the interviewer wanted me to do well which is definitely not the case at every other law firm.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Stephenson Harwood interview?
Have very clear and detailed responses to why law and why SH. Also, brush up on any technical areas of law you have mentioned in the application and be prepared to explain these and what interests you personally about that specific area.

Don’t be afraid to show personality – I think this is important given how tailored the interview was, it was obvious the interviewer had read my application and had picked specific areas to quiz me on.

When was your Stephenson Harwood interview? 

August 2017

What was it for? 

Training contract

Please describe the interview process at Stephenson Harwood.

The assessment day started with a presentation, Partner interview, written test, commercial awareness interview, office tour and lunch.

You are given the topic of your presentation in advance and will have a week to prepare for it prior to the assessment day. The Partner will ask many questions on your presentation, followed directly by a Partner interview on competencies and interests. I advice you to spend time on understanding how the topic chosen in the presentation affects the firm.

The written exercise is 1 hour 30 minutes long. It requires you to write a report based on the substantial amount of information provided. Your report then forms the basis for the next interview with a Partner where you will be asked on your rationale behind the advice you gave in the written exercise and a general discussion on the information.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Stephenson Harwood interview?

Research the firm and make sure that you understand the firm, its culture and the clients that it works for. You will be asked how the firm is different from other firms and how it better can sell itself to its clients. To answer this in an outstanding way, I would suggest that you read the services that the firm provides and learn about the firm culture. Also, you should use the 7 days that you are given to work on your presentation in a clever way. Be creative and think outside of the box. Be concrete and talk clearly. Think carefully about how the topic that you have been given affects Stephenson Harwood. To make your written exercise smooth, make sure that you understand the firm’s services quite well. This will allow you to give a more realistic advice.

When was your Stephenson Harwood interview? 

February 2018

What was it for? 

Vacation Scheme

Please describe the interview process at Stephenson Harwood.

For the vacation scheme, the process is extremely simple, since there’s only one interview with a member of the HR. They do not place as much emphasis on their ‘placement scheme’ as other firms, so this may explain it.

The firm was truly fantastic – I loved the offices and the atmosphere. They have been working hard to improve their image and I think they are doing a great job.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Stephenson Harwood interview?

-First round interview: as above, this is the only assessment, meaning it is the only chance candidates have to impress the firm. I was told the interview would last around 40-45 minutes but ended up lasting an hour, so I guess they are flexible if the discussion allows it. By and large, the first 30 minutes ended up being occupied by competency-based questions – these were random and varied. For example, I was asked about a time an idea I put forward was challenged, and what steps I took to defend my position/compromise where necessary. Another example was when I found a new approach to a problem, and how that approach added to solving said problem more easily. As you can see, they try the more difficult/advanced competency based questions, because they do specify more than other firms, at least in my experience, usually do.

-The remaining time was spent on a background ‘check’, namely a discussion of past experiences, my contributions, why I had picked them up, what I would like to do in the future and so on. The member of the recruitment team asked me what skills I had developed through these experiences and how they were ‘transferable’, namely how I could apply them to a legal career. She clearly diverged this into a different type of competency questions. On top of this, she touched on the answers I had given in the application form, so do brush up on these.

-I must say, nonetheless, that I felt the interview was very individually-driven. She asked these questions on the basis of my answers and the general feel she had taken from my application form. I heard others had very different interview experiences so do prepare as widely as possible, you only have one interview to prepare for here.

-I was unsuccessful because, according to the feedback, my answers to the competency questions were not as thorough and did not fully answer what was being asked. If there is anything to get out of this, is to be as thorough as possible and stop talking only when you feel you have given a well-structured, persuasive and complete answer.

When was your Stephenson Harwood interview? 

December 2017

What was it for? 

Vacation scheme

Please describe the interview process at Stephenson Harwood.

45 mins – hour interview with HR. Pretty structured set of questions, but very friendly interviewers who encourage you to do your best.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Stephenson Harwood interview?

The questions are mostly standard why law, why commercial law specifically, why SH, a couple of competency ones, a recent SH deal you found interesting, why you picked that degree, why you picked your last career, why you want to change. Be very precise in explaining why commercial law at Stephenson Harwood, but apart from that they seemed interested to get to know you. The fact that I had met one of the HR reps at a law fair previously and had an extended chat definitely helped.

Stephenson Harwood Interview 2018

When was your Stephenson Hardwood interview? 

October 2018

What was it for? 

Vacation scheme

Please describe the interview process at Stephenson Harwood.

The interview process is in two parts. The first part is an interview with two members of Graduate Recruitment or HR. This interview consists of a number of questions, which I think are split into three parts. The first set of questions are are mainly competency questions, so I used lots of STAR examples. The second part of the interview is based on your motivation for becoming a lawyer and the final part of the interview is based on Stephenson Harwood.

After getting through the first stage of interviews you are invited back to an assessment day. On the assessment day there are between 6-8 candidates, but there is no group task. The group are split into two, and one half will go and do a written task, whilst the others begin with their interview.

The written task was straight forward and did not require any legal knowledge. It did include a balance sheet so make sure you have a basic understanding of these.

Next, I moved on to my presentation and interview. A week before the assessment day you are given a presentation question and you are expected to prepare for the presentation in advance. Following your 10 minute presentation to a partner and a member of HR, you are asked a few questions on it, and then you move straight on to your interview. The interview was fairly similar to the first interview, with motivations for becoming a lawyer and why you wanted to work for Stephenson Harwood.

Finally, the last interview was based on the written task I did in the morning. These questions were quite fiery, and you should expected to be questioned on why you wrote certain things.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Stephenson Harwood interview?

With the interview following the written task, if you’ve realised that something you might have originally written is wrong don’t try and defend your wrong answer. You can admit that after reflecting you probably would have changed your answer. For the presentation make sure that you are presenting on something you are genuinely interested in and don’t feel too restricted to the question as it is easy to make any commercial topic relate to the question.

When was your Stephenson Hardwood interview? 

November 2018

What was it for? 

Winter Vacation Scheme

Please describe the interview process at Stephenson Harwood.

A one-hour interview with a member of graduate recruitment. It was very relaxed and I felt my interviewer tried to get the best out of me and definitely tailored the questions to my application. We spent a large proportion on my past work experience and internships so really know these inside out. From memory there were 3 competency questions which covered collaboration, challenges of working in a team, and a time where you felt you ‘added value’. There were also more technical questions where the interviewer asked me to explain specific points of law in simple English. The usual why law, why commercial law and why SH. Overall, I was very happy with the interview – there was nothing that was too difficult to answer and I felt the interviewer wanted me to do well which is definitely not the case at every other law firm.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Stephenson Harwood interview?

Have very clear and detailed responses to why law and why SH. Also, brush up on any technical areas of law you have mentioned in the application and be prepared to explain these and what interests you personally about that specific area.

Don’t be afraid to show personality – I think this is important given how tailored the interview was, it was obvious the interviewer had read my application and had picked specific areas to quiz me on.