Winston & Strawn

When was your Winston & Strawn interview? 

Summer 2018

What was it for? 

Vacation scheme

Please describe the interview process at Winston & Strawn.

Application with CV/Cover Letter and an interview (helpfully, they gave the option to do this via a video interview).

It felt very welcoming, but the firm is very small so the commonly said saying ‘you’ll gain responsibility from day one’ gets real meaning here, and this was obvious in the interview.

What advice would you give to future applicants for the Winston & Strawn interview?

What I gathered from the interview was that, given how small the firm is, most people will be interviewed by the same partners/associates, giving a lot more equal treatment to the process than at other, larger firms.

The interview experience was possibly the most welcoming, as they try their best to make it a chat rather than an assessment interview per se – something that I really appreciated, as it gave some insight into how the actual training contract might be.

Specifically, as regards its content, it was mixed, including both competency and commercial questions. The competency questions were the standard ones (i.e when you have withstood a challenge, when you led a team and so on). The commercial questions were a bit more focused than at other firms, but Winston & Strawn is pretty specialised in London so that is to be expected. So, get a firm grasp of the firm’s past deals (you will be asked about some), and be ready to get into the more technical side of them. They don’t expect you to know everything and they will help, but you do have to show them you have done your research and know more than what is written on their website.

One thing that is also clear throughout the interview is the focus on the firm – again, Winston & Strawn is very specialised and very small, so you will have to do more to show them it is truly the firm you want to work for. Their teams are very small and every single member counts.

Overall, make sure you focus your preparation on the firm (more so than you would at others I would say), and incorporate your suitability for it wherever you can. Nonetheless, make sure this is not forced, as I’m sure they’ve gotten very good at differentiating the candidate who has thought it through about working there from the candidate that is simply applying there in hopes of getting a place at any firm.