• Applications for Shearman & Sterling's vacation schemes are now open! Apply now.
  • Future trainees, we're hiring! You have until midnight tonight to apply to TCLA's Application Review Team. Apply Now!

Allen & Overy Interview 2019 - 2020

Jaysen

Founder, TCLA
Staff member
TCLA Moderator
Premium Member
M&A Bootcamp
  • Feb 17, 2018
    4,164
    7,146
    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    January 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Summer Vacation Scheme

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    I arrival at 2pm, I was greeted by three other candidates undertaking the AC. We were then taken into a separate room to have a casual conversation with the woman from graduate recruitment. She gave an overview of the day. Then at around 2:30 we were taken into separate rooms and handed our case studies with 30 minutes to go through the material. Once the time was over, a partner arrived to discuss the questions. After this we were given a 10/15 minute break until another interview with somebody from graduate recruitment in the same small room. Everything was fairly personal since it was 1:1.

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    Case Study - 30 minutes to read through the bundle and prepare answers to a set of questions. As many scenarios, it was an M&A study where we had to advise whether it would be worth acquiring company A.
    With A&O there is generally a maths question - mine was to work out the estimated value of the company. Make sure you take a calculator!
    Interview - this was approximately 30 minutes long and was very conversational. We were discussing a bit about my extra-curriculars but then swiftly moved into the situational judgement sort of questions.

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    Why A&O?
    Why the city?
    Where else have I applied?
    After looking at my experience in accounting, why not accounting or the Big Four?

    Then I was asked questions about different situations
    - what would you do if you have a flight to catch in the morning and work to get done tonight but a partner asks you to attend a client dinner?
    - also asked something about a trainee being rowdy at an event. How would you approach this?

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.

    M&A Case Study - organise your notes, my notes became messy and difficult to understand. This was reflected in my presentation. Please bring a calculator and ensure that you have answered the maths question because that seemed to be discussed in quite a lot of detail. Try to create diagrams where possible.

    Interview - this was laid back and I think staying relaxed is the best approach. Try to make it conversational, I was attempting not to be too rigid in my approach - particularly with the STAR answers. Make sure that you remember what you had written in the application, things were brought up that I had slightly forgotten about in the description of my work experience. Also, I think honesty is very important with the situational judgement interviews. Sometimes it would be unrealistic to give an answer that you think they want to hear (eg the questions about your flight - you wouldn’t miss your flight to get the work done but perhaps work until late or start early before the flight).

    Were you successful?

    Yes
     

    Jaysen

    Founder, TCLA
    Staff member
    TCLA Moderator
    Premium Member
    M&A Bootcamp
  • Feb 17, 2018
    4,164
    7,146
    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    November 2019

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Summer Vacation Scheme 2020

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    2:15pm arrival (I picked the later slot on purpose so I could sit in the Costa opposite and ensure I wasn't late)
    There was a bit of time to talk to the other people on the AC (I think there were about 5 other people there)
    There was no introduction from Grad Rec, we all just got put in our case study rooms. One person started with the competency interview because of a mix up.
    The day finished with an office tour with a trainee. Pretty sure this was not assessed.
    I left A&O at around 5 ish.

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    Case study -- I'm estimating it was 45 mins to 1hr. Goes by quickly. I was interviewed by a banking partner.

    You have to read a booklet and plan a 15-minute presentation in 30 minutes. It’s the quickest 30 minutes of your life – the preparation is very time pressured as even though the booklet isn't long, it is quite long for the time you have to comprehend all the information and prepare a presentation.

    You don’t have time to go over all the issues in detail as you’ve probably gathered. My partner gave me a couple minutes to read over something properly when he asked me about it and I said that I hadn’t got the chance to read it in detail because of the time constraints. It’s not a test of reading quickly.

    My case study was a pharma company buying a [redacted] company. It changes from year to year. Knowing about [redacted] didn’t really add anything for me because all the relevant stuff you would have read in the news was in the booklet and you get the general gist that the regulation is loosening and so it’s probably a good buy.

    There are a lot of problems with the deal but I’d say focus on solutions when you’re preparing. The partner will probably ask you anyway. Think flexibly as well. At one point I said ‘I’d get an indemnity’ because this is what I had learned again and again but the partner asked ‘would the seller agree to this?’ and then proposed another solution. His idea was better than mine and so I agreed. Don't be afraid to disagree though. On the gender-pay gap I disagreed with what the partner said and literally said ‘I’m going to stand my ground on this one’. Probably works better on a more contentious issue such as the gender pay gap where you are more on an equal level with the partner rather than an issue like IP litigation.

    Don’t bring in irrelevant commercial awareness knowledge to bring it up. This was the case with a lot of my interviews. Case studies are more about thinking flexibly and finding solutions to the problem so I'd focus on that.

    Technical stuff you should be familiar with
    • Different practice areas (especially IP litigation, employment issues, commercial contracts etc – how do you solve problems that come up here?) They typically feature in an M/A case study deal
    • Confidentiality agreement with seller – bank needed information that would breach this agreement to give the loan – what do you do (waiver, but also note that the point of the confidentiality is to prevent the seller’s competitors from getting access to the information so they probably will be fine with the bank knowing is what I said)
    • Contract to supply plastics until 2024, stated publicly that they will stop using single-use plastics by 2021. I said adjust with supplier and use new buying leverage from new acquisition to stop single-use plastics and maybe extend reusable plastics (as the contract said it was with plastics in general. I think it showed attention to detail to notice that)
    • Putting money in escrow
    • Indemnities (maybe putting a floor and a cap on a liability payment? or a time limit?)
    • Equity/ debt – ways of raising money as a company
    • Auction process – what do you do if you don’t want to overpay but the auction process leads to this by nature?

    Competency interview
    It was with the Head of Graduate Recruitment and the interview gave her the opportunity to get to know me better. I forgot about some opportunities that I could talk about but this ended up fine because it was less like a Q & A interview and more like a conversation.

    I would just prepare the competency questions on TCLA's website. I would also map out my experiences and the key skills I got from them just in case I got a novel question.

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    Case study
    Basically all of them were in relation to the issues listed above – so how would you solve this? What about this solution? What if they don’t agree? What if they don’t do this?

    Competency interview
    My interview was in November last year but I remember that there was no out of the ordinary competency questions.

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.

    Case study
    My advice is to be really technically sound. I had researched a couple deals and was able to mention one with regards to an employment issue (I don’t even think it was an A&O deal). I wouldn’t force anything in though, if you know enough I think it shows through. If you do the work and research a lot on how a deal works and what the lawyer’s role in this, this shouldn’t be that hard. Emphasis on the hard work that goes in before though! Commercial awareness is really important and if you spend a lot of time on it some of the terms just end up in your lexicon and finding solutions to the problems isn’t that hard and it flows in your answers. I used the FT, corporate law academy and other sites quite a lot. I’d read an FT article and google every word I didn’t know the meaning of.

    Competency
    Prepare your skills and do not be too nervous -- it prevents your personality from showing through!

    Were you successful?

    Yes
     

    Jaysen

    Founder, TCLA
    Staff member
    TCLA Moderator
    Premium Member
    M&A Bootcamp
  • Feb 17, 2018
    4,164
    7,146
    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    November 2019

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Training Contract 2023

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    9.45am Arrival
    10-11am: Case Study Interview (with partner)
    11.15am - 12.15pm: Situational Judgement Interview (with senior associate)
    12.15-12.45pm: Trainee Tour of the Office

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    Case Study Interview:
    You are given between five and ten minutes to read through a fifteen-page case study of an M&A transaction. The materials were standard: company balance sheets, instructions from your partner, any any relevant information (e.g. concerning leases, outstanding loans). I was then interviewed for around an hour. I had to summarise the information: What was the transaction about? Why would the company be undertaking it? But the most consequential, and difficult, part of the assessment was to explore and resolve the various commercial and legal issues which arose. For example, questions may have concerned the effect of the lease arrangements on the transaction or the effect of patents on the value of the target.

    Situational Judgement Interview:
    A&O have moved away from traditional competency interviews, and instead utilise situational judgement interviews. In a way, this assessment is comparable to the Situational Judgement Test candidates must pass in order to have their application reviewed. The questions largely centred around typical trainee problems and the appropriate responses to these. After being provided with the scenario and giving your answer, the interviewer would then provide follow-up questions, which may for example alter the situation and ask whether this would change your reaction.


    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    Case Study Interview
    As this was a case study interview, I can only offer general questions:
    - Calculate the value of the target company
    - What are the potential legal issues over the target's patents?
    - What are the commercial problems associated with the target's leases?

    Case Study Interview:
    Again, these were posed within the context of a specific scenario, and therefore I can only offer general questions.
    - When have you been innovative?
    - When have you shown cultural awareness?
    - When have you worked as part of a team?

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.

    Preparation:
    I did three main things to prepare. First, I read the popular books both on commercial awareness and interview preparation (Jake Schogger's handbooks and Christopher Stoakes's books). In a way similar to an exam, I then made flashcards of key terms and concepts and would memorise them. Second, I did example consultancy interview case studies - as their format is analogous to that of A&O's case study, especially in the identification of commercial issues. Third, and this may be more difficult depending on your university and year, etc., but I spoke to other students who had previously been interviewed at A&O for general advice.

    Case Study Interview:
    I found this interview the hardest. This was largely due to its intentionally pressured environment. The best way to prepare is to do examples (as noted above) and understand how potential commercial and legal issues could be resolved (e.g. through warranties, indemnities, etc. - these are all covered in Schogger's handbooks).

    Situational Judgement Interview:
    For this interview ensure that you have a wealth of examples on which to draw. Also, consider A&O's testing rubric: What are their values? What do they look for in future trainees? It would be fruitful for prospective applicants to attend one of the firm's open days, as they outline their criteria specifically at them.


    Were you successful?

    Yes
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Dev_101

    Jaysen

    Founder, TCLA
    Staff member
    TCLA Moderator
    Premium Member
    M&A Bootcamp
  • Feb 17, 2018
    4,164
    7,146
    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    December 2019

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Training Contract

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    Arrival 2.15
    Taken to lounge by Grad Rec 2.30-2.45
    Taken to individual room for case study prep 2.45-3.15
    Back to lounge, waiting for Partner to arrive 3.15-3.30
    Partner interview 3.30-4.25
    Back to lounge, waiting for HR manager to arrive 4.25-4.30
    HR/SJT interview 4.30-5.25
    Back to lounge, picked up by trainee 5.30
    Tour and drink with trainee 5.30-6.00

    NB- my Partner and HR interviews lasted longer than they ought to have done. If you do get the 2.15 slot, you really should be done with the day by 5.30.

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    Case study-
    -30 minutes to read about 20 pages of material
    -material was about whether an M&A transaction should go ahead and my opinion
    -material included newspaper cuttings, financial information, employee profiles, DD report, emails
    -you had 6 core areas to give answers on
    -15 minutes to present to Partner
    -take 45-60 minutes worth of questions

    HR/SJT interview-
    -lasts 45-60 minutes
    -5 key scenarios, followed by a time you've been in that scenario
    -chance to ask questions at the end


    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    Case study- (difficult to say exact questions because they're asked based on what you've raised, but I've listed some examples)
    -What would be a reasonable offer price?
    -What is the impact of key individuals on the business?
    -Is the ongoing litigation a threat?
    -What does this secret payment look like?
    -What further information would you want to see?
    -How would we protect our client from X matter?

    CJT-
    -You're a trainee. You're moved to another team by an associate. You were doing really well so didn't know why. You aren't familiar with the new deal team's work. What do you do?
    -What's a time where you've had to jump teams at the last moment?
    -How would you make a client presentation 'innovative'?
    -Name a time where you've had to convince a superior of your ideas/views.

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.

    Advice for preparation
    -There's a video on YouTube made by A&O called 'An Anatomy of a Deal'. WATCH IT UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND IT. This is short but SO crucial in terms of understanding what an M&A transaction consists of.
    -From doing this, you can do a bit more research into how different practice areas are relevant in a transaction
    -Research different ways of funding a transaction
    -Have examples of current M&A transactions so that you're able to substantiate any answers in the Partner interview
    -Maths. It is pretty well known that Law students are shocking at maths so do go over the basics. The interview will include you doing one calculation, however, you're given quite a bit of financial material so if you can calculate current ratio or at the very least, a percentage change, this will impress the Partner in terms of how you've assimilated information.
    -Try to do some research into A&O's values or generally, what the role of a trainee consists of. Knowing this will make the SJT interview much easier as you'll be talking in terms of the firm, but with the knowledge of the role.
    -Have a couple of good examples for your usual competency questions. The interviewer will frame questions in terms of a scenario but your competency skills/activities can be used here.

    Advice for on-the-day
    -Arrive early. Even if you sit in Pret opposite or on the benches outside the firm, just having a while to sit and get into an AC mindset will do you good
    -Bring a form of photo ID with you; they check this at reception
    -For me, I brought my own pen for the Partner interview because I can write fast with it. If you've got a preference like this, you might want to bring your own too
    -For the case study, speak within a structure. Identify key points and show an awareness that you've raised other issues but don't want to waste time discussing them as they're not as crucial
    -Talk! There'll be 5/6 other candidates too. Talking to them about what they're studying and where they go will make the experience a lot less daunting
    -If you're offered water, take it. You don't actually realise how much talking you'll end up doing in these interviews. Taking a sip of water can actually be a buffer for when you need some thinking time
    -At the end of the interview, you get to sit and get a drink with a trainee. They don't report back to Grad Rec so use this as a chilled networking opportunity to find out more about the firm
    and my BIGGEST TIP OF ALL
    -DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR CLARIFICATION. If you don't understand something a Partner or HR manager has said, simply ask them to re-phrase or clarify. They will not mind and it's much better to get this clarity before you try to waffle incoherently.


    Situational Judgement Interview:
    For this interview ensure that you have a wealth of examples on which to draw. Also, consider A&O's testing rubric: What are their values? What do they look for in future trainees? It would be fruitful for prospective applicants to attend one of the firm's open days, as they outline their criteria specifically at them.


    Were you successful?

    Yes
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Dev_101

    Jaysen

    Founder, TCLA
    Staff member
    TCLA Moderator
    Premium Member
    M&A Bootcamp
  • Feb 17, 2018
    4,164
    7,146
    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    January 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Training Contract 2021

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    14:00 Arrival, 14:15 Talk from Graduate Recruitment, 14:30 30-minute Case Study Preparation, 15:00 1-hour presentation and interview with partner, 16:00 Break, 16:30 Situational Judgment Interview, 17:15 Tour Around the Office with Trainee

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    Case Study - 30 minutes to read through M&A Bundle (i.e. Whether [redacted] Company X should purchase [redacted] Start-Up Y to diversity into the [redacted] Market). The bundle includes a diversity of documents including e-mail correspondence with the client giving you their key objectives and information about the detail, a preliminary due diligence report on the start-up's product portfolio and assets, a loan agreement from the bank, market analysis with competitors, and newspaper clippings. The interview with the partner then starts with a 10 minute presentation by you fundamentally answering whether or not the client should acquire the business and an outlining of the most significant/important factors to this transaction and strategies to overcome them. Afterwards for the remaining 50 minutes you will have a back-and-forth where the partner will pick up on any points you missed and ask further questions.

    Situational Judgment- Approximately 45 minute interview starting with your motivations to be a trainee solicitor at A&O, before going onto the situational judgment. Much like the online test, you will be presented with a diversity of scenarios in which you will have to explain your plan of action and the reasons underlying it. However, unlike the online test you will then be asked to relate to this scenario from a previous experience (i.e. tell me a time when you had to work with somebody who was difficult).

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    Why Allen & Overy? Why do you want to be a trainee solicitor? Tell me a time when you had to work with somebody difficult? Tell me a time when you had to lead a time? Tell me a time when you had to think outside the box?

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.

    Case Study -
    Be well rested! There's an abundance of information with strict time constraints but what they're assessing is the way you think not your expertise on each of these contracts. You will be expected to think on your feet and do a quick yet comprehensive surveyal of the material.

    Structure! Rather than just blurt out every point that comes to mind, find a way to structure your presentation - be it based on priority of issues, by category, or by client's questions.

    Keep up to date with current affairs! Not a deal-breaker but obviously the case studies they use are ones that are contemporary and relevant - even being able to slide in a comment on your awareness of the issues plaguing the market will definitely get you ahead (i.e. with CBD, the regulatory uncertainty/blackhole make investment in this area highly uncertain).

    Situational Judgment-

    Revise your previous work experiences - categorize them by skills/attributes that you developed during these times.

    Go over your motivations - know exactly why you want to work at A&O (i.e. what specific characteristics of the firm attract you to it).

    Were you successful?

    No
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Dev_101

    Jaysen

    Founder, TCLA
    Staff member
    TCLA Moderator
    Premium Member
    M&A Bootcamp
  • Feb 17, 2018
    4,164
    7,146
    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    March 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Training Contract 2022

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    9:30am arrival, brief from a member of the Graduate Recruitment team for about 20 mins whilst we were given a bit of breakfast in the lounge area. At 10am, we were each placed in a room for half an hour in which we had to read the brief of a case study and prepare for our presentation which would be delivered to the Partner. Then at 11:45am, we had another interview but this was with a member of the graduate recruitment team which lasted just over 45 mins.

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    The case study - we were given 30 mins to read it which generally consisted of company X selling their company off to company Y, and within the case study, there was information on the financing of the deal, litigation issues, employment and real estate issues. Within this 30 mins, we also had to prepare a 10 mins presentation to the Partner regarding the delay and whether we believed they should represent the client, and whether the deal should be finalised.
    The scenario-based interview was quite easy and basically consisted of a member of HR asking situational judgment questions such as ‘you are working on a deal and your member is slacking, what would you do?’, and after every answer, we were made to give an example of when we had be in a similar situation. There were about 5-6 of these questions.

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    -what is the difference a warranty and an indemnity?
    - what are the ways you can finance an acquisition?
    - why is the balance sheet important ?
    - what would be your approach if the company had a breach of cyber security?
    - which is more efficient, an asset sale purchase or a share sale purchase?

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.

    For the case study interview, make sure you have prepped loads on practice case studies and are able to decipher the issues quickly in a piece of information and come up with a solution. Also, ensure that you are able to think quickly on your feet and don’t be scared to go against what the Partner has stated, even if they put forward the impression that you are wrong; they like people who hold their stance.
    In regard to the scenario based interview, know the values of the firm inside out and always make sure you apply an approach, whether this is the STAR approach. Be sure you have a solid structure and stick to it.

    Were you successful?

    Yes
     

    Jaysen

    Founder, TCLA
    Staff member
    TCLA Moderator
    Premium Member
    M&A Bootcamp
  • Feb 17, 2018
    4,164
    7,146
    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    January 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Summer Vacation Programme 2020 - Middle East

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    I arrived at the Dubai office for 9:30am and was taken to the room, where interviews were to take place. I was then greeted by a member of the graduate recruitment, where I was told about the structure of the assessment day and two exercises I will have to do

    After around 30mins, a senior associate and a member of HR arrived. they introduced themselves and explained how what competency interview entails. This interview lasted for around 1hr and I was asked a variety of competency questions and forward-based scenario questions (similar to an SJT-style test). The majority of the talking was done by the senior associate and HR was, for the majority of the interview, recording my responses.

    I assume they were following a script. I was asked a total of 5 forward-based scenario questions e.g. you are working on deal X, but you are suddenly told by a partner to switch to a different project, how would you react and what would you say?

    The senior associate will probe you further on your answers. You will also be expected to give an example of when you have encountered such a scenario in your legal/non-legal work experiences (STAR technique would be helpful here)

    After that, I was given a break for about 20mins. Then I was presented with a load of documentation for the case study exercise. I was briefed by HR and told that I had 45mins to understand, read and prepare a 10-minute presentation on a fictional M&A deal to present to 2 partners from the firm. Particular emphasis was placed on the various risks that were prested

    After that, the interview will begin where 2 partners will enter the room and introduce themselves. I was then required to give my 10-min presentation. They will be very probing and technical, though they appreciate the time-pressured nature of the task. If you forget something from the text, they will allow you to flick through the bundle

    If you miss something important out, they will point it out and give you a few mins to analyse the issue and present possible solutions for the client.

    The case study is a critical part of the assessment and commercial awareness will be key here! Try to demonstrate commercial acumen throughout, even better if you could embed this in your response. Always be conscious of the fact that this is for a work placement and possibly TC in the Middle East, so make sure your commerciality is geared towards this part of the world, if possible

    Please provide a summary of each assessment on the day with approximate timings.

    Scenario-based interview - 1hr to answer a series of forward-based scenario questions. This was conducted by a member of HR and a senior associate

    Case study - 45mins to read through an M&A booklet and to prepare a 10-minute presentation about a proposed acquisition of a driverless car company by a NY-based client. I was then

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    Scenario-based interview:

    - Why A&O?
    - Why A&O Middle East
    - Why Law?
    - What trends do you see in the region?
    - What interests you about working in the Middle East?

    Case study interview:

    - What are the differences between warranties and indemnities?
    - What is the role of W&I Insurance in protecting our clients?
    - Should all companies be required to report on gender pay gaps?
    - Which jurisdiction would you choose to register an SPV for the purposes of this acquisition?
    - Is tax the only consideration relevant when deciding were to base a SPV?

    What is your best advice for each aspect of the assessment on the day? Please break this down for each assessment. This can include advice for preparation, as well as tips for the day.

    Scenario-based interview:

    - Make sure you tailor your answers for the Middle East market.
    - Have a detailed understanding of the market trends in the Middle East (esp. Real Estate, Islamic Finance & Tech)
    - Be commercially aware! You will need to demonstrate that you understand the wider dynamics at play in this region e.g. Geopolitics, Political instability and Investor trends

    Case study interview:

    - Familiarise yourself with a typical M&A structure
    - Understand the mechanisms of an M&A transaction, including the role of the SPV in facilitating the deal
    - Have an understanding about the risks that are typical in any M&A transaction e.g. pending Litigation/IP dispute/Poor publicity of the target company
    - Try and suggest solutions to these problems. Don't just identify a problem!

    Also, try to relax you a take it easy as you will lose your thoughts and ideas if you are constantly feeling anxious and worried!

    Were you successful?

    No
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Dev_101