CMS Assessment Centre

MZ

Esteemed Member
Forum Winner
Oct 7, 2020
75
440
Hey everyone! I've had a lot of messages asking about the CMS assessment centre over the past month so I figured I'd make a thread and put all the information in one place so everyone can have access to it since more AC invites seem to be going out at the moment. For reference, I had my AC in mid-December (I was fast-tracked after their First Steps programme) and got the vac scheme offer about a day later.

The assessment centre consisted of a case study, a partner interview, and a group exercise. Here's a run-through of how the day went and any tips I have on how to approach each exercise:

For the case study exercise, I had 45 minutes to prepare a presentation answering a question set out in the instructions. All the information you need is in the document they give you (you don't need any prior knowledge), so you just need to read/skim through it all carefully and make sure you pick up on all the key points (most of these will be quite obvious in the document so don't worry too much about missing anything major). My advice is just to make sure you leave enough time to structure your presentation in a clear and concise manner so you can be sure that you're answering all parts of the question (and so you don't end up rambling or jumping from one point to another during your presentation). One way you could do this is to have a cutoff point for yourself to finish reading so you don't run out of time trying to analyse every single sentence (which is probably what I would have done).

After the case study, I had a partner interview where I presented my case study findings in the first 10 minutes, then the partner asked me some questions about my presentation. For this stage, my advice is just to make sure that if you mention something in your presentation, you know enough about it to answer any follow-up questions about it. For example, if you briefly mention Brexit, be prepared to answer any question about other impacts it may have or what might happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit in this case study (obviously the no-deal part doesn't apply anymore, but you get the point). The questions didn't seem designed to trip me up and seemed more geared towards giving me an opportunity to expand on some of my earlier points and show my knowledge.

The rest of the interview was mostly competency questions (I didn't get any why CMS questions but can't speak for other people's interviews) and one or two basic situational judgment questions. The interview was quite relaxed and flowed more like a natural conversation, so I wasn't asked any difficult follow-up questions or specific commercial questions at any point.

For the group exercise, your group is given a task/question at the beginning of the exercise and then you have 30 minutes to prepare a 10-minute presentation with your group answering that question. The task itself was quite simple and didn't require much prior knowledge, since the point of the exercise is mainly to see how you work with others rather than to test your knowledge. This part of the AC was pretty straightforward, my only advice (even though it's super basic) is to just remember that the assessors are in the breakout room with you to watch how you interact with others, so make sure you're being a positive influence and encouraging others throughout the exercise, while still contributing some of your own ideas/thoughts. I'd also say keep an eye on the time because it can be very easy to get carried away with your discussion and not leave enough time to prepare your parts for the presentation.

That's pretty much it! This was my first assessment centre so I was very nervous and intimidated going into it, but it went by really quickly and I actually ended up enjoying it, so try not to stress over it too much (although I know that's easier said than done)!

I hope this is helpful, let me know if you have any questions!
 

JW

Star Member
Mar 17, 2020
38
135
Hey everyone! I've had a lot of messages asking about the CMS assessment centre over the past month so I figured I'd make a thread and put all the information in one place so everyone can have access to it since more AC invites seem to be going out at the moment. For reference, I had my AC in mid-December (I was fast-tracked after their First Steps programme) and got the vac scheme offer about a day later.

The assessment centre consisted of a case study, a partner interview, and a group exercise. Here's a run-through of how the day went and any tips I have on how to approach each exercise:

For the case study exercise, I had 45 minutes to prepare a presentation answering a question set out in the instructions. All the information you need is in the document they give you (you don't need any prior knowledge), so you just need to read/skim through it all carefully and make sure you pick up on all the key points (most of these will be quite obvious in the document so don't worry too much about missing anything major). My advice is just to make sure you leave enough time to structure your presentation in a clear and concise manner so you can be sure that you're answering all parts of the question (and so you don't end up rambling or jumping from one point to another during your presentation). One way you could do this is to have a cutoff point for yourself to finish reading so you don't run out of time trying to analyse every single sentence (which is probably what I would have done).

After the case study, I had a partner interview where I presented my case study findings in the first 10 minutes, then the partner asked me some questions about my presentation. For this stage, my advice is just to make sure that if you mention something in your presentation, you know enough about it to answer any follow-up questions about it. For example, if you briefly mention Brexit, be prepared to answer any question about other impacts it may have or what might happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit in this case study (obviously the no-deal part doesn't apply anymore, but you get the point). The questions didn't seem designed to trip me up and seemed more geared towards giving me an opportunity to expand on some of my earlier points and show my knowledge.

The rest of the interview was mostly competency questions (I didn't get any why CMS questions but can't speak for other people's interviews) and one or two basic situational judgment questions. The interview was quite relaxed and flowed more like a natural conversation, so I wasn't asked any difficult follow-up questions or specific commercial questions at any point.

For the group exercise, your group is given a task/question at the beginning of the exercise and then you have 30 minutes to prepare a 10-minute presentation with your group answering that question. The task itself was quite simple and didn't require much prior knowledge, since the point of the exercise is mainly to see how you work with others rather than to test your knowledge. This part of the AC was pretty straightforward, my only advice (even though it's super basic) is to just remember that the assessors are in the breakout room with you to watch how you interact with others, so make sure you're being a positive influence and encouraging others throughout the exercise, while still contributing some of your own ideas/thoughts. I'd also say keep an eye on the time because it can be very easy to get carried away with your discussion and not leave enough time to prepare your parts for the presentation.

That's pretty much it! This was my first assessment centre so I was very nervous and intimidated going into it, but it went by really quickly and I actually ended up enjoying it, so try not to stress over it too much (although I know that's easier said than done)!

I hope this is helpful, let me know if you have any questions!


I also attended an AC in December after being fast-tracked through First Steps and happy to answer any questions that people have- I received a VS offer :) Just thought I'd share some of my experience too!

I defintely agree with the point to make sure you know the reason behind why you mention something like MZ's example of Brexit. I mentioned an issue that would be flagged/practice area that would be involved and the partner interviewing me then confirmed he was a partner in that area and wanted to know more about why I thought that. Luckily he was impressed enough with my answer:D I genuinely found the interview so much better than I thought. The partners who interviewed me were both lovely, they really put me at ease and were super friendly and engaging! I'd also recommend that you have a couple questions prepared that you may have for them.

The case study was difficult virtually as you can't highlight or anything on the document but I found that bullet points and sub-headings were the best way I could note down the information I needed to form my presentation! I had a slight panic when we received a 5 minute time warning and noting bullet points of what I wanted to talk about really helped me get everything down that I needed on time! Content wise I found it much better than anticipated and the issues did stand out.

I can also confirm that I didn't have any 'why CMS' or commercial questions but the partners did say they were choosing questions from a cheat sheet so you just never know- although they did specify it was a competency interview, but I just like to try and be prepared for anything that might crop up!

I found the group task the hardest as with it being online it was hard not to try and speak over each other or get social ques from people, tech delays etc. I agree with MZ that keeping a track of time is super important as it was really easy to get carried away! I also managed to use some background commercial knowledge for this part of the AC to justify why I thought certain things that were relevant to the task! However, I would say that when bringing in other knowledge, make sure that it is relevant to the task you have been set and what they have asked of you.

Good luck everybody :)
 
Last edited:

MZ

Esteemed Member
Forum Winner
Oct 7, 2020
75
440
I also attended an AC in December after being fast-tracked through First Steps and happy to answer any questions that people have- I received a VS offer :) Just thought I'd share some of my experience too!

I defintely agree with the point to make sure you know the reason behind why you mention something like MZ's example of Brexit. I mentioned an issue that would be flagged/practice area that would be involved and the partner interviewing me then confirmed he was a partner in that area and wanted to know more about why I thought that. Luckily he was impressed enough with my answer:D I genuinely found the interview so much better than I thought. The partners who interviewed me were both lovely, they really put me at ease and were super friendly and engaging! I'd also recommend that you have a couple questions prepared that you may have for them.

The case study was difficult virtually as you can't highlight or anything on the document but I found that bullet points and sub-headings were the best way I could note down the information I needed to form my presentation! I had a slight panic when we received a 5 minute time warning and noting bullet points of what I wanted to talk about really helped me get everything down that I needed on time! Content wise I found it much better than anticipated and the issues did stand out.

I can also confirm that I didn't have any 'why CMS' or commercial questions but the partners did say they were choosing questions from a cheat sheet so you just never know- although they did specify it was a competency interview, but I just like to try and be prepared for anything that might crop up!

I found the group task the hardest as with it being online it was hard not to try and speak over each other or get social ques from people, tech delays etc. I agree with MZ that keeping a track of time is super important as it was really easy to get carried away! I also managed to use some background commercial knowledge for this part of the AC to justify why I thought certain things that were relevant to the task! However, I would say that when bringing in other knowledge, make sure that it is relevant to the task you have been set and what they have asked of you.

Good luck everybody :)
Thank you for sharing your tips!! And congratulations on the vac scheme!
 
  • 🤝
Reactions: JW

Lisa Lowe

Legendary Member
Junior Lawyer
Nov 26, 2019
130
106
Thanks MZ and Jade C! Can I ask how did you present your presentation in the individual interview? Did you just provide a overview of the case and main issues to the interviewer and did you have to provide a written response?
 

Jacob Miller

Legendary Member
Future Trainee
Forum Team
  • Feb 15, 2020
    897
    2,362
    Hey everyone! I've had a lot of messages asking about the CMS assessment centre over the past month so I figured I'd make a thread and put all the information in one place so everyone can have access to it since more AC invites seem to be going out at the moment. For reference, I had my AC in mid-December (I was fast-tracked after their First Steps programme) and got the vac scheme offer about a day later.

    The assessment centre consisted of a case study, a partner interview, and a group exercise. Here's a run-through of how the day went and any tips I have on how to approach each exercise:

    For the case study exercise, I had 45 minutes to prepare a presentation answering a question set out in the instructions. All the information you need is in the document they give you (you don't need any prior knowledge), so you just need to read/skim through it all carefully and make sure you pick up on all the key points (most of these will be quite obvious in the document so don't worry too much about missing anything major). My advice is just to make sure you leave enough time to structure your presentation in a clear and concise manner so you can be sure that you're answering all parts of the question (and so you don't end up rambling or jumping from one point to another during your presentation). One way you could do this is to have a cutoff point for yourself to finish reading so you don't run out of time trying to analyse every single sentence (which is probably what I would have done).

    After the case study, I had a partner interview where I presented my case study findings in the first 10 minutes, then the partner asked me some questions about my presentation. For this stage, my advice is just to make sure that if you mention something in your presentation, you know enough about it to answer any follow-up questions about it. For example, if you briefly mention Brexit, be prepared to answer any question about other impacts it may have or what might happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit in this case study (obviously the no-deal part doesn't apply anymore, but you get the point). The questions didn't seem designed to trip me up and seemed more geared towards giving me an opportunity to expand on some of my earlier points and show my knowledge.

    The rest of the interview was mostly competency questions (I didn't get any why CMS questions but can't speak for other people's interviews) and one or two basic situational judgment questions. The interview was quite relaxed and flowed more like a natural conversation, so I wasn't asked any difficult follow-up questions or specific commercial questions at any point.

    For the group exercise, your group is given a task/question at the beginning of the exercise and then you have 30 minutes to prepare a 10-minute presentation with your group answering that question. The task itself was quite simple and didn't require much prior knowledge, since the point of the exercise is mainly to see how you work with others rather than to test your knowledge. This part of the AC was pretty straightforward, my only advice (even though it's super basic) is to just remember that the assessors are in the breakout room with you to watch how you interact with others, so make sure you're being a positive influence and encouraging others throughout the exercise, while still contributing some of your own ideas/thoughts. I'd also say keep an eye on the time because it can be very easy to get carried away with your discussion and not leave enough time to prepare your parts for the presentation.

    That's pretty much it! This was my first assessment centre so I was very nervous and intimidated going into it, but it went by really quickly and I actually ended up enjoying it, so try not to stress over it too much (although I know that's easier said than done)!

    I hope this is helpful, let me know if you have any questions!

    Hi MZ,

    Just wanted to say that I really appreciate you posting this! I'm sure loads of members will benefit from all the fantastic information you've got in here. Thank you!
     
    • 🤝
    Reactions: MZ

    MZ

    Esteemed Member
    Forum Winner
    Oct 7, 2020
    75
    440
    Thanks MZ and Jade C! Can I ask how did you present your presentation in the individual interview? Did you just provide a overview of the case and main issues to the interviewer and did you have to provide a written response?

    Thanks for this advice MZ and Jade C, super helpful! I was wondering if you had any tips on how to prepare for the case study? (its my first one)
    Congrats on getting the VS!

    Hey, thank you for your questions! In terms of format, the case study presentation was verbal, so there was no written response involved.

    As for how it's structured, that will be quite clear from the instructions. For example, some case studies will ask you to just provide a summary of the key facts, in which case you could group together the main issues under a few headings as your main points and go through them in the order you think makes the most sense (for example: you could group together three different factors under "risk of litigation") or you could just go through the biggest issues one by one and talk about the implications for each, depending on which approach you think is the most fitting for that particular case study.

    If the instructions ask for the pros and cons of a particular decision, then it would be pretty simple to determine what structure to use. You could just lay out the key facts and introduce your recommendation/findings (if the instructions ask for it) then go through the pros and the cons, then summarise your key points at the end, including whether you think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and a brief explanation of why.

    The same structure applies if the case study is asking you to choose between two options: you could start by introducing which choice you think is the best option and what criteria you used to determine that, then go through the pros and cons of each option, then conclude by briefly summarising your key points and why those led you to choose the option that you went with.

    There won't be a universal way to structure all presentations, but you will likely be able to tell what structure makes the most sense based on the instructions you're given and the style of the case study. Try not to overthink the structure itself, as long as you start off with an introduction laying out what your presentation will cover, structure your key points in a logical manner, and end with a conclusion that clearly demonstrates your position, you'll be absolutely fine! It doesn't have to be elaborate or anything, it just has to show that you can present the ideas in a clear and logical way so you don't end up rambling, forgetting one or your points, or jumping from point to point and confusing the interviewers if you don't order your points under key headings (if relevant) or in a specific sequence that makes more logical sense.

    In terms of preparing for the case study exercise itself, there isn't that much you can do to anticipate what it's going to be about, but what really helped me was reading commercial/business news articles in publications like the Financial Times and trying to think of as many implications as I could for each article. For example, if I read an article about a change in X industry, I'd ask myself: who are the key players impacted by this and who is benefiting from this change? How will this impact trends in the industry as a whole? How will this impact clients in this industry and what services they require from law firms? If Y and Z industries are dependent on X industry, how will this change impact those industries and clients' needs/behaviours in those areas? How will this impact the wider economy?

    Then I'd try to think of what specific things law firms would need to help with in that situation, and which departments it could involve. For example, if the UK raised corporate tax and made it very high all of a sudden, this may mean that companies may relocate their UK bases/offices to other parts of Europe. This would involve the employment team, as they'll be relocating their employees. It would also involve the real estate team if they need to renegotiate their lease agreements, or even the litigation department if clients decide that it's less expensive to face legal action for breaking their lease than carry out the rest of their 10-year lease agreement. It might involve the tax team if they need to figure out the logistics of how much tax they'll be paying now (it will take all day if I list all the possibilities, but I think you get the point).

    This is by no means an exhaustive list and you don't have to go down the same line of questioning I did (it may be entirely different for articles of a different nature) but it really helps to try to answer as many of these questions as you can think of (you can even have a friend read the article too and quiz you about it to see what answers you can come up with on the spot) because it'll get you in that same mindset of critically analysing all the key factors/parties in a scenario and what implications they could have, which is essentially what you'll be doing in a case study. There are also a few written case study exercises on this forum that you can practice with, here's a link to access those (scroll down to find "written case studies 1 and 2): https://www.thecorporatelawacademy....ies-interviews-and-vacation-scheme-resources/

    I hope this helps, let me know if you need me to clarify anything further!
     

    JW

    Star Member
    Mar 17, 2020
    38
    135
    Just out of curiosity, does the AC solely consist of candidates applying to the same office as you?
    My AC had a variety of applicants who had applied to different offices- although this was a fast-tracked AC from the First Steps Scheme and all the offices were Scottish so I couldn't say for sure if general AC's differ! Good luck :)