Commercial Awareness Past Interview Questions and Topics

Discussion in 'Commercial Awareness Forum' started by Alice G, Oct 16, 2019.

  1. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
    TCLA Moderator

    Messages:
    1,200
    Trophy Points:
    152
    TCLA Credits:
    2,964
    Hi Everyone,

    Hope you are all well and having a great week!

    I just thought I’d start a new thread about which commercial related questions and topics came up last year at interviews and ACs. I think these can be the toughest and most curve-ball questions so it would be good to maybe compile what we all experienced so that we can be as prepared as possible this cycle!!

    For me, I had ‘please tell us about a recent news story and why it would impact a law firm like us’. And I was also given an M&A case study and asked to discuss which departments would be involved with the deal. In a VI, I was also asked to talk about a business I admire and why :)

    Interested to hear what you guys had!!
     
    • Like Like x 9
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  2. Abstruser

    Abstruser Legendary Member
    Future Trainee

    Messages:
    335
    Trophy Points:
    207
    TCLA Credits:
    992
    Great idea! Some tricky ones I've encountered:
    • What are your three top business predictions for the year ahead?
    • Your client was offered a £1m contract to clean the city of London. What legal and commercial issues would you flag up?
    • Do you think social media platforms should be regulated? (in the context of German proceedings against Facebook at the time)
     
    #2 Abstruser, Oct 16, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2019
    • Like Like x 6
    • Winner Winner x 1
  3. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
    TCLA Moderator

    Messages:
    1,200
    Trophy Points:
    152
    TCLA Credits:
    2,964
    sure, I can’t really remember the business I admire but I spoke about the devastating Boeing crash which had happened that week for the news story and tried to say how that might impact their finances and reputation but I just came up with it on the spot and tried to think how each department might be somehow involved from a legal perspective. Obviously disputes was a major point with that one too. I wasn’t 100% but they respected my approach and that I showed them a thought process so I’d say that’s key :)

    As for my case study it was awful but now I’d just go through the different departments and give that question a good go :)
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Winner Winner x 1
  4. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
    Staff Member

    Messages:
    3,357
    Trophy Points:
    204
    TCLA Credits:
    9,414
    Here's some recent questions candidates have reported back with:
    • How can we maintain our competitive advantage?
    • A friend has £5m and they want to purchase a piece of farm land to develop an amusement park on, what advice you do give them?
    • (This was from a real estate partner at a real estate focused firm): how are e-commerce companies benefiting from the real estate market)? What edge do e-commerce companies have over traditional retailers in the e-commerce market?
    • Given the fact that clients in London are typically less willing to pay the exorbitant fees they do in places like NYC, what can law firms do to increase profits in London?
    • What are warranties and indemnities?
    • How is our magic circle firm different to other firms/magic circle?
    • What are ways which you can acquire the company & what exactly are you buying?
    • How does the case study reflect what work you will do as a trainee at our firm?
    • If we were given an indemnity, how would we protect the client in ensuring that the money that is put aside for the indemnity if litigation were to happen be kept safe?
    • Do you think we should hire less lawyers because of AI
    • How would we bill clients for work if processes are done so much more cheaply with AI? How would we make our money?
     
    • Like Like x 5
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  5. Karin

    Karin Valued Member

    Messages:
    108
    Trophy Points:
    82
    TCLA Credits:
    413
    Hi, thank you for sharing!

    If you don't mind me asking, with what firms did you encounter these questions?
     
  6. Abstruser

    Abstruser Legendary Member
    Future Trainee

    Messages:
    335
    Trophy Points:
    207
    TCLA Credits:
    992
    Certainly, these were with Ashurst and Slaughters.
     
  7. CTST

    CTST Distinguished Member

    Messages:
    71
    Trophy Points:
    47
    TCLA Credits:
    425
    Thanks @Abstruser! May I ask how you answered the commercial awareness questions, and how you structured your response to them?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Abstruser

    Abstruser Legendary Member
    Future Trainee

    Messages:
    335
    Trophy Points:
    207
    TCLA Credits:
    992
    Did you mean the questions I posted specifically, or commercial awareness questions generally?

    If specifically:

    The ‘prediction’ question was really just based on broad trends I’d been reading about at the time (around December last year). My predictions were:
    1. Brexit wouldn’t happen by 30 March 2019, and would be kicked further down the road due to lack of political consensus
    2. The US-China trade war would simmer down and eventually reach a trade deal, as the two countries need each other more than they cared to admit at the time. I also mentioned the general background of countries agreeing FTAs and BITs with each other (I referenced an Economist podcast I had heard just the week before).
    3. Eurozone economy would do badly over the next year due to Brexit, Italian elections, German automotive industry, French protests
    In hindsight these weren’t particularly groundbreaking predictions (although they have aged quite well if I may say so myself :p). It was just a matter of showing that I had been keeping up with broad commercial trends and was able to justify my predictions. I wasn’t questioned further on these predictions.

    The ‘contract’ question was more tricky, and I encountered that at an Open Day actually. I really just tried to apply PESTEL:
    1. Political: Cleaning public spaces might be classed as providing public services, so I would want to flag up to my client the possibility of being subject to additional or stricter regulations.
    2. Economic: Did £1m include provision for interest? £1m in 10 years might be worth a lot less after inflation, etc.
    3. Social: N/A
    4. Technological: N/A
    5. Environmental: Who would be responsible for disposing of the waste? If it were my client, how should they dispose of it (incinerating, landfill, recycling etc)? The manner of disposal might rack up extra costs, which I might want reflected in the contract price.
    6. Legal: In terms of definitions, what did ‘city of London’ mean? Did it mean the Square Mile or London generally?
    The 'regulation' question was very open-ended - there's no real right or wrong answer for these opinion-based questions. I just picked a side based on my personal views and backed it up quite generally. I didn't answer with any technical knowledge. Things I raised included:
    1. Whether social media platforms should be regulated on a 'strict liability' or a 'wilful blind eye' basis
    2. The right to data privacy
    3. The right to informed consent

    Those answers are by no means perfect, but I hope it gives you a sense of how to answer different kinds of commercial awareness questions!
     
    #8 Abstruser, Nov 4, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
    • Like Like x 3
    • Useful Useful x 3
    • Informative Informative x 2
  9. CTST

    CTST Distinguished Member

    Messages:
    71
    Trophy Points:
    47
    TCLA Credits:
    425
    • Like Like x 1
  10. P. Dybala

    P. Dybala Star Member

    Messages:
    47
    Trophy Points:
    49
    TCLA Credits:
    28
    Hey Guys - I was asked that a company that wanted to list on the FTSE 100 fell short and now has to list on the FTSE 250 - What is the impact of that?

    and the company in question - has cut its maximum valuation for the IPO from £22 a share to £20 - What is the significance?

    Would anybody share their views on this - I am failing to explain or reach to the answers for this?

    In the interview, I said some random reason that I don't remember and am pretty sure it was inaccurate.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  11. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
    TCLA Moderator

    Messages:
    1,200
    Trophy Points:
    152
    TCLA Credits:
    2,964
    Very interesting questions and thank you for sharing.

    I think with the FTSE 100/250 part I’d be inclined to say that it’s a prestige thing for the company and also its attractiveness to potential shareholders. I think you could arguably make the point that FTSE 250 companies are those which are relatively more risky but that do offer a higher rate of return if their growth potential comes to fruition so you could make that point I guess so as to not seem too negative about the 250 index.

    lowering the price of the shares is also relatively tricky. It means the company will not be generating as much cash from the listing as it would have done if the shares were selling at $22. Listings tend to be underwritten which means a bank promises to buy whatever shares are not bought by the public so you could argue that with that slightly better price there could be a diminished risk of the bank having to underwrite the shares. If it is publicly known that the shares have been devalued then this could be a point to state that there might be some degree of reputation damage or a bit of a question over the company’s strength and performance. If not, then it might not be too significant and merely indicate an initial share valuation was incorrect.

    not sure if this is ‘right’ but without researching and just going off what I know and understand that’s what I would’ve said and come up with :)
     
    • Winner Winner x 3
    • Like Like x 2
    • Dislike Dislike x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  12. W

    W Legendary Member

    Messages:
    242
    Trophy Points:
    82
    TCLA Credits:
    703
    Following what Alice said you could also give a brief example of M&S who dropped out of of the FTSE 100 and traded as a FTSE 250, likely to affect the reputation of the company ect to reiterate Alice’s point
     
    • Informative Informative x 3
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
    TCLA Moderator

    Messages:
    1,200
    Trophy Points:
    152
    TCLA Credits:
    2,964
    Great example! Ties in with competitiveness of the supermarket space (thinking Sainsbury’s/ASDA) and you could even reference the fact M&S now have gotten a deal with Ocado as a means to move forwards with delivery services and online shopping. Ocado previously had a deal with Waitrose so the M&S partnership is quite significant
     
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Like Like x 1

Share This Page