Herbert Smith Freehills Interview 2019 - 2020

Discussion in 'Interview Experiences 2019 - 2020 Cycle' started by Jaysen, Mar 18, 2020.

  1. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
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    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    February 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Spring Vacation Scheme

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    Introduction by partner (9:30)
    Case study
    Competency
    Scenario interview

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

    Introduction by partner
    The partner just introduces you to HSF and asks if you have any questions. Probably not assessed.

    Case study
    Wasn’t your typical M&A deal which threw me off a bit because I couldn’t use the stuff I had learnt about indemnities warranties etc. I actually had to think! Make sure you leave yourself enough time to read and plan the presentation.

    Was about a company who bought a former airport landing space and the old company wanting it back and whether they would be granted permission by the secretary of state to force the new company to sell.

    Was quite difficult but my advice is to make sure you read absolutely everything in the booklet and structure your presentation in terms of the questions given. With your answers, cite the exact place in the contract so you’re being clear. It's testing how you comprehend a lot of information so when I didn’t really understand what was going on I made sure that I at least showed that I had read everything and collated the information in a structured manner.

    In some areas there will be more discretion given to the secretary of state so you can look to the facts and be more evaluative and think about whether the national government’s focus on housing and the aim of the new company will affect the decision or whether the historical value of the site and the local impetus to sell back to the original owner will make them sway them the other way. This will make sense when it is in front of you (or you will be a bit luckier and get an M&A deal!)

    My interview was over quite quickly so I thought I had missed something but it was fine. Just chatted with the partner afterwards.

    Competency interview
    This wasn’t really a conversation for me like most people say but it was still enjoyable. It was the really classic competency questions, very easy to prepare for. Classic why law/why hsf (focus on the work never the culture in my opinion). When have you worked in a team or made a mistake , what might you struggle with as a trainee etc. There was then a bit about my application in terms of my answer to the question ‘introduce me to a topic you are interested in’ because I had written about a psychological experiment and the 2016 Presidential election and so it had nothing to do with law.

    Some people were asked more commercial questions -- it varies with the partner.

    Scenario interview
    I got a partner in corporate/ asset management so my scenario was on a supplier who had been late over the last couple of years with delivery. The client wanted to terminate the contract with the supplier so we were exploring the different ways this could be done. Hardest interview for me as a law student who isn’t actually that good at law! The expectation if you are a law student is to be able to use and employ different contractual mechanisms so I would brush up to be successful here The scenario depends on what partner you get though so could be absolutely anything. This was the interview I was most scared for because of this. In my situation it was definitely more legal/commercial awareness rather than situational judgement.

    Varies though -- I think some people's are more situational judgement like than technical.


    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    See Above.

    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 to future applicants
    - Know why you want to work at HSF in relation to the work specifically
    - Brush up on contract law if you are a law student
    - Be confident and defend your viewpoint but also listen to the partner in the case study
    - Listen to podcasts and keep up with the legal world: in my case study I mentioned a PE deal which had nothing to do with HSF but more to do with foreign buyers in the UK and the government reaction to that – it was very relevant in the case study and probably impressed the partner

    Were you successful?

    Yes
     
  2. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
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    Messages:
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    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 arrived at 9am, and I believe we had a talk from Graduate Recruitment at 9.30 am. There were 6 attendees, including myself and everyone was incredibly lovely - we all sat together in the foyer and got to know each other before the talk.
    After the talk, a Partner gave a talk about the day in his life and why he chose to work in HSF. He applauded us for getting this far.

    After the helpful and encouraging talk, the group was split into 2 and we all went to do our separate tasks.

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

    There are three assessments: case study; competency; scenario based problem.

    My first task of the day was the case study, we had 45 minutes to read a contract and had to summarise the information and provide feedback in a 10 minute presentation. I would recommend you brush up on basic contract knowledge, although in-depth is not required. I felt the contract was too long to read (provided the time frame) but make you sure you make loads of notes, and structure your 10 minute presentation to the 'client' with: brief introduction of the case; summarise the contract; what recommendations you would make. After I did my presentation, the partner who pretended to be the client asked some challenging questions and picked up on any points I missed - they want to see how you would react. I would recommend, taking a second giving your answer and appreciating their challenging feedback but submitting you agree with your initial answer because of x y z.

    Following, I had a quick 15 minute tour of the building but honestly we just went up a few escalators and went to the library and cafe - I wish it was more in depth.

    After the tour, I had my competency interview and this was my favourite! I love talking, and the conversation with the senior associate flowed very well and it was quite informal. He was really friendly, and kept complimenting my application. Oppose to other attendees, I did not have the formal, typical competency questions (teamwork etc) so I'm not too sure how to feel about that but do brush up on general competency scenarios with the STAR technique!

    Lastly, I had the scenario based question - the one I was most afraid of! I walk in, the partner introduces herself and she begins sketching out a recent case she has been working on. Truthfully, I am not a visual learner and I struggled to understand the problem scenario because of it. She asked me where I would begin, and how I would go about it. It was honestly very difficult, and there's no way to prepare for it. I would begin by clarifying at the start what you gathered from the scenario, and ask further questions before approaching it.

    The day ended with a very quick lunch, and you receive feedback a few hours later.

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    Case study: What would you recommend? Are you sure about that? Is there anything I should be aware of?

    Competency: Why law? (It was very much a conversation, so answers came naturally without questions if they makes sense)

    Scenario based: Where would you begin?

    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: Make lots of notes and structure your presentation well. A key note, is remain formal! I tried so hard to show personality, that I would do small chuckles at the questions and I really regret this (you can show your personality at the competency interview!).

    Competency: Make a list of questions, why law, why that firm, work in a team etc..

    Scenario based: Watch consulting interviews, and make sure you have a general understanding of what all the firms sectors do. Make sure you clear up uncertainties before beginning to answer the problem.

    I got rejected because they said I did not perform that well in the technical capabilities, but scored highly in everything else. At first I was mad and confused, but looking back at it - I wish I remained professional, tried to understand the scenario based problem a lot better because I did zone out when she began drawing the problem and had watched consulting videos because they're really helpful for two of the tasks.

    Were you successful?

    No
     
  3. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
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    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    January 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Summer Vacation Scheme 2020

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    There were 6 others on the assessment day as well. We arrived for 9am and were all taken to a room together. There was a brief talk from Graduate Recruitment till around 10am. Then a Partner came and gave us an overview of the firm, the practice and the international nature of HSF. This lasted for approximately 30mins, and you also have an opportunity to ask them a questions, if you want.

    After that, we were split into groups to do the 3 various exercises on the day.

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

    My group first had competency interviews separately. This lasted for just over 30mins and involved the usual strength-based questions. It was conducted by a single senior associate from the firm and was fairly relaxed. Although not many questions were asked, the associate tends to ask lots of follow up questions and probe you further on some things you've set - so be prepared to justify/go further in your explanations of examples/attributes.

    Then, I was taken back to the room by a member of HR, where I waited for around 45mins for my next exercise to start.

    I was then taken into a room with 3 others to start the case study exercise. You will be given a booklet with lots of documents and information and a notebook & pen to make notes. You will have 45mins to read through the booklet, make notes (which you can take with you to the interview) and answer the designed questions. There is a big clock in the room, but make sure you manage your time well as the case study is very legalistic! HR will remind you when you have 5 mins left.

    After that, you are taken to the room where a Partner will be acting as the client. Be prepared to be pushed! The case study is pretty difficult and involves actual law and statutory provisions which you must be familiar with. THOUGH - commercial awareness and business skills are also necessary here

    When I finished the case study, I was then taken to the same room. There was time to have lunch and a drink before I was taken to commence the last exercise, scenario-based interview.

    The scenario-based interview is conducted by a senior associate, you can't really prepare for this at all. Mine involved an asset-finance transaction, involving a Russian airliner who had leased aircraft on credit. The senior associate will give you the bare bones of the real transaction and ask you questions about some legal risks faced, possible mitigation strategies and how you (as a future trainee) would tackle them. You will also be asked about the role of trainees in such kind of transactions e.g. DD/client contacts/Documentary drafting. Commercial awareness and contract law were useful here.

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    - Why HSF?
    - Why did you study law?
    - A time when you worked in a team to achieve a goal?
    - A situation where you managed a conflict?
    - How do you manage your time?
    - Also, further questions about the topic you chose to write about in your application

    Case study interview: The partner will prompt you if you get lost!

    - Follow up questions about what you say, particularly around the fact pattern and the statutory provisions provided (FICTIONAL)
    - If they get stuck, the partner will give you time to go back through you notes/the booklet to find an answer
    - Important to demonstrate commercial awareness here, it is not a legal test! Make sure you link the scenario to other real-life commercial situations to boost your answer

    Scenario-based interview:

    - Questions about how a finance document is structured
    - Loan negotiation questions
    - Airliner difficulties and the knock-on effect on contractual obligations

    * I found this interview law-heavy and got really technical with questions about actual legal provisions in asset finance insurance policies to mitigate client risks

    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.

    Competency interview:

    - Go over your application and know what you wrote about because they will undoubtedly bring it up and probe you further on it
    - Make sure you know the STAR technique and use it
    - Don't waffle, make sure your answer is structured !!
    - Ask them to repeat questions if you did not understand

    Case-study interview:

    - You can't really make any preparations for this, but do follow the question guidance in the booklet.
    - Manage your time well!
    - A basic understanding of contract law is helpful. Though, commercial awareness is critical here, so do not treat this as an exercise in statutory construction!!!

    Scenario-based interview:
    - Preparation is probably a waste of time for this exercise. It is really unpredictable and will depend on who interviews you and their particular area of law
    - A general understanding of commerce, international business and trade will be helpful


    Were you successful?

    No
     
  4. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
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    Messages:
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    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    January 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Summer Vacation Scheme 2020

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    9.15am arrival, 9.30am Talk from a Partner, 10am wait around for interviewers to be free, then around 10.45am competency interview with a senior associate (40 minutes), 11.30am case study interview with a partner (40 minutes) , then lunch and an office tour with trainees, followed by a situational judgement interview with a partner (40 minutes)

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

    Partner talk: this was a general overview of HSF and what they do, nothing that we wouldn't already know through research/previous encounters with the firm. It was led by a partner, who was also interviewing later on (and interviewed me for my case study segment)

    Waiting: takes place in a small conference room, with the graduate recruitment team dropping in and out now and again.

    Competency interview: we were told at the start that this would be a conversation without any set structure and it would take us wherever the conversation flowed. After being asked Why HSF and why commercial law, we ended up spending about 20 minutes of the 35 discussing a recent commercial article that I dropped into conversation that he then probed me on further and further.

    Case study interview: after being given the time to read and write up on a case study that we had to analyse for about 30 minutes, we went into a partner interview where we were asked to present (around 10 minutes) before launching into a discussion on what I had previously discussed and anything else of note within the M&A transaction case.
    Lunch and office tour: very standard, with trainee accompaniment
    Situational judgement interview: also with a partner, we had to act as though we were a trainee and describe how we would operate within certain situations such as another trainee felt overwhelmed and wanted to take some time off and stop working.

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    What would your main criteria be when ultimately choosing which firm you would want to train at?
    Why HSF/why commercial law?
    Tell me about a recent news article/transaction that has interested you.
    What did you learn at your previous vacation scheme?

    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.

    Take note of who the graduate recruitment contacts are, as well as the partner who gives the original talk at the beginning as he also interviews later on for certain candidates.
    Act friendly - it is really key at HSF to come across as someone that they would enjoy working with
    Try and be clear and concise in the case study written element/writing notes, so that you can best gather your thoughts when it comes to presenting your ideas.
    For the competency, engaging in the discussion is key but you do have the ability to decide to some extent (based on who your interviewer is) where it will go. I had a good knowledge of a commercial article therefore felt comfortable talking about this for over 20 minutes of the interview.

    Were you successful?

    Yes
     
  5. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
    Staff Member

    Messages:
    3,399
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    TCLA Credits:
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    Please state the month/year you interviewed at the firm.

    January 2020

    Please specify what the interview was for.

    Summer Vacation Scheme 2020

    Please give an overview of the day with approximate timings.

    9am Arrival, 9:15am Grad Recruitment Talk, 9:30am Talk from Partner, 10 - 10:45am Case Study prep, 10:50 - 11:25am Case Study Interview, 11:25- 12 Break/Office Tour, 12 - 12:35pm Competency Interview, 12:50pm Scenario Interview 1:25pm , End

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

    1. Case-Study (interviewed by a Dispute Resolution partner)
    a. 45 minutes prep time, followed by a 10 minute oral presentation with 20/25 minutes of questions on the said presentation/content afterwards.
    - My case study was on a planning permission application and I had to present on the lawfulness of the planning permission and if my client could stop it. There was a (fictional) statute in the pack that I had to use to back up my argument.

    2. Competency (interviewed by a Corporate/M&A senior associate)
    a. Approximately 30/35 minutes long.

    3. Scenario (interviewed by an Intellectual Property partner
    a. Approximately 30/35 minutes long.
    - Partner explained a case he had led and asked me questions on what I would do if I was in certain situations.
    - They will highlight particular issues which they encountered, and ask you how you would have gone about handling the particular occurrence

    Please list any interview questions you were asked.

    - Why commercial law?
    - Why HSF?
    - Tell me about a time when you made a significant contribution to a team? Any complications when working in a team?
    - Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a large workload and manage your time efficiently?
    - Tell me about a time when your organisation [mentioned in my prior answer] did not work?
    - Tell me about a time when you have had to deal with a difference of opinion or conflict?
    - Situation where you have demonstrated leadership?
    - Name biggest strength and weakness

    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.

    - Be calm and relaxed, the interviewers are very friendly and the day overall was enjoyable!
    - With each scenario interview, listen carefully to what the partner is telling you before answering each question as you might miss a key point in the scenario that is important to answer the question. Also in the scenario interview, when you get a chance, make sure you ask relevant questions about the matter to clarify it. The more incisive the question, the more the partner opens up and the interview becomes more fun!
    - With the case study, use your time wisely. Quite a lot of information to condense in the given time so keep your eye on the clock.

    Were you successful?

    Yes
     

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