Huge props to this candidate for sharing such a detailed overview! This candidate successfully secured the HSF vacation scheme. Overview of the firm’s selection process Two question application form -> blended online test (SJT, VRT, personality test) -> Assessment centre (case study, competency interview, scenario-based interview). Number of interviewers and positions held (e.g. Graduate Recruitment/Partner) Three interviewers, all were partners in different practice areas. Format 9:25am – Welcome from GR. (late start, was scheduled for 9 am) 9:45am – Started reading case study. 10:30am – Head back to the main room. 10:40am – Taken to the partner who pretends to be case study client and asks questions. 11:15am – Head back to the main room. 11:20am – Went to competency interview with another partner. 12:10pm – Head back to the main room. 12:10-13:00pm – Office tour with a first seat trainee and then lunch in the main room. 13:00pm – Went to the scenario-based interview. 13:50pm – Went back to the main room and waited for others to return. 14:00pm – HR explained that the day was over and we saw ourselves out. Overview of each assessment you undertook with rough timings for each section For case study interview: 45 minutes to read the information provided and prepare a 10-minute presentation answering the two questions provided. (There are four other questions that you must consider as they will likely be asked as a follow up at the end of the presentation). After this I met with the client (a partner) to deliver a 10-minute presentation and then 25 minutes were allocated for the partner to ask the four additional questions. You may or may not get through them, most important is giving realistic and rational advice. For competency-based interview: 40-minute interview based on your motivations and competencies. A few minor discussions referring to your application, you should be bringing up aspects of your application yourself too. For scenario-based interview: 40-50 minutes of going over a case that the partner has worked on. This is testing your commercial awareness and thought process. For law students, its best to go over contract law and the processes of an acquisition but again, it’s difficult to prepare for this as you are effectively trying to reach a solution in 45 minutes that a partner of the firm has reached. The partner will of course, help you reach the conclusion. Interview Questions I was Asked Why law? Why commercial law? Why HSF? A time you led a group project and any challenges? How have you motivated your team mates? A time you made a mistake and what you did to fix it? A time you had to balance multiple priorities and meet deadlines? Three of your top skills? In what way has (your topic of interest) helped you in terms of your other hobbies/ activities/experience? Why is technology so important to law firms? Top Tips Competency-based interview You need to show interest through body language. Non-verbal cues tell a lot more than I thought. I was praised for smiling a lot. Compliment other candidates as well, I like to make people smile and I cracked appropriate jokes with partners and colleagues. I would be lying if I say I didn’t prepare any in advance. Don’t wait for them to ask you questions like “why does that sector you mentioned appeal to you” quantify all your statements with your personal experience. When answering “tell me about a mistake you made or a time you failed and how you solved it”? I was honest about a mistake I made and I explicitly took responsibility for it and used my initiative to resolve the problem. Try to be reflective, show that you thought about what you did and how you prevent it from happening again. And of course, use your discretion. Don’t go off on a major mistake you made, but equally ensure that it is still a mistake at the end of the day – don’t try to spin it! Case Study I followed the FIRAC acronym to deliver my presentation. Facts, Issues, Rules, Analysis, Conclusion. Facts Who is who (who is your client, who is the opposing side, what are they disputing?) What do we know about your client’s goal vs the other party’s goal? Issues What are the main issues regarding the case? What has the client identified as being the main issue? Start to answer the presentation questions (do not go into the additional questions, unless otherwise states, they are supposed to be asked at the end and you don’t have time) Rules What are the relevant clauses? Who benefits more from the clauses? Does your client have a winning case, if not then why i.e. does the clauses state otherwise? Does the available statistics favour the opposing side or not? Analysis Analyse the case from an objective point of view but with your client’s interests in mind, perhaps offer alternative solutions if the strength of the case isn’t favourable for your client. Conclusion Summarise the facts of the case, your recommendations, and finally ask if the client has any questions. I made a mistake in my interview. Some candidates will try to spin it to make it seem like it is not a mistake. You have to truthfully evaluate if you are wrong (which I was) so I backtracked on a matter. Alternatively, do not backtrack because the client makes you feel like you’re wrong if you don’t think you are. I also asked the client to give me a moment while I reviewed the information. I did this at least on three different occasions. It is better than giving nonsensical advice. I think the partner was impressed that my answer had a law minded approach. This was only possible because I researched how to answer law questions and found one that suited me! Scenario-based interview You can’t really prepare for this. The best advice I can give is to study contract law and acquisitions in detail. Contract law- what makes a contract legally binding (five key terms), under what circumstances can you suspend an agreement? Etc. Acquisitions – where can the firm secure funds from? Loans, debt, cash reserve, bonds, IPO. What are the +/- of each type. How do you structure a financial deal? Asset based purchase or share based? +/- of each type. What is the buyer’s protection in terms of the acquisition target’s assets and liabilities? What is collateral? What is security? Also consider non-compete agreements. What practice areas would be involved in this process and why? All of this information can be found in the commercial law hand book by Jake Schogger. I was interviewed by a partner in the international arbitration practice on a multidimensional issue that involved multiple foreign parties, political issues and a contract dispute at its centre. The solution to the problem, I later found out, was in the contract law section of the commercial law handbook! I was kicking myself for this, as I thought the answer was impossible, yet if I was a bit more prepared I could have impressed massively here. Still, I gave solutions that the lawyers actually explored (but did not execute), and I think I was given some leniency for demonstrating commercial awareness and of course, being a non-law student. The partner helped me a lot. I laughed when I found it difficult and he laughed too. At some points he had to spell out the answer. I used this as an opportunity to repeat what he said in my own words to demonstrate that I am now on the same page. The solution to the second part of the case was elaborate. There was no way I would have thought of it but I remarked on how sophisticated the solution was, especially in addressing all aspects of the problem. They don’t expect you to work it out but they want to see your thought process and whether you shut down. I asked to clarify various points I didn’t understand. Don’t be afraid to do this. - Not sure if this is helpful but another candidate explained that his case was based on management funds so this just demonstrates the wide variation in cases and why it’s unlikely you can prepare for the scenario-based interview beyond strengthening your commercial knowledge in terms of business law.