What do we look for?
It’s important for you to put your best foot forward with your application.
The below information and tips will help you understand what we are looking for at each stage and get your best self across.
What we look for
Our selection process is underpinned by several competencies and skills that are closely aligned with our values of being Authentic, Collaborative, Committed and Forward Looking. We look for a range of these competencies at each stage of our selection process.
The application form
This is the first stage in the process and you will want to try and stand out from other applicants. The first way in which you can do this is to tailor your application to our firm, and we don’t mean to copy what you read on our website! Do your research. Of course, you will want to look at our website and social media accounts, but where else can you find out information on what it’s like to work at Charles Russell Speechlys and the type of work that we do? Or have you had the opportunity to meet someone at the Firm? This will really help you answer the questions around why you are applying to us. We want to understand which areas of our work really excite you and why so have this in mind while researching.
Secondly, be yourself. Be honest about yourself and your experience and don’t write what you think we want to hear – trust us, we’ve heard that before! Demonstrate to us through your application what you are passionate about and why.
Next, think about using examples that put your best foot forward or show you going the extra mile. It’s a competitive process so how can you highlight experiences where you have challenged yourself and gone above and beyond? Think about showing a range of skills and how you achieved these, not just the end result – we want to see the journey you took to get there so try and talk practically with lots of verbs in the first person.
Work experience is a question we get asked about a lot – how much work experience is enough? Does it matter that I have no legal work experience? What we are looking for in your work experience section is that you are motivated and that you have developed skills that are needed in the workplace. Motivation can come in a number of ways. For example, if you have been lucky enough to secure some legal work experience it shows that you are motivated to pursue a career in law and may be useful in some of your reasoning as to why this is the career for you. However, we understand how difficult this can be and not everyone may have legal work experience. Likewise, having a Saturday job every week throughout your studies shows that you are motivated in your work and also demonstrates that you can juggle your studies whilst holding down a part-time job. You’ll have also developed lots of valuable transferable skills that we want to see such as teamwork, organisation or communication. Work experience can also include virtual experiences or events, open days or volunteering – it's always better to include something if you’re not sure it 100% counts as it shows us more about you than leaving it out. When describing your work experience, whether legal or non-legal, you should explain what you did and what you learnt so we can get a real feel of what you gained during your time there.
Finally, attention to detail is key. Make sure to check, and double-check your application before submitting it. You wouldn’t want poor spelling or grammar to hinder all of your time and effort.
The video interview
This is not a live interview, instead you will be asked to record answers to a set of questions using your webcam or mobile device using our online platform called Shortlister. You can record your answers in your own time, usually within a 5-day window from receiving the invite.
Preparation is key for the video interviews. For each question you can only record your answers once so there is no second chance. You get around 30 seconds to prepare and 90 seconds to answer each of the questions unless you’ve requested extra time. To help with this, we recommend that you think in advance about what kind of questions you may be asked and prepare for these. The questions will be similar to those that you may experience in a face-to-face interview so may include competency or skill-based questions and questions about your motivations for pursuing a career in law. We may also ask you commercially focused questions – don’t panic, we aren’t expecting you to be a business expert, it’s more about showcasing your wider commercial interests and understanding of how the legal sector works.
It sounds strange but practice by recording yourself answering example questions on your phone and watch it back. You can also do this through the Shortlister practice interview site where you can try out the Shortlister technology and prepare yourself for what the real interview will be like.
When practising you can be self-critical and think about how you can improve the content quality of your answers. What we are after is depth and detail in your responses that show you are considered, well researched and logical in your approach. We want your answers to be tailored and specific to you as this helps us to get to know you better. Have a look at our application tips videos here which can give you some more guidance.
When you’re ready to complete the interview, you’ll want to find somewhere quiet. Have a think about what will be visible in the background and try to ensure its tidy. We are used to seeing people complete their video interviews in their bedroom, university breakout space, or even their garden so please don’t feel that it has to look particularly formal. The most important thing is the content of what you are saying! If you are worried about not having anywhere quiet to complete your video interview, feel free to get in touch with us and we can talk about your requirements and any way that we can support you.
When completing the video interview, try to relax and enjoy the experience. Aim your body language towards the screen and try to focus on the camera but you won’t need to make ‘eye contact’ the whole time – it’s more important you feel natural. You can also opt to blur your camera so you can’t see yourself while being recorded. Don’t worry if you trip over your words or the doorbell rings in the background, remain calm and continue with your answer. If anything goes wrong on the day, just get in touch with us to explain the circumstances and we can take that into account.
The written task
The written task is part of the final stage assessment centre or placement scheme but we will often ask you to complete this in advance of the assessment day so you can complete this virtually through an online platform. On the day, you’ll have a live virtual briefing with our Early Talent Team where you can ask any questions.
Our written task is designed to get you thinking about client and commercial issues alongside demonstrating strong written and analysis skills. You’ll be required to digest some information and produce a written response accordingly. As it’s a written exercise, you’ll want to think about ensuring you factor in time to plan, and then review your work. Attention to detail is important, and while we are all human, try to leave enough time to check your spelling and grammar.
We appreciate everyone will have a different level of legal knowledge, so we won’t be assessing you on this element. Instead, the task will have a commercial focus and be centred around a topic that everyone will have some touchpoints with.
Useful tips for written tasks
- Have a plan – A bit like creating an essay plan or an exam question plan, think about the structure of your written piece at the beginning so you can ensure your work is clearly laid out, thought through and covers the areas you need.
- Timekeeping – Leave enough time at the end so you can review your work before submitting.
- Attention to detail – Please check your spelling and grammar! It’s also important to think about sentence structure and consistency of formatting.
- Formatting – You can use headings, bullet points, underlining and different size text to your advantage. Consider how your formatting aids the reader and provides clarity and structure to your work.
- Depth of reasoning – When you make any key points or arguments, you’ll want to add in examples or explanations as to why that may be a key consideration or important. We will be looking for clear judgement and weighing up of arguments so you’ll need to ensure you go beyond high level statements.
- Make sure you ask for adjustments! – If you require reasonable adjustment, please ask. It’s important you have the right support in place to give you the best chance of success. We are happy to grant extra time when needed but if you would like to talk to us about what your reasonable adjustments may look like, please get in touch as this can look different for everyone.
The assessment centre
The assessment centre is the final stage in our process and is your opportunity to demonstrate your skills and enthusiasm. You will take part in a variety of activities – a group task, a face-to-face interview with a Partner and an Associate or member of HR, and a role play exercise.
For your interview, preparation is key. We want to see that you are passionate not only about the law, but also about us as a firm. You will have researched the firm when you first applied but make sure you go through this again. You’ll also want to prepare for motivational, competency and commercial type interview questions (see our videos for additional hints and tips).
In the group exercise, you’ll be given a chance to prepare some topics for discussion in advance, and then work with a group on the day. We appreciate that everyone has a different personality and some are more shy or confident than others so we will be focusing on the quality of your contribution and not your delivery manner.
For the role play, you’ll work with an associate or recruitment professional to showcase your curiosity, analytical and decision-making skills. There isn’t anything to prepare in advance and you should prepare to be keen and curious for this task.
Across all our assessments, we don’t test your legal knowledge as we understand that you may not have had exposure to legal training, either through your studies or work experience. Instead, we are assessing your potential and the skills that you would need to become successful lawyers. Make sure you are up to date on what is going on in the news so that you can demonstrate your commercial awareness.
The assessment centre is a two-way process. As much as we are assessing you, you will also want to assess us to see whether you can see yourself working here. On the day you will meet with trainees and partners from across the firm so think about what questions you may want to ask them. It also shows that you are interested in us.
Finally, and most importantly, be yourself. We celebrate individuality so we want to get to know you. Try to relax and enjoy yourself.
We are able to make adjustments for those who require it at any stage of the application process. We encourage you to get in touch with our Early Talent team if you think this might apply. It’s important to us that you have the right arrangements to perform at your best so if you aren’t sure, it’s always best to ask and we are happy to help.
More tips for success
A selection of videos to prepare you for what is involved in the application process.
View our most frequently asked questions from trainees.
Find out everything you need to know about our apprenticeship programme here.
We offer UK Training Contracts in our London, Cheltenham and Guildford offices.
Find out about the upcoming Placement Schemes at Charles Russell Speechlys.
Our Application Process
Apply for our Graduate and Apprenticeship opportunities.