Top tips from a trainee: how to do well on the assessment day

You've made it through your written application and interviews, and you've finally reached the assessment day stage. What happens next?

The assessment day will test your skills, knowledge and commercial awareness through various exercises. Whilst this might sound daunting, with preparation and understanding of what is being tested, you will be equipped with the skills to make a good impression on the recruiters.

Group exercise

The aim of the group exercise is to test your teamwork and interpersonal skills. Ensure to read the brief carefully and work with your team to agree on a structure early on and stick to it.

This is a great opportunity to show how you work with other people by considering their views and encouraging everyone to have the opportunity to speak. You may wish to take turns to share your thoughts, vote on the preferred idea or split the task into different sections.

While it can be tempting to try and prove your abilities by racing ahead, the purpose of this task is to demonstrate how well you work with others to achieve the task in the time allocated. It is key to be a good listener and considerate of others.

Top tips: listen to everyone in the group, stick to the brief and be mindful of time.

Written exercise

Many applicants worry about their legal knowledge when it comes to the written exercise. In fact, your written communication skills are the key to doing well in the written task.

Carefully consider what you are being asked to do to ensure you address the demands of the question, and that the style of your writing is correct for the addressee. For example, written communications to a client would differ from an email to your supervisor. You should avoid jargon or complex language.

Top tips: Clear and coherent writing is the aim. Use short sentences and effective punctuation to make your writing readable. Also consider the appropriate formalities for your writing.

Dos and Don't for the Assessment day

Don't:

  • Use your phone – this can come across as rude and a waste of time on the day.
  • See the other attendees as your competition. You're not fighting for a spot and you may end up training together one day!
  • Be put off if you don't have any legal experience. You will have gained valuable skills from all hobbies, interests, education and work you've done to date even if they do not relate to law. Identify what skills you have learned from your experiences and use these as evidence on the day. If you've got to the assessment day stage, the recruiters have seen evidence of your potential and want to see if you're the right "fit" for the firm.

Do:

  • Ask questions and show a genuine interest in what everybody does. Everyone plays a key role in the firm which is useful to understand.
  • Be friendly and polite.
  • Research the firm, sectors, seats, recent work and the interviewers beforehand.
  • Keep commercial awareness considerations in mind throughout the day in all tasks. To read more about commercial awareness on an assessment day, see here.
  • Recognise that you're applying to be a trainee and you're not expected to be the finished product yet!

And finally… be yourself! Firms are interested in getting to know you for you and you've got to the assessment day for a reason! It's an achievement to get this far and you should be proud of this accomplishment.

To read more about training with Michelmores, click here.