I am currently applying to a city firm where one of their application form questions is: "Please detail one change that you think ______ should make in order to ensure its continuing success. Please provide your reasons."
I am finding this question quite tough with respect to how to approach it and what to pick as a change without potentially insulting the firm. I would expect the firm to be focussed on 'how' the question is answered rather than 'what' is recommended as the change.
Any general advice on this would be much appreciated!
How do you know that any advice you might read would be good? Everyone else might be falling into the same trap.
The only thing I could say is that you should decide for yourself what you think they are trying to find out with that question. Do you think they want to know how much you know about them, or do you think they just want to see who puts down something dumb so they can open the trapdoor on them?
Most practice areas are facing challenges in one form or another at the moment. Others may disagree, but I would take that question as more of a general one rather than criticising a particular policy of that firm. Running a business is not just about internal development within that business, but also reacting to industry changes that all businesses within that industry will have to respond to. For me that question is asking about the latter rather than the former, so you should be able to answer it constructively rather than critically.
I know which firm this question is from... I told them to focus on continuing to expand internationally (as they've just opened a few offices recently) in order to combat losses of revenue in recession-related departments... something along those lines if that makes sense, I got a telephone interview and to AC so it must have worked!
I also answered this question for a VS app (some time ago), however did not get an interview offer. So perhaps take this as a 'what not to write' haha:
- I discussed how a small number of other City firms had increased opportunities for Trainees and NQ's to undertake courses aimed at boosting their commercial understanding (think Simmons offering Trainees MBA's), and discusses whether this is something clients will see as truly desireable/value adding.
I think Med2Ky's answer is not a bad one but I think the firm is looking to see whether you understand the specific issues facing it. That might be:
- cuts to Legal Aid if it is a criminal firm, or
- public sector cuts if it has a lot of clients from that sector, or
- the fact that it is now looks undersized compared to its chief rivals which have all merged (could apply to a domestic firm or an international one that hasn't kept pace with the likes of Norton Rose)
Identify a problem, and think up a solution. Eg. Clients strapped for cash because of recession? Implement more innovative billing structures.
In case anyone else is struggling with a similiar questions, I've opted for identifying an opportunity market changes have opened for the firm and suggested how they could take advantage of this chance.