The Student Room Group

Training Contract Interview with Allen & Overy


I have just been selected for an interview with Allen & Overy on the 31st of this month. This is my very first interview and I have no idea what to expect. The email that they have sent me states that the interview is with a managing partner and is based only on my knowledge of the firm and the position I'm applying for. In addition to this, I am going to go through my application in detail.

I was hoping someone could help me with the following -
1. What questions might I expect in the interview?
2. What is the interview process?
3. What should I pay particular attention to while preparing?
4. What is the next stage in the recruitment process? (I am unclear of this because I have been selected as an LLM student and there is a specific recruitment process. I was told that there is just one interview, but my Allen & Overy account says that I have been selected to the first stage.)
5. I feel that I should ask them a few questions about the partner’s experience and the firm as well. Any suggestions?

I would also appreciate any general advice on the interview.

Thanks to whoever can help.

Reply 1
First up, congratulations.

I'm not going to respond to each of your questions but rather answer generally. First though, could you confirm exactly what the letter says? To say that you're being interviewed by "a managing partner" doesn't really make sense.

I would expect your interview to cover the following areas:

- your education experiences to date (why LLM, areas of particular interest so far etc, what have you found difficult etc).

- your extra-curricular activities (what do you do, what skills have you developed, what levels of expertise/responsibility have you gained etc. Expect a degree of grilling on these as the interviewer seeks to find out if you really have done the activity to the degree you have said)

- "why law". The interviewers are likely to drill down to find out (a) why law is of interest to you generally and (b) what it is about commercial law that interests you.

- "why A&O". This is hugely important. Expect to be grilled about why you want to join A&O. Bland, non-specific answers will be not be good enough here. You need to have concise focussed answers prepared which will enable you to show how you can differentiate between MC and non-MC firms and then between A&O and, say, Freshfields.

- "Why you". You wn't necessarily get this question but you should prepare for something along the lines of "So, why should we give you a training contract?". Its nasty but if you're ready you can nail it.

- "commercial awareness". I'd anticipate some questions designed to find out whether you know what's going on in the big bad world outside Uni. That could be a broad "What business-related stories have been of interest to you" type question to a more specific question about a particular story which has been running in the press. Clearly the latter is far harder to prepare for. Look at their website for articles/client briefings they've prepared: they're a great indication of what they regard as the hot legal topics of the day.

Don't ask us about the recruitment process at A&O: ask them! Call grad recruitment and ask them to confirm the next steps etc. I would also ask them if they can tell you the name of the person(s) interviewing you - that will give you something else to research.

You will inevitably have an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview. This is a further opportunity for you to impress - don't ask Qs which might indicate that you're not necessarily interested in working for a corp law firm (eg do you do lots of pro bono work, do I get a chance to work overseas). Rather, think of Qs which might demonstrate your own ambition or that you're thinking long term (eg where does the firm see itself in 5 years time?).

General advice? You will be nervous. They understand that. There will come times in the interview where they will deliberately put you under pressure to see how you react. Anticipate that and relax (if possible!). Don't be afraid to take some time to think of your answer. Pausing for 15 seconds might seem like a lifetime to you but to an interviewer it gives the impression of someone who is calm and in control. Pause, think carefully and then give your answer. Likewise, at the end of the interview don't be afraid to return to a previous question and revisit it - "Earlier I said X, Y and Z: I'd like to add something to that answer...".

What else - know your CV/application form inside out. Nothing looks worse than a candidate who doesn't know what they've written: it casts doubt on their credibility. Following on from the "Why A&O" question, it is essential that you research them as much as possible. Put together a folder with press cuttings etc which show what they've been up to (internally and externally) over the last 12 months.
As for a "managing partner" they have a UK, European and Worldwide one... so you have a pick lol. The worldwide one is a friend of mine's dad, the Notts law soc president.

Good luck! I find it weird that the top dogs will be lowering themselves to interviewing for TCs, but at least they respect it!
Reply 3
Thanks to the both of you.

'Lewisy-Boy', thanks, but the partner interviewing me is the mangaing partner of Europe.

'Chalks', thanks for the advice. I know the managing partner's name et al. He is the managing partner of Europe. I'll look up on him and have already met him once at a presentation.

Thanks once again.
Reply 4
I wish you luck for your interview.
I found A&O really friendly at interview - just know your application form well, and read up on key economic issues - and try and bring out the commercial awareness in the case study exercise.
What did they ask?
Original post by Student_367282
What did they ask?

This thread is so old that OP could be a partner by now.