Future trainee Harriet Kelsall reflects on her assessment centre and shares her top tips for future applicants on making it a successful (and enjoyable!) experience.
Assessment centres can be extremely daunting as they are the key to unlocking vacation schemes and ultimately training contracts. Here are some tips from my experience to help you settle the nerves!
It may sound cliché but preparation truly is the key to success. This day is your best chance to show how invested you are in TLT and how you are perfect for the job; being prepared enables you to do this!
A great place to start is looking back at all the work you have done for this application. Go back through your firm notes, the notes you made about your skill set and your entire application form. Although you potentially submitted it a few months ago, it is all very relevant and helpful.
On top of this I would recommend ensuring your commercial awareness is up to date. LinkedIn is a great tool for learning about current activity in different sectors, recent work the firm has been involved in and people who you may meet on the day. I found that social media highlighted common interests between myself and TLT employees, allowing conversations to naturally arise on the day.
Where possible, research the structure of the day. I had been informed that there would be three components for my assessment centre, so I split my time between these.
I used my university career service to practice this specific type of interview. If this is not available to you, practice putting yourself out of your comfort zone by asking a friend to set one up. Filming and watching yourself back can be very tough but it really helped me improve my technique and conciseness. Remember the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to answer questions, this will ensure that you use examples and give enough detail but also give you the confidence to know when you have finished your answer.
Although these are difficult to prepare for, it is useful to talk to people who have previously done them and watch YouTube videos on different types of activities. This gave me an idea of both common and more unusual tasks that may be set, meaning I did not panic on the day. Do not be afraid to put across your opinions, but remember to be polite and inclusive to your peers.
This is not a test that you can strictly prepare for. As long as you are true to your own values and these match TLT’s, you will be fine! Try not to overthink it and draw on your previous work experience to help you come to your decisions.
Reminding myself on the day that I was prepared for all aspects, and that TLT liked me enough to want to spend a morning with me, helped settle my nerves.
It may be obvious, but dress as you would for an interview or day of work as a solicitor - even if you are on Zoom. This will help you feel like you are the (wo)man for the job!
Not everyone is into brightly coloured clothes but I wore an orange jacket and shoes as I wanted to reflect my bright personality. This instantly gave me a talking point with the other applicants and interviewers. Breaking the ice in this way made me feel slightly more relaxed from the outset.
Interviewers and assessors
They may seem scary at first but they are all genuine and caring people, which is what makes TLT special. Use appropriate opportunities to ask questions you genuinely want to know the answer to and conversation will flow!
Although the other candidates are technically your competitors, they are also potentially your future colleagues and lifelong friends. As TLT highly values personality and character, I found that we all had lots in common which made the day genuinely enjoyable!
You will thrive if you are genuine and friendly to each other. My feedback highlighted that our team-based approach really shone through and contributed to us all being offered vacation schemes, with three of us successfully securing training contracts at TLT!
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses but you have made it to this stage for a reason. Focus on your strengths and utilise the day to highlight why you will be an asset to TLT.
Finally, good luck and trust in yourself!
Harriet is a future trainee solicitor for TLT, based in the Manchester office from September 2022.