Law firms are revamping their interview techniques by introducing strength based questioning. Slowly, law firms are shying away from the usual competency based questions such as, “Give me an example of a time you worked in a team.” They are attempting to seek what an individual’s’ strengths are, not what they are capable of doing.
Reed Smith has announced its move to a strengths-based assessment of its would-be trainees and vacation scheme students, becoming the first law firm to do so. Whilst fellow US law firm, Sherman & Sterling has also trialled strength-based selection. Under the new system, candidates will complete a ‘situational strengths test’ after they have submitted their application form. The test will require candidates to answer online a number of scenario-based questions, which reflect situations that they might encounter as a trainee. If successful, candidates would be invited back for interview. If not, they would receive a feedback report. Graduate recruitment manager Lucy Crittenden explained: “We want to see the real person. Application processes can become very rehearsed and this should allow us to the more natural side of a candidate.
Law firms are fairly new to this style of recruitment. Graduate recruiters, such as Aviva, Standard Chartered, Ernst & Young, Barclays, Nestlé, Royal Mail, BAE Systems and Unilever all now use “strengths-based interviews” in their graduate recruitment process. Strengths interests have a simple aim: to find out your interests.
The theory behind strengths interviewing is based on positive psychology: everyone has strengths they are born with but few people know what these are. By identifying your strengths and matching yourself to the role, you will enjoy it more and perform better that those who have to try hard to fill the role.
You are probably sitting there wondering how to prepare?
One of the beauties of strengths based interviews is that you can’t do so much preparation and are less likely to come up with the hackneyed answers candidates thing interviewers want. Think about what you love doing both inside and outside work and be prepared to be open: don’t try to be something you’re not. Be honest about what tasks you don’t enjoy doing and think about how your preferences might fit with the organisation’s culture and the job requirements.
If you come from a background that is traditionally underrepresented in the legal industry and want to practice your interview technique, apply for the TSL Mentorship Scheme for the opportunity to be assigned a personal mentor to help with interviews and all other aspects of the application process.