Slaughter and May Interview Questions

Last Updated: 20 February 2020

Training Contract Application and Interview Process

The recruitment procedure at Slaughter and May has a reputation for being much more old-fashioned and simplistic than that of other major companies, which may have candidates attend a multiple different assessment stages, complete psychometric testing, and partake in a number of team-building or skill-testing activities. Many people commend Slaughter and May on their no-nonsense, interpersonal approach to recruitment.

The Application procedure for a Training Contract at Slaughter and May consists of only the following:

  • Online Application
  • Interview Day
    • Written Exercise
    • Individual interview with two Partners
    • Tour of offices
    • Brief HR interview

Online Application Form

Use a simple, intelligent and straightforward writing style on your application form. Whoever will be reading your application is likely to read several hundred (if not thousand others). For this reason, keep your writing style and thought process clear. Make sure you grab recruiters attention by focussing on your achievements, and beginning your cover letter with an engaging first few sentences.

Written Exercise

Your Interview day will begin with a 30 minute exercise, simply to determine whether you can write clearly and concisely under time pressure. You will be given a short article and you will have to provide a summary of it, either by hand or on a computer. This task is not intended to be difficult, but do make sure that you have proof-read your summary, and have presented all the key points in an organized, logical manner.

The Interview

Once you have completed your written exercise, you will be given a news article about a current issue, and given 10-15 minutes to read it while you wait for your interview to begin. This is not merely to keep you occupied; this article will be a main component in your interview. You will discuss the article with the Partners, and be questioned on your views regarding the issue. The Partners may challenge your opinions and ask difficult questions, so remember not to let this disarm you, as they are looking for candidates who can stand their ground. You cannot really prepare for this directly, as the topic of the article could be almost anything, however increasing your commercial awareness will help you in discussing the possible effects of the given issue on various industries and enterprises. Read the business sections of newspapers in the days or weeks leading up to your interview, and if possible, read the Financial Times and other major publications on the morning before your interview, as the article they provide you with is often from that day.

In general, the interview is fairly straightforward and are more relaxed than most candidates expect, but despite the relaxed atmosphere, you must remember to remain professional and confident at all times. Remember, you are being assessed on how you would potential come across to the firm's clients if you were hired.

Slaughter and May interviews are more like conversations. There is no set end time, and interviews can last anywhere from 40 to 90 minutes. The direction of the conversation is dictated as much by you as by the partners, and this cannot be planned or prepared for. The Partners are trying to get a sense of the way you think, and the way you interact with people. Do try to be genuine, as they will easily pick up on falsehoods and rehearsed answers, and are looking for people with personality. A little bit of small talk is also a good thing, as it is an important conversational and interpersonal skill which will be useful to you in dealing with clients.

After the article discussion, the interview will focus mainly on your CV and application, and you will be asked to speak about your experiences and skills, and explain your motivations for making certain choices in your life.

Tip: Work through your CV and think through all the pro/cons and issues associated with each experience or achievement so you know what to talk about if these come up in your interview.

Slaughter and May are looking for individuals with sharp intellect, common sense, independent thought, judgement, and a good sense of humour, and the main purpose of this interview is to determine whether you are that type of individual - they will not test you on obscure knowledge or brainteasers.

Interview Questions

You can reasonably expect to be asked the following types of questions at your interview:

  • What makes you want to work in law?
  • Why have you applied to Slaughter and May?
  • What do you think clients want from a law firm?
  • What has been your approach to applying for Training Contracts?
  • Why did you choose your university course?
  • I see you did not do very well in one particular programme/exam - why?
  • How did you research Slaughter and May before this interview?
  • Explain a difficult concept that you learned about during your degree.

There have been cases of the following debate topics coming up at the interview, the purpose being to demonstrate your analytical and argumentative skills.

  • Issues associated with donating organs after death.
  • The ethics of stem cell technology.
  • Would you have a moral issue working for a drug company that sold medicines for HIV at inflated prices?
  • Should governments apologise for events that happened in the past?
  • Compare Russian and German as languages.
  • What is the difference between law and justice?
  • Do you think bankers bonuses should be capped?
  • What are your views on the death penalty?
  • Would you have a moral issue working for a tobacco company?

Expect to have your ideas and beliefs challenged and be prepared to stand up for yourself. Make sure your argument is balanced; you do not want to appear as one-sided, narrow minded or argumentative.

Office Tour

Following your interview, a current trainee will show you around the office and answer any questions you may have, so that you can be certain that this is the right firm for you. Slaughter and May claims that this portion is completely unassessed, so don't be afraid to ask honest questions about life at the firm.

HR Interview

After your tour there will be a very brief meeting with a representative from Human Resources which will allow you to ask questions about practical matters, and probably does not figure in the hiring decision. You are required to bring your original A-level certificates (or equivalent) and (where relevant) degree certificates to the interview, plus your passport.

Post Interview

You may wish to send a short and simple email to each partner that you talked to, but only one each. if you do, thoroughly check your wording and spelling to make sure there are no errors. Your subject header should be simple too: e.g. "Thank you". Don't try to be witty or smart, just be gracious and thanks them for their time. This shows good people skills and sensible client management. It will also help to keep you on the partners' minds at decision time.

Referees

It is worth noting that Slaughter and May always call your referees and do not hold much regard for written references. Consequently, you should make sure you submit your strongest referees.

Offer

Partners meet weekly to discuss the candidates and decide the outcome of applications, so you may have to wait up to a week to receive an offer.

Rejection

If unsuccessful, you should receive notification within seven to ten days. If you do not hear anything with ten days, you should contact the firm by telephone.