Clifford Chance Interview Questions & Application Tips

Clifford Chance Interview Questions & Application Tips

Updated March 24, 2022

Written by the WikiJob Team

Headquartered in London, Clifford Chance is one of the world's leading commercial law firms with a wide-ranging international reach, with offices in around thirty countries.

The firm is part of the magic circle law firms, regarded as the pre-eminent commercial law practitioners in the UK.

The application process for a vacation placement or training contract with the firm is as rigorous as you might expect for a magic circle law firm; details for the structure of the application process, and the types of interview questions you are likely to face, follow below.

The Application Process

Candidates for both programmes are required to complete a variety of different assessment stages, consisting of the following:

  • Online application form
  • Online test
  • Assessment centre

The various stages of the application process are designed for you to showcase what you can offer Clifford Chance, but also for you to assess whether the firm is the right place for you to begin your legal career.

Stage One: Online Application Form

This is your chance to stand out from the crowd at an early stage and involves complete a standard application form template, which will ask you to give details of your educational background and previous work experience, as well as your motivations for wanting to work in corporate law.

Tips

  1. Be precise. One of the keys to getting through the application is keen attention to detail. This is a key skill for any successful corporate lawyer, so any errors or mistakes are sure to give a poor first impression and may even result in your application being rejected.

  2. Showcase your abilities. The online application is a chance to show all aspects of yourself. Identify your strengths and make sure to include examples from all the various experiences in your life.

  3. Show your passion. Clifford Chance wants people with a real passion for a career in commercial law. You need to do your very best to let your enthusiasm for working in corporate law shine through in your online application.

Stage Two: Online Test

The application form is accompanied by an online verbal reasoning test. Only those who pass will have their application form screened by the firm’s HR department, so it needs to be taken seriously and prepared for thoroughly.

WikiJob has eight such tests available for practice, should you need help.

The test takes a maximum of 20 minutes to complete and consists of a number of multiple-choice questions.

You will be given a series of different information points to read through and analyse and then asked to come up with the right answer from a selection of different options. See this article for more on preparation for verbal reasoning tests.

Tips

Practice makes perfect. Clifford Chance has a feature on its website which allows you to practise the online test as many times as you wish, before taking the real thing.

This is an opportunity not to be missed and is sure to put you in a better position to pass the test when you do take it.

If you need further practice, try any of the verbal reasoning tests provided by WikiJob or JobTestPrep.

Stage Three: Assessment Centre

Should you make it through the online test, your application will be put forward for screening. If successful, you will be invited to attend an assessment day at Clifford Chance’s offices.

The structure of the assessment day is the same regardless of whether you have applied for a training contract or a vacation scheme, and consists of the following activities:

  1. Competency-based interview
  2. Case study interview
  3. Critical reasoning test

Throughout the day you will be assessed by a combination of partners and associates, who will not have seen your application prior to conducting the interviews.

Competency-based interview

The aim of the competency-based interview is to assess whether you possess the skill set needed to be a solicitor, as well as to find out more about why you’re interested in a legal career in the City.

Competency interview questions tend to focus on general questions regarding your strengths and weaknesses, rather than specifically on the firm itself or your educational background. Here are some examples of the types of questions you can expect to face:

  • When did you depart from the "party line" to accomplish your goal?
  • Can you give an example of a recent challenge you had to overcome?
  • Give an example where you worked in a dysfunctional team. Why was it dysfunctional and how did you attempt to change things?
  • Tell me about a time when you didn’t succeed in doing something.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a conflict within your team.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to communicate something to someone less knowledgeable than yourself.

Tips

If you made it through the online application and the online test in one piece, it’s safe to say Clifford Chance was impressed with what you had to say. This interview is a chance for the firm to make sure that you are just as impressive in real life.

As far as possible, you should look to match your abilities and competencies with those deemed important by the firm itself. Before the day itself, make sure to review the Clifford Chance website to have a clear idea of what these are. This includes the videos on the graduate recruitment sections of the site.

It’s also important to re-acquaint yourself with the things you mentioned in your application. Have a range of examples ready of times when you demonstrated the skills and thinking processes that impressed the firm so much.

Following the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is a good starting point for structuring your answers. Make sure to check out our guide to competency-based interviews, and competency-based interview questions, for further advice on this topic. Always remember to ask questions at the end of the session, which will reinforce your interest in the firm and enthusiasm for the role.

Case Study Interview

The case study interview looks to loosely replicate the kind of client query or issue you might ordinarily face as a trainee lawyer at Clifford Chance. However, it’s important to point out that you won’t be expected to have any previous legal understanding or expertise. Instead, it’s purpose is really to assess your commercial awareness, problem-solving skills and ability to think on your feet.

You will be given a fictional business scenario and will then have 15 minutes to prepare and deliver a short presentation based on the issue and how you would go about solving it. Your interviewer will then asking you questions relating to your presentation.

While it’s impossible to predict exactly what the topic of your case study will be, it’s still possible to practise the skills that are likely to be tested. Your interviewer will looking to see how you structure and present your ideas in a time-pressured situation. How you deliver the presentation and respond to their questions will provide an idea of your communication skills and ability to excel in a client-facing role.

Here are a few examples of the type of case study you may be presented with:

  • One of our clients is experiencing manufacturing problems at one of their foreign plants; what would you advise them to do?
  • Evaluate the market potential of a new umbrella company.
  • What challenges would need to be overcome in financing a new smoothie business?
  • How would you turn around a failing paper company?

Tips

Remember, this is a timed exercise, so you want to make sure you allow yourself enough time both for preparation as well as for delivering the presentation itself. Too much time spent on the preparation stage can leave you struggling to mention all the important points of your proposal, while a rushed preparation can leave you with time left over and to potentially miss out on some of the key points.

A good way to prepare for the case study interview is to take part in a mock interview, which may be offered by your university careers service. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on current affairs for a hint of some of the topics or themes that might come up.

Critical Reasoning Test

The final stage of the assessment involves a computer-based critical reasoning test, which is similar to the one used by a number of different legal recruiters. In fact, the company that provides the test, Watson Glaser, is the same used by a number of major City law firms in the UK, including Linklaters and Hogan Lovells.

The test typically lasts around 30 minutes and consists of 40 questions, which are aimed at assessing your critical thinking skills. You’ll be given a series of different information points and arguments to interpret and asked to answer questions based on these.

Tips

The main aim of the test is to gather evidence of key analytical and problem-solving skills. Rather than diving right in, read all the information available carefully and think about your approach to the problem. Be wary also of jumping to conclusions or of making assumptions that aren’t backed up by the information presented.

Remember that on the Clifford Chance website you have the opportunity to practise this test as many times as you like. Doing so will give you an idea of what to expect and will help you to refine your timings.


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