Law Career Guide

Assessment Days: What to Expect and How to Prepare for Them

Every firm runs assessment days a little differently, but at A&O Shearman, you can expect to take part in two virtual interviews, a written exercise and a Q&A, with two breaks in between.

The assessment day starts with a Partner case study interview; you’ll be given a case study along with some questions 40 minutes before your Partner interviewer joins. In this time, you will read the case study and prepare responses to the questions given. These could be emails, financial statements etc. that form the basis of a fictional case. 

The first part of your interview will be focussed on your answers to the questions; you’ll have 15 minutes to share your thoughts and ideas. The remaining time will be spent discussing the case study with your Partner interviewer. 

The second part of the assessment day will be a scenario-based interview. Here, your interviewer will share five different, hypothetical scenarios, and you’ll have the opportunity to discuss how you would respond or react to each one. 

The final part of the assessment day is a virtual Q&A session, where you’ll have the opportunity to speak with trainees at the firm. 

Whether you’re attending an assessment day at A&O Shearman or another firm, we’ve put together some tips and advice from our trainees and recruiters:

“If you haven’t got experience in a certain skill, the scenario-based questions are your chance to show us how you would demonstrate that certain skill if given the opportunity. Take advantage of this where you have gaps in your experience.”
Charlie King, Early Careers Recruitment Manager

“Don’t second guess yourself, or tell us what you think we want to hear. Show us who you are as an individual. Be yourself and be honest in your passions and experience.”
Matt York, Early Careers Recruitment Specialist

“Read and listen to the questions carefully, making sure you respond to what is being asked. If you’re not sure, ask for clarification or for the question to be rephrased.”
Charlie King, Early Careers Recruitment Manager

“It’s a hard process but being enthusiastic and positive throughout the assessment process speaks volumes.”
Barbara Menhart, Early Careers Senior Manager

“Whether they’re about the firm or specific to the person interviewing you, prepare engaging and well-thought-out questions for the end of the interview.”
Matt York, Early Careers Recruitment Specialist

“Be yourself and don’t forget to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to take a moment to reset if you are nervous and try to remember that if you have made it this far, you are wanted by the firm so don’t let imposter syndrome dim how you present yourself!
Saranya Barthe, Trainee

“A&O Shearman has some of the world’s top finance law teams – it isn’t unusual for financial and commercial questions to come up in your interview. You won’t be asked to calculate any wild finance formulas but being familiar with percentages, interest, and being comfortable working around a balance sheet can be really helpful for your case study!”
Alex Denny, Trainee

“The case study part of the Assessment Centre is all about your ability to assimilate, understand, and present information. Focus less on trying to read through everything in detail, but rather finding the information that falls within the scope of your brief. Presenting your findings in a clear and structured manner is important, so use signposting language for the benefit of your interviewer to demonstrate you have a grasp of your instructions and the materials. This isn’t a memory test, so refer to the materials if you need to!”
Hafsah Nawaz, Trainee