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How to succeed at a virtual assessment centre

Following her attendance at the firm’s first virtual assessment centre in 2020,  Hollie Wright has put together her top tips for success.

Preparation

  • I built upon the preparation that I did for the written application and the video interview by revisiting my written application and the notes I had made.
  • I listed my achievements and experiences that make me stand out and that I think would make me a good trainee solicitor. This included part-time jobs, academic achievements, voluntary positions and hobbies. For competency-based questions such as ‘tell me about a time when you…’ or ‘give me an example of when…’ I knew I could refer to my list of achievements!
  • I logged into the assessment centre platform as soon as I got the link emailed, in case I was required to download any software or update my laptop. This ensured everything went smoothly on the day.
  • Being aware of what is going on in the wider world and knowing how it may affect law firms and their clients is very important. I had already subscribed to several commercial awareness updates through twitter and email. I kept up to date with Shoosmiths news through their website and social media.

Expectations vs reality

  • Tech issues

My broadband package was not designed to support homeworking, so I was expecting my internet to drop, causing awkward silences and unflattering freezeframes. Thankfully the day went by without any glitches.

Graduate recruitment manager, Samantha Hope, put our minds at ease and pointed out that we are not being assessed on our internet connection, however, your reaction and how you handle the situation may be something that assessors pick up on.

  • Loss of personal interaction

Interaction with others is naturally much harder over a computer as opposed to in person, but measures were put in place to allow the candidates to get to know one another. The day began with an informal call between candidates which really helped ease us into things and at lunch time there was time for another informal networking sessions with some other candidates and current trainees.

  • Group exercise

I was most nervous for the group exercise as it is totally unpredictable and therefore hard to prepare for. We were put into groups of four and were given a task. The other candidates were all so friendly and easy to work with which made the exercise fun and helped ease the pressure I anticipated.

Top tips for those with virtual Assessment centres coming up

  1. Be prepared but don’t over rehearse your answers, they should be genuine and not too scripted.

  2. Test your technology out before the day – check your video, sound and battery is all good to go. This means on the day you can focus on the day itself and start the day on the right foot.

  3. Keep calm and remain focused. If one exercise doesn’t go as well as you hoped, don’t let it set you back.

  4. Re-visit your original training contract application, after all that’s what got you to this stage. Think about what was it that made you stand out and remember to draw upon it as assessors won’t have seen your written application.

  5. It is harder to pick up on social cues during virtual interviews. You may have a situation where two people speak at once, be polite and don’t let it throw you off. Good virtual etiquette will be prevalent in the business world going forward.

  6. Make eye contact with the camera, although it may feel unnatural to you, it will feel much more engaging to your assessors.

  7. Sell yourself and let your personality shine through – a training contract is a big commitment for both you and the firm so make sure you show them what you can bring to the table.

For further advice for virtual assessment centres take a look at April’s blog.

You can also watch this #ShoosmithsLIVE video chat where Gabrielle (future trainee solicitor) shares her recent experience of attending a virtual assessment centre and describes her journey to receiving a training contract offer.

If you have any questions you can email us at [email protected] or have a look at some frequently asked questions here.

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

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