Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Interview question – How many training contracts have you applied for?

This question is often asked of potential trainee solicitors to see how successful they have been in finding a training contract. It is a very difficult question to answer truthfully, because you can come across so badly with which ever answer you give. Looking at it from the interviewer’s perspective, I think at time the question is asked more to see how you deal with the question rather than what you actual answer is. For example, if you were to say I have applied for over 100 training contracts, this would mean from the interviewer’s perspective you have a scattergun approach and don’t really care which firm you get the training contract with, nor what field of law or what quality of practice you are aiming at. If you were to say, I have applied for five firms that I have carefully chosen from a very long list and you were one of them, the firm will probably not believe you and also think you are a bit lazy perhaps for not considering more applications to more firms.

So what is the best way to answer it? To be honest, I am not completely sure but I think the best option would be to have similar firms in the area in your mind and to say that you have applied to John Smith & Co, Fred Jones and John Davies & Co as well as a couple of others and you have carefully selected these because of geographical location, types of law and also their reputation in the legal profession. You would then be making sure that the firm could not consider your approach to be scattergun, and also that you were not being lazy with your applications in that you have been carefully considering your options rather than just not bothering applying to very many firms.

It is not technically telling an untruth if you just give a selection of the firms that you have applied to. Obviously it would be if you said you had only applied to those firms but if you were deliberately vague with your answer I cannot see there being a difficulty in terms of needing to be completely honest when applying for jobs and being at job interviews.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment ( You can contact him for careers advice at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In many cases, the reason why law students tend to go for numerous legal training contracts is the fact that even from the beginning, being in the law industry really is like swimming with the sharks, it’s a cut-throat industry and you have be just as quick, cunning and sometimes vicious just to nick a bite out of a huge law firm’s corporate contract pie.