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Interview Alternatives - Not run of the mill..

Some legal employers use methods other than interviews to choose the best employees. A guide to psychometric testing, group interviews and other weird and wonderful techniques.

Psychometric testing

Some larger employers are increasingly using psychometric testing and aptitude tests in their recruitment process, not as a substitute for but rather to compliment interviews. Psychometric testing is particularly common in the recruitment process for trainee solicitors. In a 2007 survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters, 92% of respondents said they considered it to be a useful tool.

So what does psychometric testing involve? The tests fall into two categories:

  • Ability tests – to test skills such as critical thinking
  • Personality tests – for example, an assessment of a candidates ability to react well under pressure

Ability testing is particularly useful for entry level positions, such as trainee solicitors. Personality tests are useful for higher level positions where management responsibility may be involved.

More recent graduates may not be so concerned by a “test” but those candidates who for whom studying and exams are a more distant memory may feel panicked by the thought of passing or failing!

Legal recruiters are looking for a range of skills beyond academic ability. The nature of legal work makes other skills essential, such as the ability to work and cope well under pressure. It’s easy to see why psychometric testing has become more popular.


It is difficult to prepare for a test which effectively relates to your personality as you are unlikely to be able to significantly change aspects of that. However, if you are at least aware that you may sit a psychometric test, you can mentally prepare yourself and stay calm. If it isn’t mentioned and you think a test is a possibility, make a phone call and simply ask.

There are many different types of psychometric tests, some more in depth than others. Employers may engage an external consultant to mark and assess results or they may be dealt with by the in-house human resources department. A simple search on Google will produce many examples of questions and quite a few free online services to give you the opportunity to try a few tests out and get a good feel of what may be involved.

Group exercises

Graduate recruitment in particular may also include group exercises. This gives the potential employer the opportunity to assess personal skills of candidates. Whilst, again, you can’t change your personality, try to be as confident and calm as possible. Get involved in the exercise and make constructive contributions. Try to balance that fine line between over confident and arrogant as opposed to timid and invisible!

Informal interviews

You haven’t yet been offered the job, but your first interview (and possibly second) went well and you have been invited to meet some of the team over lunch. This is still an interview! Be relaxed and friendly but not too relaxed! Common sense will apply - don’t drink alcohol at lunch (or at most one glass), don’t complain about the food and don’t be rude to the restaurant staff!

The same obvious rules apply whatever the recruitment scenario – but it is surprising how many candidates can get over confident and forget that the job is not in the bag until you have been made an offer on terms you are happy with

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