Government Legal Service Assessment Centre, Watson-Glaser, SJT Practice

Are you applying for a legal trainee position at the Government Legal Service (GLS)? Recruitment to the GLS is competitive and contains a combination of interviews, written exercises and tests. This guide will take you through each stage of the process, with tips and practice packs to help you create the best application.
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Legal trainees with the Government Legal Service (GLS) will advise and support Government Departments on policy and legal issues. The important nature of the work they carry out means that the GLS are looking for the most talented applicants. With high competition for the places available (approximately 3,000 applicants for 25 places), the recruitment process is designed to enable the GLS to pick the most suitable candidates. The application process for solicitor and barrister trainees is the same. This guide will take you through each stage of the recruitment process for legal trainees, providing tips and preparation to enable you to make the most of your application.

The recruitment process for the GLS is split into two stages:

The GLS competency framework sets out the key skills applicants will be expected to demonstrate throughout the recruitment process.

These competencies are:

  • Legal professional skills
  • Seeing the bigger picture
  • Managing a quality service for clients
  • Making effective decisions
  • Leading and communicating
  • Collaborating and partnering
  • Delivering at pace
  • Building capacity for all
  • Motivational fit

The Application Stage

The application form is your first opportunity to present yourself to the recruiters at the GLS. The application form will ask you questions about why you want to work with the Public Sector, your commitment to the civil service and your ideas for the future. Be sure to plan your answers before putting them in the form, and answer the questions on the form against the competencies above.

If you get as far as the assessment centre, the interviewers there will only have access to your name and employment history from your application form, so ensure that you make the information contained there count. This information would normally be contained on your CV, which is not included in this application. Before you start your application, take a look at our law firm application forms blog for guidance on how to approach your application.  

Situational Judgement Test

You will be asked to sit an online Situational Judgement Test (SJT) at the same time as submitting your application form. You must pass the SJT in order to progress to the next test. The SJT will assess your judgement in dealing with the types of situations you may encounter as a legal trainee in the GLS. In the test you will be presented with hypothetical situations, and some possible reactions to each. You are asked to specify which reaction is the most effective response, and which is the least effective response. They are looking for you to trust your instincts in these situations. As with anything, practicing the Situational Judgement Test will help you improve your score when you come to take the test. JobTestPrep’s online SJT preparation pack can help you prepare for this test.

SHL Verbal Reasoning Test

If you are successful at the application form and SJT stage, you will be invited to sit an online Verbal Reasoning Test (VRT). The VRT is designed to test your ability to analyse and interpret complex information. The test is timed, and will ask you to agree or disagree to statements based on a piece of text. The test you will sit will be from SHL. See how JobTestPrep’s SHL verbal reasoning practice pack will help you learn how to sit these tests, including how to deal with the pressure of a timed test and complex information here.

Critical Reasoning Test

If you pass the Verbal Reasoning Test, you will be asked to next take a Watson-Glaser Critical Reasoning Test. This test is different to any other test you will sit during your application process with GLS. The test assesses your ability to logically analyse assumptions, arguments, deductions, inferences and interpret information. In short, some of the key skills you need for a career in law. You will be given a short statement of facts, followed by a number of possible inferences, assumptions, conclusions or arguments based on those facts. You are asked to assess those statements.

Given the unique nature of the test, it is important to practice in advance so that you can pass the test with flying colours when you sit it for the GLS. JobTestPrep’s Watson-Glaser practice pack can help you improve your score.

Government Legal Service Assessment Centre

The GLS assessment centre is a half day session in London. You will be assessed against the key competencies through two exercises:

Written Exercise

You will be given 55 minutes to prepare a response to a legal scenario. You are not expected to have legal knowledge on this case, your response should be based solely on the information contained in the materials in front of you. This exercise will assess your analytical skills, constructive and innovative thinking, judgement and written communication. See the JobTestPrep written exercises practice pack to pick up valuable tips for this exercise here.


The interview will be in two parts, a technical interview and a competency based interview. The interview panel will consist of two senior GLS lawyers and an external HR professional, and lasts for around 70 minutes. Preparation for the interview is vital as it is the first time the recruitment team will have face to face interaction with you. See JobTestPrep’s interview practice pack for tips on how to handle the session.

In the technical interview you will be asked to present a five minute argument on a public law related topic, which you will receive in your assessment centre pack. You will then be asked about your presentation, as well as other questions designed to test you against key competencies. As well as preparing the presentation, don’t forget to prepare for the interview itself. JobTestPrep can help you practice your interview skills in authentic conditions with our Skype based interviews package.

The competency based interview will ask you about the information provided on your application form, as well as assessing you on your constructive and innovative thinking, influential communication, team working drive and determination. The best way to answer questions against these competencies is using the STAR method which will enable you to illustrate your answers with stories from your previous experience. See how JobTestPrep can help you with the STAR method.

In Summary

The recruitment process for the Government Legal Service is designed to test you in a variety of ways. Each test tells the service more about whether you are the right candidate to join them. Preparation is key in such a recruitment process. This article guides you through each stage, showing the packages available from JobTestPrep to help you prepare.

We hope that you have found this article useful, and good luck!

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