Herbert Smith Freehills Assessment Day Exercises and Interview Preparation

The application process for Herbert Smith Freehills contains many stages, designed to test you. Here we are looking at all the tests at the Assessment Centre. This article will take you through each stage, and point out the resources available to help you achieve this goal.
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The Herbert Smith Freehills assessment day is a whole day exercise at the firm’s London offices. The assessment day allows the graduate recruitment team to assess your skills and abilities face to face.

The activities at the assessment day are:

Group Exercise

The purpose of the group exercise is to allow the recruitment team to observe how you interact in a group setting which may mimic a real life situation. For this exercise, you are given a brief and a role to play within your group. Time is given to revise the role you are playing, make notes, and ask any questions of clarification, before the discussion begins.

During this exercise, you are assessed on your behaviour and contributions, and how you work within the team, including quieter participants. You must show evidence of the desired skills, particularly your commercial skills. The group exercise is not a competition with the other members of your team, you do not need to say the most comments; they are more interested in the quality of your contributions. Getting the balance right in a group setting can be difficult, see how JobTestPrep’s group exercises practice can give you tips to take with you.

Case Study Presentation

In the case study exercise, you are given 45 minutes to analyse a case study, answer questions on what you have read, and prepare a ten minute presentation to deliver to two partners at the start of your interview. Your interviewers will ask you questions about what you have read, but not necessarily based on your presentation or the questions you have already answered. Focus on the key points in the case study, and be prepared to answer questions on all the documents you were given to read. Through the case study exercise, Herbert Smith Freehills are looking to test you on your ability to absorb and present information, and on your commercial skills. The topic of the case study will be business related. An example of a past topic was of a UK based firm who were struggling at home, but were exploring options for expanding into Europe.

The case study exercise contains several key elements. First there is the topic of the case study itself, which cannot be predicted ahead of time. The firm recommend that you build up your commercial knowledge and understanding ahead of the assessment day to address this section. The next element of the case study is how to deal with the case study itself. See how JobTestPrep can help you prepare for your case study exercise. And finally, there is the presentation on the case study. See JobTestPrep’s presentation blog for tips on giving a presentation here.


The Herbert Smith Freehills interview is the last part of the assessment day. You are interviewed by two partners, the interview will be approximately an hour long, and cover three main sections. The first ten minutes of the interview involve answering questions about the case study. The partners focus on the commercial aspects of the case study. The next section of the interview is competency based. In this section, the interviewers are interested in how you solve problems, and the way you structure your answers. See JobTestPrep’s competency based interviews pack to help you with this section. The final 30 minutes of the interview will be spent discussing your CV and motivations for a career in law. This section is about the partners trying to find out more about you and the activities you enjoy.

Herbert Smith Freehills advice to candidates:

  • Think in advance of the type of questions you may be asked.
  • Research the firm, why you want to join. Any major deals/ matters they have been involved in.
  • Why a career in law? Why have you made this decision?
  • Think of questions in advance to ask of the interviewers. These should show that you have researched the firm and have a genuine interest in the work the firm does.
  • Have a mock interview
  • Prepare examples to use to answer questions

Some questions and topics asked in previous interviews include:

  • Why not a barrister?
  • Interest in law and business.
  • Credit crunch.
  • What would you do if you were an advisor to a national leader for the day.
  • Tell me about a commercial issue that has interested you.
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Interview preparation is key, and as Herbert Smith Freehills even advise you, a mock interview can really improve your interview technique. Luckily JobTestPrep are here to help, with a Skype based interview package that gives you real time interview practice tailored to your needs, and even includes feedback.

In Summary

The UK firm Herbert Smith merged with Australian firm Freehills in 2012 creating Herbert Smith Freehills. The application process in place is one that befits the position of Herbert Smith Freehills as one of the City’s top law firms, and it will challenge you throughout. Competition is high as you would expect for a firm of its’ position. Preparation and practice is what will get you through each stage of this process. We have guided you through each stage and listed the resources available to help you get this preparation. We hope you have found this useful and look forward to helping you achieve your best possible performance throughout your application. Good luck!

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