Top tips and myths busted ahead of assessment centre season

Andrianna, a final seat trainee solicitor in Shoosmiths’ Milton Keynes office shares her three top tips and myth busters for acing an assessment centre.

The assessment centre can feel like an exciting and a daunting experience all in one. But this mix of emotions will help you slay the day.  I attended the Shoosmiths assessment centre in the Birmingham office in Summer 2019 and secured a training contract to commence in September 2021. 2019 was the last in-person assessment centre before Covid hit and flipped everything virtual, so it’s great to see the assessment centres return to the in-person format in 2023.  The assessment centre was an incredible experience and I remember the most delicious afternoon biscuits well! To help with preparation for the day, I have put together my three top tips for you: 

  1. Eat breakfast!

    It is often easy to forget to eat on the morning of an assessment centre from all the nerves and excitement. However, no matter if it is a piece of fruit, a croissant, or a full English breakfast, food helps to fuel your body and will help you focus. More importantly it fills a grumbling tummy. Otherwise, you will soon realise that it is a long wait till lunch! 
  2. Do not be disheartened with the order of the tasks  

    Naturally, everyone cannot complete the same task at the same time, and candidates are typically split into groups to rotate between different exercises.  Regardless of the order you do things, my tip is to be adaptable and flexible on the day, because these are essential skills you will need to demonstrate as a trainee solicitor. I focused on each task and did not think about the next one until I was taking part in the task. This way you can perform to the best of your ability on the day. 
  3. Transferable skills can come from any experience

    On the day, you are assessed on the strengths that are required to be a successful trainee solicitor at Shoosmiths. It is easy to think that these strengths and skills must come from legal experience, but they don’t! Do not be afraid to draw on any experience which is not law-related. During my interview, I spoke about my work experience at a well-known high-street retailer and taking part in their yearly fashion show for a famous fashion magazine. It sparked the interest of the interviewers, and we had a great conversation about fashion. Using your experience (and your personal passions) is a great way to show off your personality and demonstrate how you can transfer the skills you have gained to the role of a trainee solicitor at Shoosmiths. 

Assessment Centres can also be surrounded by myths and you may hear them on the day.  To help bust those myths, here are some to inspire you to be positive and enjoy the day. 

  1. You have a better chance of getting a training contract if you are already a paralegal with the firm.  

    I was an external candidate when I attend my Shoosmiths assessment centre. 
  2. You are more likely to get a training contract if you have done a vacation scheme with the firm. 

    I have never done a vacation scheme! 
  3. You are unlikely to succeed if it is your first time at the assessment centre. 

    I did! It was my first time at a Shoosmiths assessment centre. 

With these tips and the myths busted, all that is left is for you to enjoy the day. GOOD LUCK!

If you have any questions about the recruitment process for the trainee solicitor programme  (the training contract!) please contact the emerging talent team at [email protected].




This information is for general information 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. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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