Understanding and preparing for a strengths-based assessment centre

Laura has been working in early careers since 2022, she has seen different ways law firms assess candidates and has recently been involved in running the new strengths-based assessment centre at Shoosmiths. Here she shares her guidance on what strengths-based assessing means for candidates and the best way you can prepare for this new way of assessing.

At Shoosmiths, we look for innovative ways to attract and retain diverse talent. In order to keep our candidate journey modern and engaging, we recently implemented strengths-based assessing into our assessment centres. This article will not only explain what we mean by strengths-based but it will also provide you with insights on how to prepare for this new way of being assessed for a training contract.

What does strengths-based assessing mean?

For years employers have relied upon traditional competency-based interviews and tasks in their assessment process, where your experience is usually the key to success. However, at Shoosmiths we recognise that not everybody will have the same amount or type of experiences to draw upon at an assessment centre or in an interview. Strengths-based assessing helps to level the playing field for candidates, no matter what their previous experience is. This is great for a business like Shoosmiths who is focused on driving actionable social mobility initiatives to attract, recruit and retain a diverse range of candidates.

Our new way of assessing focusses on your unique strengths, talents and attributes. We want to see what you naturally excel at and how you will apply your strengths to thrive in the role of a Trainee Solicitor (and beyond).

What will the assessment centre involve?

Our assessment centre consists of five components: a written exercise, a small group task, a large group task, an oral presentation, and an interview. Every single aspect of our assessment centre is strengths based.

Throughout the assessment centre you will be assessed on the following strengths:

  • Critical Thinker
  • Adaptability
  • Growth mindset
  • Personal responsibility
  • Detail
  • Effective communicator
  • Credibility
  • Open Connector
  • Motivation 

Preparation for any type of assessment centre is important, but try out these top tips when preparing for your strengths-based assessment centre.

Find your strengths

Unearthing your strengths will take self-reflection and self-development. Look back on your experiences, accomplishments, and successes. Identify how and why you succeeded, note down each of the strengths you have and think about how these strengths will benefit you as a Trainee Solicitor.

You may want to try out a strengths identification tool to get started, this questionnaire provided by Red Bull is a great place to start. Its free to use and takes around 35 minutes to complete. https://www.redbull.com/int-en/wingfinder

Find your joy 

Think carefully about the tasks you actually enjoy each day. When you’re completing a task that aligns with your strengths, you are likely to experience positive effects.

When you are searching for things that make you happy (not just work-related) think about how you’re motivated and what is important to you. What energizes you, and what do you look forward to doing, building more of this into your day can give you a boost, and enables you to develop on your natural strengths.

Get to know us 

Getting to know a law firm takes a lot more than just reading our website. The application process for a training contract can be months long, make sure to keep up to date with what is happening at the firm whilst you are awaiting the next stage of the process. This will not only deepen your understanding of our business, but it will also give you a lot to talk about at your assessment centre. You can keep up to date with all things

Shoosmiths via our socials and insights area on our website: 

Understand our values  

At Shoosmiths our values are key to our success. When attending an assessment centre it is important that you understand the values behind the firm and what they mean. Be authentic and personable when talking about our values and if they resonate with you, tell us why! You can read more about the firm’s culture and values here

Implement a Growth Mindset 

Having a growth mindset is pivotal to being able to develop on your skills. Start by reflecting on your experiences and view what you may perceive as failures or challenges as opportunities for growth. Identifying your own obstacles before an assessment centre will give you the opportunity to implement change. For example, you may have noticed you struggle with managing your own time, by noticing this before an assessment centre, you can take on more time pressure-based tasks to help you improve. 

Preparation for any assessment centre is vital, especially when introduced to a new way of assessing you may not be used to. Hopefully this blog gives you insight into what strengths-based assessing can entail and the best ways to prepare for it. Check out our other blog post “How to nail an assessment centre” to learn ways on how to succeed on the day itself!

If you are interested in learning a little bit more about us, then you can apply to attend a Virtual Insight Evening here.

If you have any questions specifically about training contracts, you might find your answer on our FAQ page. You can get in touch with us about career-related queries 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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