The graduate recruitment process at Reed Smith

At Reed Smith we use a strengths based assessment approach which is designed to understand both what energises and motivates candidates, as well as what candidates can do well. It is important for us that our trainees enjoy their careers, and this approach helps us to find out what you love to do and what you’re good at doing. It also gives you the opportunity to make sure the firm is right for you whilst ensuring that you are a good fit for us and the role as a trainee.

Situational strengths test

Following completion of the online application form, you will be asked to complete a situation strengths test (SST). This is an untimed online test in which you will be given scenarios you might encounter in your role as a trainee and then asked to prioritise your responses to them. The SST will give you a sense of the tasks involved in being a trainee. It will also indicate to us whether you have the strengths necessary to be successful at our firm. Candidates, whether successful or not, will receive a feedback report on completing the SST.

Career Focus Questions

Upon meeting the benchmark for the SST, you will then be asked to answer three questions using a word count of up to 300 words per question. These questions assess your commercial awareness, your commitment to being a lawyer and your understanding of Reed Smith as a firm. Due to the volume of applications, we are unable to provide feedback at this stage, however we suggest you use a variety of sources to ensure you have researched the firm before answering these questions.

Due to the current Covid-19 crisis, we will be adapting the final stages of the recruitment process to ensure we keep you and our current employees safe along with ensuring we meet the needs of the business. This may mean an additional on-line test followed by a telephone interview and then the case study interview via zoom. We will decide nearer the time what is deemed appropriate and we will keep you updated accordingly.

Case study and strengths-based interview

After completion and meeting the benchmark of the career focus questions, you will be invited to undertake a case study exercise and strengths-based interview.

The case study exercise will help us to understand your ability to comprehend information. This will involve reading through a set of materials within a set time frame, following which you will be asked questions on the materials.

There isn’t anything you need to do to prepare for the case study, but some things to bear in mind are:

  • Read and follow the instructions carefully
  • Keep an eye on the time
  • Be concise in your answers

The strength-based interview will include questions designed to identify your strengths in more depth and explore your motivation for the role. The interview is different to a competency-based one, and you should be prepared for the following:

  • More questions than other types of interview, delivered quickly
  • Less probing questions
  • A wide variety of questions
  • The chance to express how you feel in relation to a task or activity
  • Requests for short examples

As you prepare for the interview, to ensure that you show us the best of you on the day, think about:

  • What your family and friends know you for – how would they describe you to a stranger?
  • What you truly enjoy doing and what you are like at your best
  • The achievements you are proud of and how you got there
  • Activities (inside and outside of work) that you do not particularly enjoy and why


If you have any questions about the process, please email the graduate recruitment team.

Applications for all our opportunities open on 8 October 2020.