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 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.

Strengths-based interview

For both our summer vacation scheme and training contract processes, you will be invited to undertake a face-to-face strengths-based interview. This 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
  • 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

Additional exercises for the training contract assessment

For the summer vacation scheme process, you will only be invited to undertake the strengths-based interview (you will be assessed for a training contract during the scheme if you are successful in securing a place).

If you are being assessed as part of the training contract process, then you will also be asked to undertake the following:

Case study

To help us to understand your ability to comprehend information, you will be asked to undertake a case study exercise. 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:

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

Group scenario

This exercise is designed to assess your behaviour in meetings and how effective you might be when working in a team. The exercise requires you to consider a number of issues and to come up with recommendations.


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

Applications for all our opportunities open on 1 November 2018.