The major professional services firms and top U.K. law firms have a very different approach to recruiting and hiring than U.S. law firms. Here are a few of the things they do:
Full-time recruitment staff are assigned to recruit at schools year-round. They get to know students through small-group events and one-on-one meetings before the application process begins. Most companies target undergraduate campuses, but a few run educational programs at high schools and middle schools as well.
SKIP THE CHITCHAT
A standard job interview at a professional services firm lasts a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes. Recruiters are trained to ask questions that elicit detailed information about the way that candidates have achieved goals and overcome obstacles in the past.
Both analytical aptitude tests and psychological tests are coming into use in major British law firms. Aptitude tests measure applicants' analytical skills, while psychological tests characterize attitude and motivation. Applicants' results can be compared to those of top performers.
ISSUE CASE STUDIES
Companies have various methods for seeing how applicants will perform on the job. Some use case studies where they explain a client problem and ask applicants to brainstorm a solution. British law firms sometimes divide applicants into disputing teams and ask them to negotiate a settlement. These firms may also explain a client need and ask them to do an extemporaneous pitch selling the firm's services.
U.S. firms are starting to hire more first-year students as summer associates because they can publicize the firm among their classmates during the second-year recruiting push. In the U.K., where lawyers are not expected to bill as much as their U.S. counterparts in the first two years, trainees lead recruiting and design marketing campaigns for their alma maters.
Banks and professional services firms provide extensive information about the daily responsibilities and career trajectory associated with a job. A few U.S. firms are now following suit, starting to set more accurate expectations by being more open about the hours required and chances that an associate will stay for their career.