Simmons & Simmons revamps application process

Simmons & Simmons has changed its trainee recruitment system, placing less emphasis on candidates’ past achievements.

Previously, the firm required potential trainees to fill in application form with competency questions, complete a Watson-Glaser test and go through an assessment centre.

“We looked at all parts of the process, from the moment someone comes to apply right through to offering a job,” graduate recruitment and development manager Jenny Briston told Lawyer 2B. “We found that the old process was effective, but there were areas where we could make better use of new technology. We also reviewed the process at the point when we launched the firm’s new values, so we were able to build them into the process, putting things like diversity and inclusion right at the forefront.”

Simmons has moved to “a process that focuses on candidates’ potential to be a successful lawyer and is less focused on past achievement,” Briston said. “We test and assess the raw skills that are relevant to the job: that in itself makes it more a inclusive process.”

The final stage assessment centre remains broadly the same; however, the initial application form has been stripped back, with the firm now only assessing on academics and a career motivation question.

The form does still ask about work experience, interests and hobbies, but “we are capturing that mainly for extra discussion topics at interview: it does not form part of assessment,” Briston said. Assessing those points would give an advantage those people who have been able to work in a legal setting or be captain of the football team, for example.

The Watson Glaser test, favoured by many law firms, has been dropped in favour of “more relevant” verbal and logical reasoning tests. Simmons & Simmons has also followed the lead of a number of firms in bringing in a video interview stage.

A bespoke online judgment test has also been introduced, asking candidates to navigate their way through a series of real-life scenarios of what it is like to be a trainee. “It’s not something candidates can prepare for, or fake,” Briston said, adding that the test would help the firm find the candidates who are best suited to the characteristics the firm is are looking for.