Preparing for the Allen and Overy Situational Judgement Test | Best Prep Tips
If you are qualified to work in the legal sector, applying for a job at Allen and Overy has possibly crossed your mind on more than one occasion.
A global law firm dealing with big-ticket financial and business cases, their reach is global. For a job applicant, this means the competition for jobs with Allen and Overy is huge globally, just like for the Clifford Chance Training Contract. To get through the recruitment process, a lot of preparation is required.
Applicants must take a pre-employment test before being invited for an interview. This is a situational judgement test. If you have not done one of these before, or are worried about passing, don’t worry. This guide will take you through exactly what an SJT is and how you can prepare.
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What is the Allen and Overy recruitment process?
Allen and Overy became a leading law firm by hiring the best legal brains available. And that is something they still continue to do.
For the company, this means continued success. For you, the job applicant, this means further hoops you have to jump through before getting that coveted job.
On their website, they state they are looking for suitably qualified legal people who want to make an impact and change the future of law, so your task is to convince them you are one of those.
During the recruitment process, you can expect to go through some of the regular steps followed by other companies:
- Application: You submit your application online.
- SJT: This is followed by an online Situational Judgement Test (SJT).
- HR interview: This assesses your legal skills and your reasons for wanting to join the company, as well as your likely behaviour if you come across certain scenarios while working with the company.
- Case study interview: Here, you will be presented with information about a business case, given some time to evaluate it, and then have to make a presentation on it and discuss it with the interviewer. As Allen and Overy deal primarily with legal issues that concern businesses, they will be anxious here to see if you are interested in business and are commercially aware. They will also want to see if you can digest information and dig deep to find answers as well as present your findings.
- The final interview: This is with HR and a partner. Interviews are a means for the company to get to know you but are also an opportunity for you to discover more about the company. Show your interest by having some questions of your own to ask.
What is a situational judgement test?
An SJT or situational judgement test does exactly as it says in the title.
You are presented with a work-related situation. It may be a conflict situation, or a situation where you have to decide on how to handle a work-based scenario. Think of dealing with a dissatisfied client, for example, or trying to dissuade a client from taking a course of action that, in your opinion, is unethical.
You are presented with a number of different courses of action that you could follow in the situation. You have to use your judgement to decide on what course of action to follow. Or, in some cases, the courses of action you are most likely and least likely to follow.
On reviewing your answers, the assessor will be able to decide if you have a good sense of judgement that will make you an efficient employee at a big legal firm.
SJTs are known to be demanding, especially if you are new to this form of pre-employment testing. It is essential to get in a lot of practice before attempting the real SJT.
Difficulties of a situational judgement test
As the above information shows, there are many steps in the recruitment process. However, to get a toe-hold in the process, you first have to make a good impression in the SJT.
And that presents its own difficulties:
- It is conducted via video link, which can make you feel you are talking to yourself
- Your first meeting with the hiring people will be virtual
- You need to make a good first impression
- The person reviewing the recording will be regarding you as a potential company employee and assessing if you are a good fit for the company
And remember, the SJT is assessing your ability to make judgments, something which you will be required to do every day in your work with a leading law firm.
How do I prepare for the Allen and Overy SJT?
Preparing for the SJT is essential, as acing the SJT is the very foundation of getting a job at Allen and Overy.
Your best approach is to use the services of a job test preparation company. For this, we recommend the services of Job Test Prep, a company with many years of experience preparing applicants for pre-employment tests.
Using their services, you will get a test prep pack containing a number of practice materials specifically for Allen and Overy. You can also check out their specialised situational judgement test materials, with sample SJT tests modelled on ones used in real pre-employment assessments. They
provide a means of checking your scores after you complete each test, as well as helpful advice and videos.
As most positions at Allen and Overy will involve dealing with members of the public and colleagues, the following SJTs may all be relevant to the role you are applying for:
- The Administrative SJT
- The Customer Service SJT
- The Supervisory SJT
Working on the sample tests will teach you how to tweak your answers to produce the ideal workplace profile and do the tests within the time allowed.
Do your research on Allen and Overy
Before taking an SJT, you will need to do some research on the company.
Most companies have their own values that they like their employees to display. A lack of understanding of those values will be obvious in an SJT.
On Allen and Overy’s website, they outline the qualities they look for in their employees:
- Critical thinking – They like their employees to have strong numeracy and intellectual skills
- Adaptability and intellectual curiosity
- Relentless curiosity
- Lack of fear in going beyond what is currently done
- Awareness of technology
- Drive and motivation
- Have a focus on what they would do rather than on what they did in past work placements
- An interest in human rights – On their website they proclaim their allegiance to anti-slavery and anti-human trafficking movements
- Diversity – Their employees are drawn from a range of cultures and backgrounds
In a nutshell, they are looking for people who are not afraid of finding new ways of doing things. People who think beyond the dated and obvious methods of approaching a problem.
When doing any of the SJTs they present you with, you need to keep those values to the forefront of your mind.
Ask yourself constantly if your answer sits well with those values. If it does, you are showing yourself as a good fit for the company and, therefore, worthy of progressing to the interview stages.
Do different SJTs test different things?
Different jobs ask employees to make different judgement calls. Therefore, companies use SJTs that focus on the scenarios that apply to their particular companies.
However, as is the case for employees at Allen and Overy, an employee may be called on to carry out many different roles.
A lawyer will already have received legal training at university and so are ready for courtroom work. But in the office, they may have to work with admin and daily workloads, overseeing the work of juniors, and as in customer service when dealing with members of the public.
All of those roles call for different types of work practises making it necessary to prepare for SJTs in the different areas.
The Customer Service SJT
Working at Allen and Overy, you need to have the skills to deal with customers from a wide range of backgrounds.
Test your customer service skills with the following question.
Sample SJT Question
A customer calls the customer service line. He says that since he had to wait so long, he is now in a hurry and doesn’t have much time to speak. Which of the following is the most important response from the representative?
Apologising for the long wait.
Suggesting a better time for the customer to call when the line is less busy, so that he can talk without pressure of time.
Proceeding at the usual pace in order to thoroughly solve the customer’s problem.
Adjusting his conduct to the customer’s need by showing desire to complete the task quickly and effectively.
Do you think Allen and Overy would be happy with your answer? Check against the list of qualities they desire in employees. Now continue in the same way with a free sample SJT here. Challenge yourself to complete the test within the time allowed.
The Supervisory SJT
Supervising other employees can be a challenging role in itself. Once again, it demands certain skills from the supervisor.
Imagine yourself working at Allen and Overy, review their employee qualities again and attempt the following question.
Nellie is your most competent employee. She has the lowest errors rate, she always precedes her deadlines and she is very knowledgeable. She is well aware of her value to the unit and is not ashamed to use it in arguments with other employees, even when it’s irrelevant. Other employees say that she thinks she “knows it all” and avoid any interaction with her, professionally or not. What should you do?
Move Nellie to a separate office to reduce interaction with other people.
Tell Nellie that you appreciate her professional contribution, but you need her to be more cooperative with the team.
Don’t get involved. As long as Nellie doesn’t mind being left out, her social status is none of your business.
Encourage the team not to take her comments personally.
Talk to Nellie and ask her why she behaves this way. Tell her that if she doesn’t make an effort to get along with the team, you’ll have to transfer her to a more individual position.
Now continue your practice with the remaining questions on a supervisory SJT. here
The Administrative SJT
Most jobs will leave you in a position of having to work as an administrator from time to time. Working at Allen and Overy is no different. In fact, most days will require you to administer your own workload to an acceptable standard.
An administrative SJT will assess if you have the abilities to:
- Plan and organise the workload
- Know when to get a job done and when to delegate
- Handle the needs of colleagues and clients
- Get your own work done at the same time
It will also measure the extent to which you have the following qualities:
- Drive and motivation
- The ambition to do the best job you can
Try the following SJT question to test your administrative abilities. As with the Supervisory SJT, it assesses if your answer shows you as a good fit for the workplace. Then when time allows, continue with the full SJT that follows.
Generally, while dealing with solving unfamiliar tasks at work, you should:
Make sure your supervisor is updated on every step of your work process.
Use the experience of your co-workers while encountering difficulties.
Apply methodologies that helped you solve former problems.
Try to identify potential issues with the task and find efficient ways to do it
Final SJT study tips
Use sample SJTs as the centrepiece of your preparation. This will ensure:
- You are using material similar to that used in the real tests
- You are becoming familiar with the test material and with working within the test time frame
- You can monitor your progress from test to test
- You are constantly reminding yourself of what the company is looking for
- You are building the confidence you need to face the test with determination and come closer to getting that job
If working for Allen and Overy is your dream job, you will find all the resources you need to prepare for the Situational Judgement Test here.
Written by Elizabeth O Mahony
With 25+ years’ experience as a teacher and state examinations corrector, Elizabeth now writes for the education and careers industry. Her experience preparing students for examinations and running an academy for supplementary education give her invaluable insights into what it takes for job seekers and graduates to succeed in assessments.
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.