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Applying for a training contract: The call that changed my life

Photo of Jen Kingsmill

When I was looking for firms to apply to it was really important to find one that allowed me to put my best self forward.

TLT was already a firm that I was interested in because its ambitious, innovative approach and CSR initiatives are important to me.

Fair, accessible and personal

TLT’s application process is mainly strengths-based and is designed to understand your potential. This means that regardless of your social background, race, sexuality or disability, you have an equal chance to succeed. Throughout the application process this approach was clear and showed me that TLT wanted to work with me to support and develop my strengths. 

One way that TLT helped me showcase my strengths was through its dedicated Diversity and Corporate Responsibility Advisor, who was on hand throughout the process.  I was contacted at each stage of the process to agree reasonable adjustments needed to ensure I was not at a disadvantage because of my disability. This personalised and thoughtful approach to hiring evidenced TLT’s dedication to giving people from all backgrounds an equal opportunity.

The online application is set out in an accessible way and from the outset TLT asks if you have any mitigating circumstances which should be taken into consideration, or if you require any reasonable adjustments. TLT asks three substantive questions in the application, but there are no 'right' answers; the questions allow each individual to demonstrate their own motivations and answer them in a way which showcases your approach.

Video interviews and critical thinking tests

After getting through the first stage, you're invited to a video interview. I found this a strange experience initially, however TLT appreciates that candidates may feel that way. To accommodate this, TLT offers the opportunity to see the question and consider it before recording begins.

It's important not to sound too scripted, but to relax as much as possible as TLT wants you to be authentic.

The video interview is included in the application process to allow TLT to get an idea of what you're like as a person, how you communicate, and to see your personality from the online application come to life. This, again, encouraged me to be myself and engage with the process.

The penultimate stage of the process is the Watson Glaser Test - an objective critical thinking test.

When TLT invited me to this stage I was given a reasonable deadline to complete the test so that I had time to prepare.

In addition, from my conversation with the Diversity and Corporate Responsibility Advisor, TLT made reasonable adjustments to ensure I was on an equal footing with other candidates.

The final stage – assessment day

I was ecstatic to receive an invite to the final stage - the assessment centre. My first choice firm had seen my potential in the process so far and wanted me to showcase my strengths in person.

The assessment day is split into four sections:

  • the presentation
  • the interview
  • the written assessment
  • and the group exercise.

Each assessment is designed to enable you to show your strengths under different circumstances. Throughout the day I was encouraged to ask questions and get to know TLT, as of course TLT was showcasing itself to me as well.

The presentation

The topic of the presentation was given to me in advance, giving me ample time to research and prepare. The presentation was around ten minutes long, with twenty minutes of discussion afterwards. The topic of the presentation was quite open, which meant I could present on a subject that I was truly passionate about.

The interview

Before the interview it's explained that TLT doesn't use a competency interview. TLT interviewers have been trained to perform strengths-based interviewing, which is about understanding what you enjoy doing, not just what you are capable of doing.

It's a very candidate-led interview and your assessors are not allowed to ask probing questions, which feels strange at first, but I quickly relaxed into it. This method of interviewing does not favour any one particular type of person, but looks at a combination of strengths aligned to TLT. In addition, I could ask for a question to be repeated, take time to consider my answer and make notes without it affecting how I was assessed. This way of interviewing put me in the best position to shine.

The written assessment

The written exercise is there to ensure you have the ability to write well in clear and plain English and is not based on your legal knowledge. I read a passage of text, understood the relevant information, and then wrote a corresponding document. Any reasonable adjustments were also taken into consideration so that my assessment was not affected. TLT is looking to see if you have the basic skills which can then be developed.

The group excercise

After lunch with the trainees, we moved to the group exercise, which encourages you to show how well you can work in a team. As the teams were small, I knew that, as long as I contributed positively to my team, my strengths would stand out and be seen by my assessors.

The decision – did I make the grade?

A couple of hours after the assessment centre, I received a call from the Graduate Recruitment Officer at TLT.

She asked for my thoughts on the day and how I thought I had performed. She then gave me detailed feedback, specifically focusing on my strengths as well as providing constructive feedback on areas to improve.

She then changed my life by offering me a training contract! On a train to Chester, with tears of happiness in my eyes, I gladly accepted.

What happens next…

TLT supports future trainees who are yet to complete the GDL and LPC by funding the course and providing a bursary. For me, this means I can concentrate wholly on completing the LPC without needing to maintain a job.

When it comes to the LPC, the firm appreciates each person has their own interests so allows candidates to pick their own electives as long as they are in line with the firm's main areas of practice.

Applying for training contracts can feel like a laborious process and can give the impression that it's 'you against the system'. However, TLT’s strengths-based application process offers each person equal opportunity to stand out, fully based on their own merits. This supportive and flexible approach meant I felt confident to put forward the very best version of me.