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Why Law Firms Test Candidates: Our Preparation Tips

Published on: 1 Aug 2019

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In this article, Skillsarena provides information on the type of tests likely to be encountered by job seeking legal professionals and some tips on how to prepare.

Law firms regularly receive high volumes of applications for the vacancies they advertise. Narrowing candidates down by hand is an almost insurmountable task and the time required to read every application can result in missing some of the best candidates.

For this reason, law firms often test their candidates. This is a far faster method to discover which candidates will be able to do the job required of them. But do not fear – tests present just as many benefits to candidates as they do to employers.

Which tests might candidates need to complete?

Broadly speaking, there are two types of tests used in legal recruitment:

  1. Psychometric tests or Personality tests
  2. Skills tests

Psychometric or personality testing forms part of the recruitment process for many modern firms. Candidates cannot study to ‘pass’ these tests. They are designed to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of everyone who takes them, allowing the hiring manager or recruiter to learn what kind of personality each applicant has, and how they might fit in with the rest of the team.

Both tests provide an in-depth look at how a person thinks and behaves. In a high-pressure profession like law, it is vital to discover such knowledge before recruiting someone.

Skills tests focus on just that – the skills a person has. Law firms often require candidates to undergo legal skill tests that are usually tailored towards the role being applied for. They may, for example, involve legal proofreading or typing tests relating to the field.

Some firms require candidates to participate in both sets of tests to gain the most complete picture of each recruit.

How to prepare for recruitment tests

When applying for a position in a law firm, try and find out what kind of tests you will be required to complete. While you cannot prepare to take personality tests, knowing what to expect will make you feel more comfortable.

Skills tests, however, can be prepared for in advance. If you are applying for a legal typing role, for instance, you should have a decent idea of what the role entails. Even at entry level, you should be able to demonstrate the skills required to succeed in the role.

Once you have found out which tests you will face, you can read up on them and perhaps take some practice tests online before facing the real thing. While not the same as the real test, practice runs can help you to gain confidence and experience – both of which can be applied to the actual test on the day.

There is no doubt that the thought of taking a test can be daunting, but candidates do benefit from tests in the following ways:


1: They put time on your side 

There is usually limited information contained within a job advert, making it hard to know if the position is for you. We spend a third of our lives at work (never mind the commute), so most would agree that we would like to spend our time doing something we enjoy.  

While you should always do some pre-interview research into the company you are applying to – to ensure you are aware of their values and direction – sometimes you cannot guarantee you are a good fit until you reach the interview stage or even the job itself.

Skills testing helps filter out incompatible applicants, either because they are not suitably qualified or do not have the personality traits the employer is looking for.  

If you are not selected for interview following the tests, you can assume you’ve saved time. Perhaps that role was not suited to you after all. 


2: They allow you to focus on your skills 

These tests are an opportunity to see if you possess the skills and abilities you would need if you got the job. If you fail, you can move on to your next job application. Although failure is unpleasant, being given a role you are unsuited to could be even worse. 

Additionally, failing a specific part of the skills test can be a blessing in disguise, allowing you to recognise your weaknesses and work to improve them.


3: They give you a head start  

Skills testing usually takes place early in the hiring process, meaning that if you are called in for an interview you can attend with the confidence that you have the desired skills.

At this point, it is likely you have already surpassed many others who have applied for the same position as you and have a good chance at success.