Hints and tips

Remember your application is your opportunity to demonstrate the qualities we are looking for. It is your chance to show us your strengths and tell us why we need to meet you. We recruit people with the desire and ability to be exceptional, commercial lawyers. This means that we look for more than just a great academic record and strong technical aptitude. We seek people who are curious, empathetic and understand the importance of building relationships with clients and colleagues.

We also look for an international mind-set and a desire to work within our global network, not just one office. We are also interested to see applications from students with language ability, particularly fluent/native Mandarin (written and oral) skills.

Here are a couple of useful tips to remember.


It can be tempting to talk in generalisations about your attention to detail, exceptional communication skills, time management skills or ability to work effectively in a team. It’s much more powerful if you can demonstrate it.

  • try to be specific and use examples to demonstrate skills like communication, time management, and ability to work effectively in a team
  • use the cover letter to demonstrate your communication skills. Highlight your strengths and how they relate to the role, and explain why you are interested in working with us
  • give examples from your work or other experience that illustrate the skills we are looking for
  • think about your tone. A good application will sound professional but natural. Try reading your application aloud to check the tone
  • make sure you get your application in on time and allow time for any technical problems
  • remember we are also looking for attention to detail. Make sure you spell the name of the firm correctly and the name of the recruitment contact to whom you’re sending the application. Check your application carefully for spelling and grammatical errors. Better yet, get someone else to check it for you.


Think about the people who will be reading your application and what we are looking for. Try to tailor your application to us and help us get to know you, to understand why you want to work with us and to see your strengths.

  • keep it brief. Your cover letter should be about five paragraphs and your CV no more than three pages
  • think about how you set your application out. Use a logical structure. Make it easy for us to find the important information
  • highlight key achievements and experience, explain what they involved, what you got out of them and how you think they might relate to working with us
  • summarise other activities, experience and skills if they are not as directly relevant
  • make sure you leave enough room to tell us about your interests outside work and university. We’ve provided an example CV to help you prepare


Before the interview you will have had a chance to attend an event where you can meet our lawyers in an informal setting. We hope that you will be able to take the opportunity to come along and chat with our graduates as well as junior and senior lawyers. You will be able to ask any questions, and generally get a feel for what working with us is really like. Your interview is a chance to show us your professional, business side - so all those tips about turning up on time and dressing in a professional corporate style are useful. Beyond that - try to let us see you at your best.


You’re likely to be more confident and present better if you have prepared.

  • take every opportunity you can to meet with our people. And keep an eye out for recent news about the firm, clients, competitors and areas in which we work
  • practice for the interview with friends or family
  • think of some questions that you would like us to answer for you
  • be ready to discuss your experience in your interview. Make sure you keep a copy of your application and that you’ve reviewed it before your interview. Your interviewer will probably refer to it
  • try to allow enough time before your interview to catch your breath, refresh your memory and review any materials you are provided with


While we aim to make the interview itself as relaxed as possible, it is important you present and interact in a professional manner. The interview is intended to be a two-way process and provide an opportunity for you to see yourself working with us, as well as for us to get to know you. We want to try and give you a chance to tell us all about yourself. We’re particularly interested in your work experiences, extracurricular activities and interests, and why you think Herbert Smith Freehills is the right place for you.

There are a couple of specific interview tips that can help you to appear at your best.
  • listen carefully to the question, and don’t hesitate to check that you’ve understood it correctly or ask for clarification
  • take your time - a period of silence may feel like a lifetime but it’s better to pause than rush into the wrong answer
  • be honest. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. Often you can use the opportunity to ask a really good question
  • make eye contact with the interviewers. Try to relax and avoid fidgeting as it can be distracting
  • take a breath before answering a question, your voice will project better and it can help you sound less nervous

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