Last week Isabella Crocker, head of graduate recruitment at solicitors’ firm Mayer Brown LLP, came to talk to us about commercial awareness, a quality every City law firm looks for in candidates and which many students struggle with at interview. Ms. Crocker showed us some helpful exercises for improvement of commercial awareness which went well beyond the usual, “Just read the Financial Times!” These included:
– Thinking about a company e.g. Pizza Express from a commercial point of view: What products or services does it provide? What kind of customers does it target? Who are its main competitors?
– Identifying the commercial elements in our work experience and extra-curricular activities. These could include managing a budget, fundraising, working in a shop, or organising an event for charity.
– Practising answers to commercial interview questions such as, “What are the main challenges facing the legal sector in the current climate?” “What would you do if you were managing director of X company?”
These exercises show that you don’t have to be a financial expert or work in a top company to have commercial awareness. Trying them out with friends is great interview practice!