Psychometric testing has invaded the legal clerkship process. Got a great set of relevant extracurriculars? Doesn’t matter if you don’t get past the screening!
This is just one of various changes over the last 3 – 4 years that shake up how the entire clerkship process is managed. Is it making it harder? Only time will tell.
This post offers an overview of psychometric testing and tips on what you can do now to prepare.
Law firms use online (psychometric) testing to screen clerkship applicants
The biggest change over the last few years is the introduction of online psychometric testing. Law firms (and the testing providers) argue that psychometric testing ensures law firms can identify candidates with specific skill sets that would benefit their workplace.
There is one clear advantages for law students: it removes bias in the clerkship selection process. Because the testing is objectives, law students won’t be disadvantaged if they didn’t go to the “right” school, were unlucky to get the final interview slot for the day with a very tired interviewer, or simply didn’t get along with the interviewer.
There are more advantages for law firms, however.
In years past, HR teams would undertake the initial cull of the applications (which regularly exceeds 1000 at the largest Australian firms), and then the resume and cover letter of the first round applicants would be sent to lawyers to review. For example, 15 or 20 senior associates who review 10 or 15 applications each (total 150 – 300) and be asked to cull around half (total 75 – 150). The now smaller number would go to the partners (5 each).
Now, all of this work can be delegated to psychometirc testing which reduces the enormous workload of the the HR team, lawyers and partners in screening resumes and cover letters.
The other advantage for law firms is, as mentioned before, the idea that a specific personality type (or mix of personality types) can be chosen to suit the firm.
What psychometric tests are used by law firms?
The following psychometric testing is used by law firms:
- Revelian / Cognify – this seems to be the most popular test by far.
- Korn Ferry.
- Watson-Glaser critical thinking test.
Tips for psychometric testing
You will see advice that psychometric testing for clerkships and graduate programs does not require preparation. This is bad advice!
Try some of the following:
- At the very least, take some time to read about the test you’re taking so that you know what you’re up against.
- Some test providers will also also have practice tests available online – give them a shot.
- Check out YouTube. There is a surprising amount of information available there.
- Overall, be sensible. You don’t need to bunker down in the law school library for weeks on end, but at the same time, you don’t want to start your test without knowing what its going to involve.
You might not be able to game the test, but your ability to do well will significantly increase with some practice and awareness of what is expected of you. In short, don’t turn up to game day without practice.
- You can choose the time so whether you’re an early bird or night owl, choose the time of the day when you’re energy levels are best.
- Get a good night sleep the day before.
- Choose a time when there are no distractions.
For all Revelian testing your results are held by Revelian for 12 months and will be given to all firms that use the software. You only have one shot every 12 months so make it count!
Don’t forget networking as a way to avoid psychometric testing altogether. If you manage to meet with a partner and give a favourable impression, HR teams will generally take that partners advice to push you past testing.
Outdated advice is everywhere – you’re doing just fine!
You might have noticed a few comments in my posts from a few years ago saying you should “just apply to as many firms as you can and everything will be fine”.
While this advice ultimately still holds true in a general sense – you should try to apply to as many places as possible – the current clerkship applications are so time consuming that its just not this simple anymore. You can’t copy / paste your application so easily now!
Keep this in mind – and don’t beat yourself up – if anyone is telling you to copy / paste your application to 20+ firms (including on this blog). That’s probably an indication that they applied over 3 / 4 years ago. Seriously, it was easier back then.
Good luck with your clerkship applications, and if you have any extra information that could help other law students then leave a comment below!