All firms are looking for it, but what does “Commercial awareness” mean?
And how to prepare for an interview for a training contract to demonstrate your “Commercial Awareness”?
“READ THE ECONOMIST AND THE FT.”
That’s what I was told and it’s probably very good advice, but it’s important to think about why. I made the mistake of thinking that it’s all about being able recount the chronological chapters in each news story. But it’s not.
The best interview question that I ever had (Magic Circle law firm) was “What should you think about if you were advising someone wanting to open a restaurant?” – oh dear, my avid reading of the FT and Economist hadn’t really prepared me for that.
Yes, these “case-study” type questions are all about commercial awareness – but it’s not about general knowledge – it’s more about having an opinion that you can defend, spotting the big issues, knowing what more information you need, dealing with ambiguity, problem solving, and structured thinking – all with a business-like approach. And I think that this can be practised.
I think that lawyers and candidates for legal jobs have a lot to learn from Management Consultants and their interview processes – this is from Bain – http://www.bain.com/bainweb/pdfs/acethecase.pdf.