- Competences and qualifications
- Application tips
- Selling yourself in writing
- Interviews explained
- Selling yourself face to face
- Assessments and tests
Competences and qualifications
This is the introductory page to hints, tips and strategies that we’ve compiled and researched to help you get hired or find work experience with Barclays Capital. Further sections of this Employer Insight show how the skills required below are used within the context of Barclays Capital and what you should do as a candidate.
- The ‘selling yourself in writing’ section helps you to promote the skills below in the context of written applications to Barclays Capital.
- The ‘selling yourself face to face’ section helps you to promote the skills below in the context of graduate interviews with Barclays Capital.
- ‘Applications tips’, ‘Interviews explained’ and ‘Assessments and tests’ detail the timings and processes of each stage of Barclays Capital’s selection.
Applicants to Barclays Capital should have a very good degree and strong communication skills that will enable them to interact effectively both with external clients and within their own teams. Some of the other skills sought by recruiters are:
- Business skills – more to do with customer interaction than anything else, this is about understanding clients and fulfilling their needs efficiently.
- Commercial effectiveness – the ability to bring in clients and make a profit.
- Control environment – the ability to identify risks; this is particularly important given the new rules and regulations affecting the banking and investment sector.
- Management and leadership – the ability to work under pressure and motivate others. At Barclays, this will involve managing impending deadlines and producing results for major clients.
- Personal and interpersonal skills – the ability to work well in a team and identify areas for personal development.
- Technical knowledge – as it says on the tin. Applicants should be very clear about how what sort of technical knowledge is needed in their potential role.
Further Barclays Capital competencies to consider
Having taken the BarCap MindMap exercise (more details on which can be found in our ‘assessments & tests’ section), prospective Barclays Capital graduates and interns will find that they have been assessed on four key skills:
- Decisiveness: the ability to make confident decisions, often under significant pressure, in order to manage risk.
- Numeracy: knowledge of the fundamentals, as well as the potential to develop an understanding of more complicated mathematics.
- ‘Word power’: verbal and written communication will be important in any BarCap role. ‘Word Power’ also highlights the growing emphasis on foreign languages.
- Reaction times: the ability to react quickly to ongoing developments is crucial in such a fast-moving industry.
‘We focus on educating people so they understand that they don’t necessarily need to have a financial degree background. We want to have different people from different backgrounds. A word of caution, though: questions will be exactly the same for all candidates, regardless of whether they studied economics or maths or not.’
Jane Clark, head of campus recruitment, Barclays Capital
Applicants to Barclays Capital can also apply to the Barclays Global Retail business, but not to Barclays Wealth or Barclays Corporate. This is to avoid unnecessary duplicate assessment of the same application – Barclays Capital, Barclays Corporate and Barclays Wealth work closely together during the recruitment process.
Applications for all schemes at BarCap (Barclays Capital) open on 1 August each year. Interviews and assessment centres are carried out as and when suitable numbers of applications have passed the initial assessment requirements. The deadline for graduate positions is on or around 15 November. For internships, the final deadline is 31 December.
However, applicants are expected to apply well in advance of these closing dates because recruitment is conducted on a rolling basis – once places are filled, applications are closed regardless of the official deadline.
Once places are filled, applications are closed regardless of the official deadline.
Barclays Capital application process
- Online form, including a one-page CV
- Online tests, both numerical and verbal reasoning – these are provided by SHL and candidates should know whether they have passed within 24 hours of taking each test. Both must be completed within a five-day period.
- Phone interview – for further details see our ‘interviews explained’ section.
- Assessment centre – for further details see our ‘assessments and tests’ section.
Barclays Capital’s online application form
The graduate and internship online application form is straightforward. Candidates must fill out some personal contact details and specify which division they are applying to, and where. Candidates are able to select two roles within Barclays Capital and two locations – it’s a good idea to be as flexible as possible with location.
Candidates are also asked to fill in some additional details about work history and extra-curricular activities. Use this section as an extension of your CV – it’s an opportunity to further promote your skills and experiences, so don’t waste it by re-stating the same things as in your CV.
The application form features three competency questions requiring answers of no more than 90 words each. For strategies on how to answer these questions, read our ‘selling yourself in writing’ section.
Finally, applicants will be asked to upload a one-page CV. An example of a suitable investment banking CV can be viewed here.
Forward planning for Barclays Capital internship applicants
Internship applicants are expected to apply to just one region and are advised to think ahead about where they would like to work if recruited onto the graduate scheme – they should apply for an internship at the same location as where they hope to work as a graduate.
Graduate scheme and internships open: 1 September 2012
Selling yourself in writing
This section provides advice on how to answer the on the Barclays Capital online application form. For a run-down of the application process as a whole, read our ‘application tips’ section.
For both the graduate schemes and internships, there are three competency questions to answer on the application form. Recruiters review this form and your CV alongside one another in order to make their decisions, so they’re of equal importance.
Each of the following questions has a 90 word maximum word-limit.
Barclays Capital online application question one: Which qualities and skills do you possess that make you suited to the role you’ve applied for?
Point of question: Do you actually know what it is you’re applying for? Do you appreciate the variety of different roles there are at an investment bank such as Barclays Capital, and can you show why your interest lies in one particular area?
How to tackle the question: This is all about understanding the role you’re applying for. A surprisingly common mistake is that applicants will talk about broad skills such as ‘communication’ or ‘teamwork’ – these terms are far too general to be related to a specific job. You have to answer the question in a maximum of 90 words, so try to cover three different skills in 30 words each (a detailed list of the skills Barclays Capital looks for can be found in our ‘competencies and qualifications’ section). Think, also, about the competencies detailed in BarCap’s MindMap game (see the ‘assessments and tests’ section). Think about why these skills are important in your potential job role..
Barclays Capital online application question two: From the research that you have done on our industry, how does Barclays Investment Bank differentiate itself from our competitors?
Point of question: This is not just a fact-finding mission. The depth of your research tells the employer a great deal about how well you understand Barclays Capital’s business and how serious you are about the job.
Your BarCap research is not just a fact-finding mission
How to tackle: Read the reports and press releases that Barclays Capital have produced and think about what these tell you about both BarCap and the industry in general. Why, for example, has Barclays Capital asked institutional clients for their views on the ‘fiscal cliff’? Why has it strengthened its trade and working capital team in India? It’s important that you talk about issues that not only interest you, but also relate to your potential role.
Barclays Capital online application question three: Describe a recent development in the investment banking industry. What implications might this development have for the division to which you have applied?
Point of question: Are you able to understand the wider picture of how local, national and international news can affect your division of the investment bank?
How to tackle: Treat this as a mini-case study – you need to show recruiters that you can take a lot of material and extract the most significant information from it. Many will talk about the UK’s ring-fencing of investment banks from their retail partners – an understanding of this will be important, but can you actually explain it? How does Barclays Capital’s structure determine how this ruling will affect them compared to their competitors?
Try to use an example that isn’t too obvious – if you use the same example as many other candidates, it will be harder for you to stand out. More useful information be found in the ‘overview’ section of this Employer Insight.
This section details the structure of interviews at Barclays Capital for graduates and interns. For details on how to approach answering the questions you’ll face, read our, ‘selling yourself face to face’ section.
Number of Barclays Capital interviews
The number of interviews candidates will face varies depending on the division. In general, the next stage after the assessment of CVs and application forms is a phone interview, followed by a series of interviews at the assessment centre. This could be as few as two interviews, or as many as five.
Interviewers at assessment centres are likely to be more senior members of staff, such as line managers, and applicants will not be interviewed by the same person twice. Interviews are always carried out on a one-to-one basis.
Do you know how the outside world affects Barclays Capital?
How much technical knowledge do you need for a Barclays Capital interview?
A reasonable amount of technical knowledge will be required for graduate interviews at Barclays Capital. Applicants are not expected to have an in-depth awareness of the day-to-day work of their potential division, but some understanding of its functionality and how it fits into the wider business is essential. Furthermore, prospective graduates and interns alike should have an understanding of BarCap’s markets. You need to be aware of how external developments can affect BarCap’s business.
If you’re given a case study on the first day of the Barclays Capital assessment centre, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to deliver your findings in the form of a presentation on the second day. Be prepared to answer questions on your presentation.
Selling yourself face to face
This section provides advice on how to answer Barclays Capital interview questions. For further details on the structure of interviews, read our ‘interviews explained’ section. The ‘assessments and tests’ section of this Barclays Capital Insight also provides more information for interviews at that stage.
Barclays Capital telephone Interview question one: ‘Why Barclays Capital?’
Point of question: Are you applying to Barclays Capital for a specific reason, or is it just another in a long list of investment banks you’ve applied to?
How to approach: Compare Barclays Capital with other investment banks, and then compare it with the other branches of Barclays. Why does Barclays Capital appeal to you most? You’ll be able to find relevant details in further Employer Insights here. By comparing news stories you’ll be able to identify current areas of focus, current initiatives that you could get involved in, and views put out by BarCap specifically. If you can talk about these confidently, you will come across as well-researched and capable.
Potential follow-up question:Why have you chosen this division at BarCap?
Barclays Capital telephone Interview question two: ‘Why investment banking?’
Point of question: Do you actually know about the industry, or is it just that you’ve been seduced by the glamour of the field?
How to approach: An expansion on the first question, this question is about determining whether you are actually suited to investment banking in general. Again, research on BarCap is key: look at recent developments and explain why they interest you and how you think you would be suited to the work involved in the sector.
Potential follow-up question:What do you think you’ll be doing on a day-to-day basis in your job?
Barclays Capital telephone Interview question three: ‘If you were in a team that was performing well, but thought it could still do better, what would you do?’
Point of question: Are you satisfied if you have reached a set achievement, or do you attempt to go a bit further? Would you be able to present your recommendations in a diplomatic fashion?
How to approach: Put yourself in the position of a graduate analyst actually working at BarCap. Your team knows what they’re doing, and have achieved what was asked of them – but you’ve spotted something extra that could be of value to the client. Are you going to talk to your team about it, or go straight the team manager? Bear in mind that you may be creating more work for your team members, who may be exhausted already. These are the kinds of issues you would face in this situation – where have you faced them already in your life? That will give you the basis of an example to relate to in your answer. If you have been in a similar situation before and handled it badly, don’t be afraid to mention it – just be sure to explain how you would do things differently in future. An answer like this would show that you are capable of identifying your weaknesses and working to improve on them.
Potential follow-up question: If a team member disputed your view, how would you handle the situation?
Barclays Capital assessment centre Interview question one: Tell me about the principles behind financial derivatives
Point of question: This question is more likely to come up in interviews for more technical schemes. The question is designed to determine whether you know the basics, or at least are capable of quickly learning that knowledge.
I always advise applicants to track a stock; it will give them plenty to talk about at interview.
How to approach: Read the financial sections of as many newspapers and trade magazines as you can. Don’t just define what a financial derivative is, but also explain how they are used and why BarCap would use them. Are there any news stories you’ve read where BarCap has done some work that would have involved the use of financial derivatives?
Potential follow-up question: How would you use financial derivatives in your graduate role at BarCap?
Barclays Capital assessment centre Interview question two: ‘What do you think of the current trends in investment banking?
Point of question: One part of this question is to find out whether you’re up-to-date with the news in a fast-paced industry, and whether you actually understand what’s going on. Another is to see whether you’ve analysed this news for yourself; remember that your graduate role will be as an analyst (in the vast majority of cases) so analysing data, statistics and markets is crucial.
How to approach: How are you going to define a ‘trend’? Do you consider the future ring-fencing of investment banks from retail banks in the UK a trend, or is this a unique development? Are there particular markets, such as Brazil or China, that are affecting the way in which investment banks like BarCap are thinking?
Potential follow-up question: How will these trends affect what you do on a day-to-day basis in a job with BarCap?
Barclays Capital assessment centre Interview question three: ‘What is the biggest test you have faced so far?’
Point of question: This question can really get to the heart of who you are as a person. Whatever ‘test’ you choose to talk about says something about you and gives the interviewer an idea of whether you’re confident, nervous, thoughtful, impulsive, or any number of other characteristics.
How to approach: You need to paint yourself in as strong an image as possible without exaggerating – a candidate who over-embellishes is just as bad as one who sells themselves short. Relate your example to your potential graduate role at BarCap – if you’re applying for a research post, you could talk about a particular topic you found difficult, or any occasions when organising an effective research team proved challenging. Don’t focus on the problem, though: instead, you should emphasise what you did to overcome it. What was the result of your actions? Can you quantify your success?
Potential follow-up question: If you had the chance to do that task again, what would you do differently?
‘You need to have a broad knowledge of economic indicators: things like house prices or oil prices, how they fluctuate and the moving indicators that are used. I always advise applicants to track a stock; the trends they observe will help them to see things in a broader context and will give them plenty to talk about at interview.’
Jane Clark, head of campus recruitment, Barclays Capital
Assessments and tests
Assessment centres typically run across two days. They are usually held at Barclays Capital’s offices in Canary Wharf, although hotels in the region have also been used in the past.
Barclays Capital’s ‘MindMap’ tool
Applicants to Barclays Capital are able to take an unassessed online test that will introduce them to the kinds of competencies BarCap recruiters will be looking for at the assessment centre.
The first part of the test sees a number of bouncing balls appear on screen. Within each of these, a number is either rising or falling; the ball will expand as the number rises and shrink as the number decreases. Candidates are required to get the highest score possible by clicking on a ball and letting the number rise as high as possible before it begins to fall. This is a very simplistic measure of how a trader has to watch the stock markets.
At the same time, further tasks pop in from the right of the screen. While keeping the balls in play, candidates must form four-letter words (or more) from a selection of nine letters. This is verbal reasoning or ‘word power’ part of the test. Then, with balls still bouncing around, a numerical task requiring candidates to work out simple sums via a calculator appears.
While keeping the balls in play, candidates must form four-letter words (or more).
As if that wasn’t enough, a stock ticker appears across the bottom of the screen. Candidates are required to click on the goods that can be traded on the stock market.
Eventually, candidates will find that a whole host of these tasks appear on screen. Once completed, you’ll be given a breakdown score, which tells you which areas you did well in or where you could improve, and also provides a bar graph of how you performed against the rest of the pack.
The Barclays Capital assessment centre
Each assessment centre is designed to be as relevant as possible to the division that applicants are being considered for. Tasks will be tailored to particular divisions.
The number of attendees at each assessment centre can vary depending on schedules. Although as many as 100 graduates might attend one assessment centre, candidates will only really work with up to seven other candidates during the group task. The number of assessors increases with the number of candidates, so there is no reason to worry about your chances of being assessed fairly.
The assessment centre could include any combination of the following:
- Tour of the Barclays Capital building
- Psychometric tests: when these are held, they are generally similar to the tests undertaken earlier in the application process. At this stage, however, they will be conducted via pen and paper rather than online.
- A series of interviews: generally lasting 30 minutes each. More details on the structure of these can be read in our ‘interviews explained’ section, with tips and strategies for answering your interview questions in the ‘selling yourself face-to-face’ section.
- Case study: this is usually given to candidates at the end of the first day after dinner. A key issue with this task is that it needs to competed and handed in by 6.45 the next morning – there is little time for candidates to relax.
- Group activity: this varies depending on the division graduates and interns are applying for. Some examples of possible activities include:
- Trading game: specific to the BarCap trading and structuring graduate assessment centre, the trading game is usually held in the morning before interviews in the afternoon. The game involves working in teams; participants are given 15 cards to trade with other teams.
- Rollerball: a practical team-working exercise where candidates are put into teams of around eight people. The task is to use blocks to build a run for a ping-pong ball. The idea is to get the ping-pong ball to the other end of the table in as long as time as possible. Not only, therefore, are you being tested on your teamwork skills, but also on your abilities to think creatively and innovatively to extend your time. Reports suggest this is used in assessment centres for BarCap’s research and quantitative analytics graduate schemes.
- Presentation: some of the schemes require applicants to conduct an individual presentation as part of their assessment centre. Information will be provided at the assessment centre. In the past, this presentation has related to the case study (above). Applicants are quizzed on their findings in an interview scenario after they have delivered their presentation.
‘We’ve tried to make the assessment centres an on-the-job simulation. They are closely aligned to specific divisions. For example, in HR we’d be looking to test for internal consulting skills. In investment banking, we give a real-life case study for people to work on. The aim is not just to assess a candidate, but also for a candidate to see whether they’re actually going to enjoy the work they’d be doing in the division.’
Jane Clark, head of campus recruitment, Barclays Capital
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