Barclays wants graduates to fully understand their chosen business area and role

If you have done an internship with Barclays or met recruiters or employers on campus, reflect on the information about the business that you obtained.

Graduates with a good understanding of their chosen business area and role at Barclays have a higher chance of being offered one of the bank’s trainee positions. This is because they’ll be equipped to convince recruiters that they truly want the job and have the required competencies to do it.

Carry out thorough research

The bank recruits graduates into six broad business areas subdivided into business units:

  • Banking (subdivided into global finance and risk solutions, corporate finance mergers and acquisitions, and financial institutions group)
  • Markets and research (sales, trading, research, quantitative analytics, trade capture team, and structuring)
  • Technology
  • Barclays UK (business banking, consumer banking, wealth management, and Barclaycard)
  • Corporate banking
  • Group functions (compliance, finance, human resources, marketing, risk, and treasury)

Research the business area

Job titles in Barclays’ job search are identified by title such as ‘2018 markets trade capture team summer internship London’ – so you’ll need to research the ‘markets’ business area of the Barclays site and also how the bank describes its trade capture work. But the search results also note job functions – for instance, ‘investment banking’ is referenced against ‘2018 banking off-cycle internship programme analyst London’.

There’s a description of the six divisions in the business areas section of the bank’s website. Read the one for your chosen division, but, as some descriptions are light on detail, it’s essential your research doesn’t stop there.

Check out Barclays on YouTube

Barclays’ early careers and graduates channel on YouTube is a useful source of information. It features short videos in which current hires at Barclays discuss aspects of their chosen business area and role. The videos naturally have an air of ‘Barclays is a wonderful place to work’ but you should focus on the facts about the scheme that support your application.

Making notes on the following would be useful at this stage:

  • typical projects that people in the department work on
  • the skills and competencies you need to succeed in the role
  • the day-to-day requirements of the job
  • who you’d be working with – colleagues, clients and otherwise
  • the training and development opportunities

Apply your knowledge

The application process for full-time graduate schemes at Barclays typically includes an online application form, an interview, online tests (normally around 60 minutes) and an assessment centre comprising interviews, a group exercise and a presentation. Throughout most of it, you'll need to demonstrate that you fully understand your chosen business area and role.

Student tip: answering Barclay’s questions

Having a good understanding of your chosen business area and graduate scheme will help you to answer questions you might be asked such as: ‘Why have you chosen to apply to this particular role and why at Barclays?’ and ‘Describe a recent development in the banking industry. What implications might this development have for the division to which you have applied?’ Think about the different aspects of the graduate programme (see the five bullet points above) and explain why you think you have got the right attitude, qualifications and skills to do the job.

With the first question, you could mention any of the five bullet points above to explain why you have chosen the particular graduate scheme. Perhaps you’re keen to work with colleagues across the business and clients throughout the financial sector, so a sales role within the markets and research division is ideal.

Bear in mind the first question is really asking two things: why the role and why Barclays? To answer the latter part, you’ll have to also think about and establish why you want to work for Barclays over other banks that offer a similar opportunity. Our guidance on tackling the question ‘Why do you want to work for this investment bank?’ will help you with this.

Student tip: navigating interviews

You will be asked questions similar to those above during your face-to-face interview. If you’re applying for the risk scheme, for instance, you could discuss Barclays’ five core values and explain that you possess the skills and competencies to encourage and help employees work to Barclays’ values, framework and goals. Underpin your response with a unique example of when you’ve displayed the referenced qualities at university, work or elsewhere. A past applicant to Barclays’ compliance graduate scheme said he was asked: ‘Why would you suit this role more than other candidates?’ He said he found this question difficult because he didn’t know the other candidates’ strengths (the key is not to be phased by the question – of course you’re not a mind reader – but to focus on your own strengths).

Be prepared for the assessment centre

If you make it to the assessment day, you’ll take part in a group exercise that typically resembles an on-the-job scenario. Assessors will judge you against Barclays’ core skills requirements, which include an ability to work under pressure, meet deadlines, solve problems and work within a team, as well as the more specific requirements of the graduate scheme.

This is where you also have to demonstrate what you have learned about your chosen role and business area. Being familiar with the required skills set is great, as you’ll know which competencies to exhibit on the day. Additionally, being aware of the typical projects that people in the department work on may enable you to anticipate – and prepare for – the type of exercise that you’ll be given.

If you have applied for Barclays’ wealth management programme, for instance, you may be given a scenario in which you have a private client who has £3.5m after selling their business and wants to increase the value of their funds through investments. Investment options would have to be considered, as would financial planning and the individual’s circumstance.

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