TARGETjobs black logo
City scape

Top tips for the recruitment process at RBS

The facts

Using the language of the job description is a good idea, as this will demonstrate your awareness of what’s expected of you in this role.

RBS is hiring for a wide range of graduate schemes and internship programmes from software engineering, data and analytics to HR and private banking. It’s not surprising, then, that the RBS recruitment team has some helpful tips on its website about its selection process; here at TARGETjobs, we are not looking to repeat them, but to build on them by giving you further practical pointers on how to succeed at each stage of RBS’ recruitment process.

Stage one in securing your career with RBS: application form


RBS’ application form asks you to complete basic personal details, including your education and work experience. When writing about your work experience, tailor the description of your responsibilities to the position you’re applying to. Using the language of the job description is a good idea, as this will demonstrate your awareness of what’s expected of you in this role.


The job description for RBS’ communications and marketing programme describes having a ‘customer focus’ and the ability to build ‘strong relationships’ as essential attributes. So, if you were writing about working as a part-time bookseller, a strong approach would be to explain how your customer focus was demonstrated by your willingness to spend time talking to customers about the books they liked, making tailored recommendations and ordering books if you didn’t have them in store.

Let’s take this example one step further. Say that you helped to run a book club with your colleagues. If you used the book club to widen the range of books you and your colleagues read, thereby improving your ability to make recommendations for customers, then this further emphasises your customer focus. Of course, even running a book group is also an example of how you built strong relationships with colleagues.

Stage two in securing your career with RBS: situational judgement test


For this part, you’ll be asked to give your responses to 15 scenarios you might expect to deal with as an employee at RBS. Begin your preparation by finding out all you can about the tasks you might carry out or the challenges of the job. Reading the job description carefully is important but you should make use of other mediums, too. The RBS employer hub on the TARGETjobs website provides useful videos of graduates on different programmes talking about their experiences of the company. The RBS company profile on LinkedIn has previously posted videos about the day-to-day lives of employees in different sectors, which may also inform you of the tasks you could undertake as an employee.

The careers section of RBS’ corporate website states that the situational judgement test is used by recruiters to ‘see if you share its values’. RBS’ values are: serving customers, working together, doing the right thing and thinking long term. So, consider how you would demonstrate these and the aptitudes listed in the job description during some likely situations. This will be a useful exercise whether or not they do come up – as you’ll get used to showing you’re a good fit for RBS in different situations. For further explanation of what each value means for the bank, make sure you read the section of RBS’ website dedicated to its values.


Let’s say you are applying to the risk graduate programme and you were given the scenario in which you’re provided with statistics about credit risk and asked questions about how you’d go about analysing them, interpreting them and using them to inform advice. You could remember the value ‘thinking long term’ and look into the detail of the data and consider what you can learn about the level of risk now, how it is changing and what it might look like in the future. NB: We are not saying that you will be given this scenario; we’ve only provided it as an example to illustrate how to consider RBS’ values when giving your responses.

Stage three in securing your career with RBS: logical and numerical reasoning tests


The careers section of the RBS website provides this explanation of the tests: ‘The logic side is designed to assess your ability to think conceptually and analytically. The numerical test measures your reasoning skills when using figures, data and statistics.’

During the test, work through each question systematically and try to stay calm. RBS suggests: ‘Don’t feel disheartened if you think you’ve done badly on a particular question – move on to the next one.’ You don’t have to get all the questions correct in order to be considered a strong candidate, so having some practice behind you and doing your best will often be enough. A timer will let you know how long you have to complete each question, so make sure you keep an eye on it.


Even if your logical and numerical reasoning skills are strong and honed through your degree or other activities, it’s a good idea to carry out some example tests beforehand to get familiar with the format they typically take. The TARGETjobs section on psychometric testing provides useful links to online practice tests, as well as information about this form of assessment.

Stage four in securing your career with RBS: video interview


The video interview will include questions based on your motivations and strengths. RBS advises: ‘Try to be specific in your answers, and avoid generalities and clichés.’

‘Why RBS?’ and ‘Why this division?’ are previous ‘motivation questions’ that RBS has asked candidates. Researching RBS – through its website, social media pages and by looking up any related news articles – will give you specific reasons for why you want to work for the company. You should also consider your reasons for choosing to apply for the particular programme and to work for a bank in general. Are you suited to a fast-paced working environment? Do you like the idea of gaining early responsibility and progressing your career rapidly? For each reason, think of an example that demonstrates this motivation – these examples could come from any area of your life, such as your education history, your extracurricular activities or from any part-time jobs.

When it comes to answering questions about your strengths, a strong approach would be to use your previous research to predict likely questions based on the skills, competencies and values that RBS wants to see in candidates, then think of examples you’d give to show that you possess that strength.

For instance, teamwork is important to RBS; previous video interviews have required candidates to talk about a time they were part of a team that didn’t work well together – but remember that, if you are asked a question similar to this, the exact wording will vary. When have you been part of a team in which you helped to drive success and what actions did you take to do so? When have you been in a team that faced challenges – such as that the members didn’t work well together – and how did you help to overcome them? When have you disagreed with a team member but worked cooperatively with them to reach an agreement?


If you’re asked to talk about a time you were part of a team that didn’t work well together, you should choose an example that demonstrates your ability to negotiate with other people and overcome problems. Perhaps you give the example of a time when many members of your netball team disagreed regarding the location of a trip you were helping to organise. If you drew up a list of the locations within your budget, asked everyone to vote for their favourite and suggested that the excursion took place at the destination with the most votes, that would highlight your people management ability.

Talking about how you communicated your thoughts effectively would also impress RBS – maybe you explained that it would be logical to visit the place that the majority were in favour of, rather than insisting that they must do so. If you weren’t instrumental in overcoming the team problems – or everything ended in disaster – focus instead on the lessons you’ve learned and how you now apply them to new team situations.

Our 'How to get hired' articles are written by TARGETjobs editors and writers with job candidates in mind, helping you research and understand employers. Copyright of all material written by TARGETjobs lies solely with GTI Media.