MBA Recruiter Interview: Barclays

MBA recruiter interview with Barclays

Barclays is a transatlantic consumer, corporate and investment bank offering products and services across personal, corporate and investment banking, credit cards and wealth management, with a strong presence in two markets - the UK and the US.

Barclays’ head of banking associate recruitment (at the time of this interview), Kristi Robson, says that, “a large diversified financial institution like Barclays is best placed during periods of economic uncertainty, because [it has] the scope and scale to be able to give people opportunities.” Most of the MBAs that are hired by the company work in its banking divisions, with the largest intake going into investment banking.

Once MBAs sign on to work at Barclays, they are given a lot of support and training so they can carve out their own career path within the company. To this end, the company offers a pre-matriculation program called ‘MBA Ambition’ as well as a rotational program for new hires that’s unique to Wall Street. In this interview, Robson discusses what the company looks for in its MBA hires and offers her top tips for getting a job at this global financial giant.

Barclays offers MBAs, "responsibility from the onset."Why do MBAs want to work for Barclays?

There are many answers to this question but, more than anything, it's our culture – we have an extremely friendly, supportive and respectful environment where team members are approachable and invested in the success of our associates.

Incoming MBAs are given responsibility from the onset, it is a steep learning curve and we challenge them to go beyond ‘business as usual’. No client is the same and no project is the same, so we encourage people to share ideas that help us to deliver consistently to our clients.

We offer world-class training both in our summer programs and full time. There are so many prospects for growth and Barclays’ scope and scale bring many opportunities. Associates have the chance to move into different business areas and geographies. We also have incredibly strong formal and informal mentorship programs in place to ensure people feel supported and are successful here.

Could you clarify what you mean when you say Barclays brings, “the scope and scale to provide many opportunities”?

It's the variety and opportunity to get involved in work that makes a difference from day one.  When our MBAs join us, they're expected to be a full-time associate from the onset and to make an impact. We offer development at the start and throughout their career that will hopefully help them grow with us. 

Can you please provide an overview of Barclays’ MBA recruitment and interview process? Is it the same worldwide or does it vary by region?

It varies by region to ensure we are mindful of the differences that exist in each place.

In the Americas, our recruitment process has two distinct stages to it.

We start around April each year with our pre-matriculation MBA Ambition program that targets diverse candidates and provides them with an opportunity to secure a summer internship before they step in to business school.

Then, we begin our fall on-campus recruitment in September where we hold a series of different events at schools we have built up strong relationships with.

Depending on the school rules, we generally hold our interviews in January, either at the school or in our offices. We encourage people to make informed career decisions, so regardless of which stage of the recruitment process people apply to, someone (or a team) from the business will be involved to answer their questions and provide advice and support.

Why does Barclays offer the pre-matriculation program?

We want to make sure we are reaching a wide audience and our jobs are accessible to everybody, which is why we invest a lot of time and commitment into our MBA Ambition program. We create an awareness of opportunities in banking all year round to hopefully help people make informed career choices.

What are the most common job roles for MBAs?

We hire MBAs mainly into our banking division; this is where we have our largest intake. Within this, interns and graduates will go into a product or coverage role in Equity Capital Markets or Technology, Media & Telecommunication, for example. We do hire a small number of MBAs into our research business but this is dependent on business need.

What do you look for when evaluating résumés and candidate experience? Are there any important skills you look for that might not occur to MBA job candidates?

People tend to think banking is very technical and, therefore, you must have a background which shows you have this experience.

However, a lot of people from varied backgrounds can find success in a banking role. What we typically see in Barclays is people who have a proactive nature, willingness to take ownership of projects and attention to detail; people who can build relationships with clients and are able to convey ideas coherently. As an associate you will work closely with analysts, so good leadership and demonstrating solid team working skills are critical.  

Do you have some examples of people from non-traditional backgrounds that have found jobs at Barclays?

We're very focused on recruiting veterans. While they don't typically have banking backgrounds, their transferable skills are hugely important to us and provide them with a platform to have a very successful career at Barclays.

Which business schools does Barclays recruit from and why?

Barclays’ success depends on our talent - we are very much a service organization, therefore we look to recruit the best and brightest. We partner with schools typically found atop of business school list, however, we welcome applications from everywhere.

What are some dos and don'ts students should be aware of during the recruitment process?

Wall Street is much smaller than you think. It’s important to be honest and respectful as you never know who you’ll meet down the road later in your career. It's very likely you will end up working on deals with other people from different firms so it's important to maintain positive relationships, and this starts from the recruitment process.

In addition, getting to know junior people is as important as getting to know senior people. These are the people you will work with on a day-to-day basis and will be the ones that help you early on in your career.

Be open minded when you begin your recruitment efforts; explore product and coverage roles and figure out what works best not just with your skills and preferences, but your personality too.

What does Barclays expect from new MBA hires? What can new hires do to increase their chances for advancement down the road?

There is an expectation that our hires will be interacting with clients early on - they should take ownership of projects, learn from and manage the work of analysts and quickly come up to speed on Barclays’ products and services.

That said, we recognize that people don't know everything when they start. After six weeks of initial training, associates do three five-week rotations across product and coverage groups to give them the knowledge and provide the exposure needed to help decide which group they ultimately want to join permanently. This experience builds skillsets and makes our associates more well-rounded bankers, as they get to see the bigger picture and how everything works together. People should make the most out of this unique opportunity. We have a dedicated program team who are focused on your long-term development, performance and offer coaching. There is a clear career path from the onset and direction on how to advance; you are supported at each stage.

Does making the most of opportunities at Barclays mean reaching out and building networks within the company?

Partly, yes; we offer support all the way through the program, including opportunities to network and opportunities for mentorship at both the junior and senior levels. Candidates need to make the most of that opportunity, but also make the most of the development and training that we offer as well - and be able to put that into practice.

Is there anything else MBAs should know before applying for jobs at Barclays?

You can only apply for one program, globally, so it is important to do your research and due diligence before you apply and make informed choices. Use the resources that your school offers – they help you prepare and are there primarily to ensure your success – make the most of that opportunity.

Written by Nicole Willson

Nicole is the SEO manager of TopMBA.com, as well as a contributing author. She holds a BA in history and sociology, and a master's in library science. Aside from her work for QS, Nicole is a long-time contributing editor and administrator for WikiHow.

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