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How to ace your Barclays interview

Our answers to your most burning questions about interviewing.

Interviews can be daunting. We know that – we’ve been through them ourselves. But it’s important to remember that if you land an interview at Barclays, it’s because we like what we’ve seen so far. We recruit people from all backgrounds, so don’t think you have to conform to a type. We don’t have one – unless it’s the type that’s bright, collaborative and full of initiative.

Having said that, we can give you plenty of pointers on how to shine at any interview you have with us, whether it’s face-to-face, online or over the phone.

Here are answers to some of the questions we’re asked most often.

How do I keep my nerves under control?

Practice! Get your friends or family to ask you questions. Watch yourself in a mirror. Film yourself and critique your performance. It’s also a good idea to think about the questions we’re likely to ask and write down your answers. Just a couple of bullets that you can recall quickly should do the trick. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel. Taking a deep breath before each answer is always a good way to calm any jitters. And don’t forget that the person across the table from you has been in your shoes before and will likely be trying their best to make you feel comfortable. Most importantly, be yourself. We want to get to know you as much as you want to learn about us.

How should I answer ‘Why do you want to work at Barclays?’

There’s no one right answer to this. People want to work for us for all sorts of reasons. What’s important is that you’ve done your research, thought about what you want to do here and why, and can give us your reasons clearly and enthusiastically. Most students don’t know what they want to do as they enter university, and if you just recently figured out that you have an interest in financial markets, or business or Human Resources, that’s fine. Explain it to us. There’s probably an interesting story behind it, and as we unwrap it together in the interview, it’s going to help us understand what drives you.

How do I handle a question about my strengths and weaknesses?

This is a tough one, we admit. It calls for a bit of self-analysis. Think about the kind of friend, roommate and student you are. And ask people who know you well what they’d say your strengths and weaknesses are. The upside of doing this is you’re more likely to avoid stock answers like ‘I stretch myself too thin’, which we may have heard many times already that day. Focus on no more than a couple of strengths and explain how they’d help you perform well in our business. The same goes for weaknesses – pick one or two and tell us how you’ve overcome them.

What if I’m asked a question I’m not prepared for?

We want to find out how well you can think on your feet, so approach the question thoughtfully and analytically. Think aloud if you want to, ask for clues or work it through with the interviewer. And whatever you do, don’t just give up without trying.

What are the main qualities you’re looking for?

It depends on the business area you want to join. If you’re aiming for a career in Research for instance, you’ll need to be a naturally curious person who can synthesize a lot of information quickly, is confident with numbers and good at writing and presenting. And of course, a strong interest in financial markets is a must. You can get more information about what we look for in each role by browsing the ‘Opportunities’ section of this site. Across the board, we generally look for resourcefulness, a teamwork mentality, enthusiasm and an entrepreneurial spirit, often shown through taking part in extracurricular activities.

The key to preparing for any interview is to do your homework on what the job involves. The better you understand that, the better you’ll be at anticipating which skills are key to that role – and working out how to showcase that you have them.

What’s the best way to stand out?

Show us you’re intellectually curious, full of initiative and have sound judgment. Oh, and convince us you really want to work for us (re-read the answer to the second question above).

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