Answers to your top 11 questions about interviewing: Part 2

Experienced interviewers share further advice and insights on the interview process.

Interview season is here and we’re back with more answers to your top questions from our experienced interviewers. If you missed part 1, you can find it here.

How do I handle a question I haven’t prepared an answer for in advance?

More often than not, interviewers are more focused on testing your ability to learn and grasp concepts than testing for specific knowledge. The strongest candidates are those who demonstrate that they can think critically when faced with a challenging situation, so show your interviewer that you are able to think on your feet. So if you hear a question you’re unfamiliar with, stay calm and approach it thoughtfully and analytically to the best of your ability. Ask for clues, think aloud and try to work through the problem with your interviewer. If you need a minute to organize your thoughts or if you think putting pen to paper will help you to respond, just let your interviewer know. The main thing you don’t want to do is just give up.

How do I keep my nerves under wraps?

Practice! Ask friends or family, watch yourself in the mirror, or even consider videotaping yourself answering questions so that you can see how you react and how you come across. If you understand how you react when you’re nervous, you are more able to recognize it and therefore control it during your interview.

Two other tips:


  • Try writing down 2-3 bullets for common questions you expect to be asked so that you can quickly recall them in the interview 
  • Take a deep breath before you answer as a way to remind yourself to slow down and think before you speak so you can craft a succinct and thoughtful answer


What are you looking for when you ask “Why do you want to work at Barclays?”

There is no one right answer to this question, but how you answer telegraphs your level of interest in working for Barclays. We want to know you’ve done your research on us. That you understand what we stand for and that you can explain how you think that Barclays will be a good fit for you. There are many ways to research Barclays, including looking through our website, networking with people who work at Barclays or looking up recent articles about our firm.

How do I stand out in an interview?

You can differentiate yourself by highlighting your intellectual curiosity, initiative and judgment in the interview and recruiting process. Candidates that have depth in these areas tend to be the best performers during the internship and beyond in full-time roles with Barclays.

Are thank you notes still a thing?

Thank you notes are timeless.  The question is how and when to use what type of thank you note.  We try to move pretty quickly with our responses after interviews, sometimes reaching students while they’re on the way home.  In those cases, obviously we’ve made you the job offer and not sending a thank you note isn’t likely to change that. That said it’s a positive habit to begin early in your career.  Beyond any message conveyed in the note itself, the act of sending it conveys a sense of humility, judgment and professionalism that is typically associated with highly successful professionals.  While an email is fine, in some special cases where you’d like to leave a more lasting impression, a hand-written note can serve that purpose.

We wish you the best of luck on any upcoming interviews! If you still have a question, check out our hints and tips page or contact your recruiter.