Most pple on this forum are nice people and want to help their fellow grads, however, some pple are just plain rude and think too much of themselves. They would do anything to try and get information from other people before their own assessment centers but once they land the job, start to think too much of themselves and offer very little useful advice and a lot of general advice which 99% of the time, pple already know. So ZB, I dont know when you have your assessment center but I can give you some useful advice on it. I attended one earlier this month (first week of Nov) and got the offer, however, am probably not taking it as I received better offers elsewhere. Anyways, the barcap operations assessment center isn’t much to fear really, its nothing compared to some other IB assessment centers which are extremely intense. There will be 3 activities, a competency interview, a case study presentation and a group discussion. The competency interview is pretty straight-forward but challenging, nothing out of the ordinary, make sure to prepare the usual competencies and PLEASE make sure to prepare at-least 3 examples of each competency(again, 3 examples per competency). Make sure to follow the STAR approach where you talk about the Situation, Task, Actions and the Result. Also make sure to have solid examples where you demonstrate what you did and what results you achieved. For teamwork, I will strongly advise you to prepare very solid examples, where you can defend your arguments and any follow up questions they may ask you. Moreover, be prepared with questions like, what would you do differently next time if you had to do that project again/lead the same group etc etc… Another one to prepare is a time when you failed a project/missed a deadline… have solid answers for this one and always mention what you learned from it…think hard and prepare solid examples, do not take the competency interview lightly. I cannot emphasize the importance of your examples. By all means use examples from your University life but make sure to thoroughly back up your arguments and always mention what you learned from it. Other than that, prepare the usual ones…communication, leadership, motivation, dealing with projects etc etc. I was mainly probed on teamwork and leadership and was asked 3 questions for each one and in a lot of detail. Those two alone took more than 25 minutes of the interview, other than those they mainly picked up things from my CV and asked me questions from it…like when I was a member of a society at University…at the very end asked me questions, why operations, what’s happening in financial industry, what do you think about the trends in IB??? u can talk about whats happening in the industry but make sure (very important) to give your own opinion as well on anything you talk about… don’t just say what you read in the news… be ready to offer your insight on it as well… its very very important… they want to know what you (not the government or FT times editors) think about a particular issue and why you think so??? like its everywhere that paying out huge cash bonuses has been the result of the financial meltdown so if you say that, be sure to offer your insight, why do YOU think it has resulted in the financial fiasco…yes yes the government says that paying out huge cash bonuses is a source of risk but what do YOU think about it??? got the point…
The case study presentation is pretty straight forward, its on floods. Basically, a bank located in London near River Thames has had its barrier torn down due to flood and the flood has affected the bank where the bank is not accessible for 48 hours. There are 2 banks, in HK and NY. The flood occurred at 10pm in London. You are given some brief notes on various departments in terms of volumes. What are the major things you need to take account of and what recommendations would you make? Again, pretty straight forward. Make sure to take account of the time difference in HK and NY. You can ask them to take over some of the important tasks such as trades and settlements so banking operations are not affected. You can ignore the non-critical function for 48 hrs, focus on the critical ones as they will have a major impact on the bank and talk along the lines etc etc. Make sure to cover all the major points (VERY IMPORTANT) and you can add other things to make it look better, for e.g. investing in a good contingency plan in the long run etc etc. A lot of things you can talk about, lots. But most important is to make sure to cover the main ones… that’s what they’re looking at.
Lastly, the group discussion. It has been changed recently. I know it used to be on a brief they would give you but now its even better and more interesting. They make you work on a laptop where you have to prioritize some emails you receive. You are given 10 minutes to do it, after which the system automatically shuts down. Its nothing to fear really, you have to pick 5 items from emails (i think there are 21 emails or so…can’t remember exactly) in terms of their importance and urgency. Emails are 2-3 short lines about different things, like, some trades or please call me urgently Singapore time (note the time difference if calling from London) etc etc. Basically in the first 10 minutes you have to pick 5 important tasks. Then you get together in a group in front of the assessors and are given 20 minutes to discuss your 5 priorities you picked in the first 10 minutes. During this time, you will be getting more emails on the laptop, so the priorities can change, so the group needs to take that into account. You may have to de-prioritize some tasks etc etc. After the 20 minutes, the assessors will give you about 2 minutes to discuss them within your group (assessors leave the room for 2-3 minutes) and come up with a brief presentation. After they return, the group will have to present and justify the 5 tasks they have mutually agreed. The presentation can be given any way the group likes, each person can talk about 1 task (works best) or 1 person can answer questions and others can present…that is left to the group to workout how to present, as long as its 5 tasks and the group can justify and stand behind their decisions, its not much of an issue…really
Voila…that’s it…nothing to fear about. Be confident, nice, cooperative, helpful and you’re good to go. One thing I can tell anyone going for the operations assessment, its all about personality and whether you would fit in the culture or not…trust me…70-80% is your personality. I am speaking with first hand experience and knowledge of the process. I know people from my assessment center as well as people from earlier ones, who absolutely nailed their interviews and presentations but still did not get offers. I can tell you with conviction, its mostly whether they like you or not and whether according to them you will gel in with other colleagues and staff at work. If they like you and you have done reasonably well in the activities, you can be pretty certain of receiving an offer. On the contrary, if you have absolutely aced your interview and given a very good presentation and participated in the group discussions but they don’t like you or they don’t think you will be as effective as some others or whatever the reason maybe, I can tell you 9 out of 10 times you won’t get an offer, no matter how good you are… they have to like you and your personality to get an offer… You have to impress them with your personality… and that is why I feel it doesn’t matter if you know the topic of the case study presentation in advance…because I know so many people who absolutely nailed their presentations but did not shine through enough in terms of their personality, hence did not get offers…Now don’t get me wrong, please don’t get me wrong because most people don’t listen to the whole story and start making their own impressions (silly people). You still have to cover the main points in the presentation, you can’t miss any of the main points because that would signal your inability to comprehend and understand the material and offer useful suggestions but you don’t have to be the absolute best in doing it. What matters more is your personality, as long as they like you as a person and your characteristics blend in with what they are looking for and you have done reasonably well in the activities, you are hired. If you have nailed every activity but are not the right type of person for them, you simply won’t make it…trust me on this one… and they will come up with reasons that will astound you…because there won’t be anything to mark you down on the activities itself…if and when you get feedback…you’ll be surprised where did they come up with that one from… it simply means they don’t like you…PERIOD so don’t fret about it because in terms of your ability you know you are better than others, possibly some who got offers. Other things constant, its all about personality my fellow grads, all about personality… If anyone needs any more useful information or advice, feel free to msg me… I’ll be more than willing to help anyone… Best of luck to all my fellow grads and I sincerely hope you all get offers whereever you apply to…we all deserve it after so much hard work… Cheers