I had recently an assessment centre (AC) with Barclays for the Finance Graduate Leadership Programme. The AC involved:
• Competency-based Interview (45min): The interviewer focused on 3 main topics/competencies: Hunger & Ambition, Personal Resilience & Flexibility and Organisational & Commercial Awareness. They made around 3-5 sub-questions on each topic.
• Problem Solving (60min): You are a branch manager in one of two retail banks in India. You are informed that because of bad weather conditions, the risk of flood is increasing rapidly in your branch area. You have to find solutions in order to protect the staff and customers from potential dangers and at the same time make sure that the business continues to work properly. They will give you all the information you need to support your ideas. This is a regular type of difficulty you can expect at most of ACs.
• Presentation (15min): Here you have to present your ideas (from the problem solving exercise) to your manager and explain why you would take that approach. He/she will give you some more information to check your immediate response, e.g. the manager will inform you that the insurance company will not cover the IT equipment which is very expensive. Hence, you have to find a solution to this problem.
• Ability Tests (55min):
o SHL Numerical Test (20min, 20 Questions): Slightly more difficult than the online version, but the main difference is that you have to use their calculator which has very basic functions.
o Fast Track exercise (35min, 6 card categories): In this exercise they will give you 6 card categories. In each category, you will have around 25 cards. The first 2 cards are explaining the problem, the other 20 cards have all the information you need to identify the trends, the relations within the cards of the same topic and the missing information for the last 3 cards.
• Group Exercise (5min reading, 3min individual presentation, 20min group discussion and 10min group presentation and summary): Barclays is planning to invest in a new market (country). Each candidate has a different country and all the relative information for country’s economic, political and general information in order to support or reject your country for the next Barclays investment. Initially, everybody has to present for 3min his/her country’s main advantages and threats. Then, you have to decide (as a team for 20 min) which countries should be rejected and which is your final decision for investment. At the end, you have to present a summary (10min, bullet points) of the main issues discussed in this task.
Overall, this AC is not difficult. However, make sure that you do the minimum expected in each task. Just to remind you that Barclays is a very conservative employer. From my experience in Barclays (I am currently working for a different position for Barclays), they seem to prefer white British employees for the “good” positions. They will offer jobs to foreigners around UK, but for regular roles, e.g. sales, counter staff, collections etc. I was really impressed that during my AC (8 hours) I did not see any Asian or African employee, except the one who brought the food at lunch time! Moreover, it is also interesting that most employees in leadership positions are men (in Canary Wharf).
If you are a foreigner and you wish to work for Barclays at Canary Wharf, then you have to prepare very hard and give your max. In my opinion, it doesn’t worth it!
All the best!