RBS Business Services Leadership Programme (BSL) 2013


Hi everyone,

I just found out I got accepted on the BSL 2013 graduate programme and I thought I’d share some tips:

Application: make sure you use the key skills in all of your answers, such as “creative” “open-minded” “flexible” “leadership” etc.

Telephone interview: I did an enormous amount of preparation for this. You don’t need to do as much as I did, but I hate being underprepared so I researched a lot about the company. I found really useful facts such as RBS being rated Top 10 in Equality in the Workplace, Race for Opportunity and Top 50 in where women want to work. Also, one of RBS’ key priorities is to attend to customers’ needs. This was shown by them and Natwest (who merged with RBS in 1999) recently stopping the issue of paper statements because customers no longer wanted them. I found this article on the BBC. Using these kind of things show you have done your research and can aid in the telephone interview and the Assessment Centre!

So the questions in the telephone interview were: Why do you want to work for RBS? Why the BSL programme? Where does this programme fit with your career path? What challenges do RBS currently face? Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?
Then I was told to wait on hold while they assess my answers to see if we can move onto the competency questions.
These were relatively simple: Where have I helped someone achieve something they didn’t think was possible? What situation have I not felt comfortable with the morals that others had?
Overall the interview was just under an hour, and the person on the phone was really nice. All I can say is do lots of research on RBS, as most of the interview was based on my knowledge of the company and the programme…with only 20 minutes or so for the competency based questions.

Assessment centre: I was one of 12 and we were split up in 2 groups. This year was different to all other years as it had a new layout and new tasks: Group Task, Individual Meeting, Presentation, Mentoring.

Group meeting: You are presented with about a 6-8 page booklet which you have time to read through and make notes. You then have to discuss it with the group. The key things to do here is to not worry about the amount of information they’ have given. Pick out key points and write them down, ready to raise them in the discussion. Don’t be afraid to use statistics, they love to hear you use them. Make sure you give everyone an equal opportunity to speak. If you see someone who wants to say something, ask them to say their point.

Individual Interview: This lasts 40 minutes and the first part is, again, why you want to work for RBS? What are it’s challenges? Where do your skills fit in with this role? What may you find a challenge when working here? Then there are scenario situations (what you would do if…) and finally a few last competency based questions. I tried to make the atmosphere as relaxed as possible and it really helped both of us to have a natural conversation as opposed to a rigid interview.

Presentation: You have about 30 minutes to prepare your presentation based on the group task. You then present it on your own to an employee, followed by questions at the end. I don’t think they actually assess you on your content, but rather your presentation skills. That being eye contact, gestures, how well you can justify your point etc. They want you to make a point and stick to it. Be able to justify it. They probably don’t actually care what you say. The questions at the end are to see how well you react to surprise questions under time pressure. Again, what you say isn’t that important, it’s your ability to justify your point. ALWAYS KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR WATCH IN ALL TASKS - TIME IS SO KEY.

Finally the mentoring meeting: I found this quite strange, but nevertheless, we had to play 2 roles. One as the demotivated employee, and one as the manager trying to motivate the demotivated employee. Here you had to use the GROW model. If you make it to the assessment centre they’ll send you all those details on how to approach that model.

I hope this has given you all a good insight into what the process will be like! Good luck to everyone. Just remember to be yourself!


Thank you very much for sharing. Do u still remember the follow-up questions for competency in tele interview?


Do you mean do I remember the competency questions they asked me on the telephone interview? I think one was tell me about a time you helped someone achieve something and the second one was tell me a time when you were ins situation which you didn’t feel comfortable and how you acted


Hey 8776

I’ve also been accepted onto the scheme - I found out last week too :slight_smile:

Were you at the assessment centre last Thursday?


Yeah I was! What’s your name? I’m Hannah :slight_smile:


Hey Hannah!! Well done!

Its James W


Hi Everyone,

Many thanks for the info here. It was really helpful. However, I recently had my tele interview and I was asked this question

On a scale of 1 - 10…1 being always standing up for what you believe and 10 being doing something you didn’t want to because you were told to where would you place yourself. Justify this by telling about a time you had to use your integrity.

I gave myself a 3 and gave a situation but the interviewer didnt seem impressed and didnt ask me more questions. I think I misunderstood the question. I thought the question meant on one end I do what i believe in and on the other end I just do what other people tell me to do…is that it? I am not sure if my example was clearly from the integrity point of view.

I have not received their e-mail if I have passed or not but would want to know what the question meant coz den irrespective of them emailing me or not I would know that I have failed coz i messed up and move on. If anyone could shed some light it would be great



Hi Shaha,

I wouldn’t worry too much at all - I also gave myself a 3 and passed


Thanks Wayj123. Whilst the points you give yourself are certainly important I am not sure I understood the question right loll. I understood the question as ‘on one end I only do what i believe in and on the other end I just do what other people tell me to do’ but dunno if that was the right understanding as the interviewer was like ‘okay okay i get u loll’…to hav come so far n mess up !


Hi shaha,

Yes you understood it correctly. I chose 4 (which I thought was wrong at the time) but the question just wanted to see how you react in situations where you feel your morals are challenged and how you dealt with it. For example I said I was faced with friends who made off without payment after a meal which I found unethical so I ended up paying for the whole bill. The question just wanted to see what you do in a situation where you stick up for what you believe in. The interviewers ask you more probing questions just to guide you, it doesn’t mean what you’re saying is wrong. You’ll find out soon so I wouldn’t worry too much.


Hi 8776,

Many thanks for the info. I am quite relieved! Hope I get a positive reply. How long after you passed your tele interview did you get you AC invitation? You accepted your offer ?


Hello! peeps,

Wish you all a merry Christmas. Many thanks hannah, wayj123, shaha for sharing your experience with fellow grads. I have a tele interview with rbs for the internal audit program and need help with the question ‘What factors are currently affecting RBS ? What are the challenges facing RBS?’.

I am struggling to frame an answer. I know the challenges and factors are both economic and regulatory in nature but I dont know how many challenges should I talk about and how much detail should I give the interviewer. The challenges I can think about are the changes in company act, bribery act, the BASEL III, building consumer confidence, reducing debt further. Besides this should I talk from a global perspective, UK perspective or from the internal audit perspective. This is quite a broad question and it would be great if someone can provide any feedback on the matter.

Also should I set a time limit on the answer I give like say each answer that I give should be limited to a minute or 2 only or I can go on and say whatever I feel satisfied with? Does the interviewer take notes when you are answering ?

Many thanks again…its my first tele interview so am a bit nervous !


Hey Johngrad13,

Merry Xmas to you too.

RBS are very keen on making sure you have good levels of commericial knowledge and you are aware of the activities RBS is undertaking to rebuild itself as a successful, safe and competitive bank.

I’d say, in the case of RBS, that you are 100% correct in saying there are economic and regulatory pressures on the bank. They shouldn’t ask you for too many examples but you seem to have more than enough anyway. Basel III is a always a good one, it may be worth discussing issues such as Anti-Money Laundering (HSBC/Standard Chartered have recently been fined billions for not having strong enough internal processes in place).

Overall I would say pick one or two and really learn about how they will impact the activities of the bank…Be detailed yet succinct - all they are looking for is your ability to demonstrate commercial awareness - they won’t be testing your knowledge on current affairs and/or economics so really dont go overboard with the details.

The interviewers will be taking notes but you won’t be aware of this as they are generally quite good at disguising this.

Telephone interviews can be extremely daunting - they may focus more in your reasons behind applying for RBS and your competencies so don’t get bogged down in commercial awareness stuff. Remember to print some notes and have them infont of you when you are on the phone. Smile when you talk (apparantely it comes across better!)

best of luck


Hi 8776, Thx for your reply. I passed tele interview, and have been invited to AC.

I just wonder, does everyone in the AC apply for the same program or different ones? for the group discussion, does everyone have the same booklet? since I noticed some group discussions need team members to present some information for the rest of the team. And for the presentation, will they give you more information, or it is just totally based on the group discussion? do you still keep the booklet that used in the group discussion, or you need to write details when you have the discussion? Do you need to do a lot of calculations? Do u think is there any knowledge I need to prepare before? like SWOT, M&A or other basic case analysis skills?

Sorry for so many questions. I am a little bit nervous. Thank you. Merry Christmas!


Glad to hear you’re through to the assessment centre, well done!
You can’t prepare at all for the group task in terms of content. Yes, everyone has the same booklet and the group discussion is entirely based on the booklet. You need to read the booklet and write down key points as you go along. For BSLP, it is highly unlikely that there will be calculations. We didn’t have any, but obviously I cannot guarantee you will not. Just show your commercial awareness when you bring up points, as this is really key.
Speak, but don’t speak too much. Getting the balance is essential for the group task. Good luck!


And to reply to your first question; if you have applied for BSL, you will only be with BSL applicants at the AC.



Wayj123, Many many thanks for your valuable tips and input. I will initially talk about few challenges briefly and then expand on one or two as you’ve advised.

8776, many thanks again for your input on the AC experience. Your feedback and tips will definitely aid me and fellow grads in their application.

Natalie88, can you kindly share your interview experience? What motivational and competency questions were you asked?



Hi Johngrad13, I actually applied for internal audit. My tele interview questions are really similar as 8776’s. All typical motivation questions. The only difference was the second competency question, he asked me about a time raise a concern on a rule or process. The interviewer was so kind, and tried to help me on the right track. So do not worry so much. I think you will be fine.


Hi Natalie88, Many Many thanks for your message and your support. I will do my best to make it to the AC. I wish you all the best for your AC. Hope you get the job and share your experience with us in the future ! :slight_smile:


Hi everyone :slight_smile: I ve given a telephone interview with the BSL as well… I was asked questions similar to you all. Any idea in how much time would they let us know about whether we ve made it to the assessment centre?