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!