I applied for a job at Barclays bank about 5 years ago, it was my first full time job after taking a gap year to do various courses and to be honest I didn't really think that I would actually get the job but at the time was applying for anything that paid decent money and that I thought I could do. I was very surprised to find a few days later that I had been offered an interview.
The Interview Process
I initially applied for the job by phoning the telephone number on the job centre website where I was invited to take part in a phone interview, this was literally a few mathematical questions you had to answer to asses your ability and they asked you a few questions about yourself. As I passed the phone interview (which really is easy) I was invited to a second interview. During this interview I met the manager of the bank you went through my CV and asked all the typical questions you get asked at an interview. The manager was very nice and made you feel at ease, it was more like a chat than a formal question and answer session. During the interview with the manager I was asked to come back for a third interview!!!! This interview was with the regional manager and was basically a maths test to check your basic mathematical skills, providing you passed with a high enough percentage and the manager liked you, you had pretty much got the job. Luckerly I passed the test although I was a little dubious whether I would but again the sums were simple adding and subtracting. So after passing my third interview I received a letter inviting me for a 4th interview, yes a fourth!!!! and all for one job!!!! This like the second was with the manager, during this interview I was given more detail about what the job would entail and what would be expected of me, I was then shown around the branch and ultimately offered the job, which I accepted.
So 4 interviews later I had finally got myself my first full time job!!!! I was not just expected to get on a till and start serving customers, I still had a weeks long training course to attend!!!
The Training Course
Now when you think of courses you think of discussions with flip charts note taking and so on. Well I was totally wrong with that, yes there was a little bit of note taking ect but they majority of could only be describe as games!!! We built things, invented things, really everything but discuss what our new job would involve. Apparently it was all about team building which is fair enough but all of he people apart from one other girl were working at different branches I was never going to see them again. Anyway after a week of playing I apparently was ready to start.
I was a little worried that I would be sat on my till and expected to serve the customers however I had nothing to worry about, yes I did have to serve the customers but was given a mentor who sat with me and helped me get through the first few days, that was until they were short staffed and I was all of a sudden full trained and ready to be abandoned!!!! Everyone was very friendly and really helpful, a lot of the other cahsiers were my age so we got on really well. In between training we also had to complete various tests and tasks on a computer, this was all so that we could be classed as accredited and receive a pay rise!!!
To be honest the actual serving of the customers is pretty easy to do, everything is done on a computer, a record of everything you do is recorded so that if any mistakes are made they can be picked up relatively easily. Many people think that working in a bank is a case of sitting on your till behind you piece of glass and take the customers money or give the customer money, this is not the case. Whist that is the basis of the job it is a lot more involved such as booking appointments advising customers, ordering money ect, this for me was the down side of the bank.
The starting wage at the bank was pretty good from what I can remember, I cant remember the exact amount I got each month but it was over £600, bearing in mind it was my first proper job and I was still training. This went up after I had been accredited to over £900 a month plus bonuses once or twice a year. Everyone was rated on a scale of A B C or D and the amount of bonus you got depended on you rating. Each bonus apart from level D was worth several hundred pounds, so definalty worth having. However unfortunately this all changed as they bank became increasingly strict as I explain below.
The Bad Bits of The Banking Life
When I first started working at the bank I really enjoyed it, most of the customers were really nice, the same people come in each week so you do get to know them and could have a chat. However after I had been there a little while they started to get more and more strict with regards to sale. Now when you are offered a job at Barclays you are told that sales is part of your job description, which was fine with me, the targets were not too high and if you didn't quite achieve your target it didn't matter too much. However this gradually began to change. The targets became even higher, which is fine if you get customers come in wanting new products such as accounts, loans ect but at the end of the day you can not make someone take out a new product they do not want. The yearly bonuses also disappeared and depended on how many sales you got, an incentive they called it but I don't call getting paid a few pounds an incentive for working as hard as you can!!!! The bonuses were no where near what they use to, it was very disheartening for the cashiers, it didn't matter that you had worked hard, helped out stayed late ect if you didn't get enough sales you didn't get a bonus!!!! I was quite happy to offer a customer a product if I genuinely believed it would help them or make them better off but I was not prepared to push products onto customers that only came in to pay a few pounds into their account. This was the down fall of the bank for me. It also became worse when we were expected to say certain things to the customer like using a customers name, saying "is there anything else I can help you with" and so on, ok all polite but you do not speak to a 70 year old customer the same way you speak to a 19 year old customer, for me good customer service is treating a customer as an individual. I remember on one occasion I did not use a customers name and the manger who was sitting behind me (yes they actually sat behind you to make sure you were saying the right things) said why didn't you use that customers name, it was my uncle I mean seriously am I expect to call my uncle Mr? OK so I am ranting a bit now but in general the impossible sales targets and trying to force people to take out products and the treating everyone as robots preprogrammed to say certain things really did it for me at the bank. I felt like I was not providing a good service for the customers, the little old men and woman wanted to come in for a chat ect not to be spoken to formally!!!!!
To be honest if you are a sales driven person working in a bank probably would be a good job for you, I just didn't like being told how to talk to the customers and I didn't like the fact that we had to push products onto people. Every morning there would be a meeting to say what the product for the day was, it could be anything from mortgages, savings or various insurances but what ever it was we had to try and get as many people as possible to have that product regardless!!!! Not really my sort of thing!!!!
Jobs Within The Bank
If you can stand working in the bank then there are a lot of different jobs you can do for exampl
Saving and Investments Manager
So really there are a lot of different careers you can peruse within the Barclays you just have to be prepared to push products on to people to meet sales targets and speak to all customers in the same way. For me personally this is not good customer service, I now hate having to go in banks and want to laugh when they start trying to sell me something because I know exactly what they are trying to do!!!! Its not their fault they are just doing the job that I use to do.
I left the bank 2 and a half years ago to work for a flooring company in the office and accounts department, it is so much more relaxed, no sales targets or pressure and I am now earning more money than I ever did at the bank. Although I have to say that there were a couple of good things that come from working at Barclays I now have some experience of the financial side of things which always comes in handy in a lot of jobs and looks good on your CV, I made a lot of friends who I am still in contact with and I met my fiancée who also worked on the counter with me, so the bank wasn't all bad, if it had stayed as it was I probably would have reconsidered leaving, its just a shame they had to change!!!!
This is another opinion I will keep succinct and to the point. Barcap has an excellent recruitment program which works as follows: i) You take 4-5 aptitude tests. This will test your numerical and comprehension abilities plus also your syntax and personality. If you achieve scores in the top few % then you will be invited to: ii) submit your CV. This is the first time that Barcap get a good chance to look at your skill sets. To be honest, I think that once you've been asked to submit a CV then you are practically guaranteed a seat at the selection day. iii) The selection day is split into three parts. The first part of the day is spent undertaking programming tests. Dependent on your skill set you will have to take a C+, VB or pseudo language test. The second part of the day is spent either having two interviews (usually one general and other techinical - although in my case it was two generalist interviews) or having a tour around the trading floor and up to the top of the Canary Wharf tower. the third part is doing whatever you didn't do in stage 2! After all those activities have taken place you will get the chance to meet some senior managers who have some excellent knowledge. this is your opportunity to really find out more about the bank and whether a career in investment banking is for you. If you are lucky and are offered a position, Barcap will look after you very well. The renumeration is excellent for graduates (at the top end of the graduate market) and the training is second to none. The working environment isn't the constant high pressure some people imagine it to be, although that's not to say it can not get like that. Overall, the Barcap graduate recruitment process is very well handled and will select you on your ability more so than on your personality/old boy networks.
Unlike many other city employers, Barclays Capital do away with most of the BS that seems to be commonplace at other institutions: No longer do you have to wade through to stage 4 of the recruitment process, only to be told that you are unsuitable, because other candidates have more of the strengths they are looking for. BC (in 2000 and 2001) have a simple two-stage structure that minimizes the time wasted for graduates. The first round is a standard numeracy/logic test that takes less than 1 hour. If successful you'd go on to the final selection day, after which you will soon be told whether they want you or not. The selection day itself is still a bit loaded with their spiel about being a great company and all, but the maximum time you will spend is one day and an afternoon! Initial pay, with £550 - £650 pw, is great aswell.