If you’re going onto – or considering doing – postgraduate study in History, take a moment to read about the experience of a recent PhD student.
In this post Laura Blackledge, Student Recruitment Officer at PwC, for the University of York, shares invaluable insight into how to succeed in assessment centres. Don’t forget that Careers will be running an Interview and Assessment Centre experience event on 7 Feb, which PwC will be attending. Book your placement using the above link.
Why do employers use assessment centres?
Employers use various tools during the recruitment process for a number of diCheck out our latest guest blogfferent reasons:
- Measure your abilities
- Understand your experiences and skills
- Establish your preferred working styles
- Identify your behavioural responses
- Provide a job preview for yourself
We know the role and the needs of the roles we are recruiting for.
Our business’ sustainability depends on filling our roles with the most suitable and talented people.
We need to find the right fit – that is what’s best for us and the people we hire – so they can enjoy sustainable and fulfilling careers.
Bank of England Blog: Part Two by Erica Rowell
The Bank of England, which was founded in 1694, is responsible for monetary policy and stability, producing bank notes and the Prudential Regulation Authority which means they hold a different ethos to other financial organisations. They have a culture of collaboration, and support employees to develop professionally and personally throughout their careers with the Bank.
Their interns and employees are assessed with the ‘Vision 2020’ model, which is made up of four assessment criteria: diverse and talented, analytic excellence, outstanding execution and open and accountable. Included alongside these is their mission statement: “Promoting the good of the people of the United Kingdom by maintaining monetary and financial stability”.
The application process is the same for both their internships and graduate schemes. This means that someone who is successful in gaining an internship does not have to repeat the application process again when applying for graduate entry.
The Application Process
- On-line application form – it is vitally important to research and understand the Bank, what their functions are, and spend some time thinking about what is attractive about the work.
- Online Test (Blended) – successful candidates will be invited to complete an online test which will assess a range of skills and is a mixture of situational judgement, motivation, numerical/verbal reasoning and analytical skills. It is important to do some practice in advance. The testing provider will provide some practice questions so don’t skip these! Make sure the test is carried out in a quiet space, with no disturbance, because it is important to be able to focus on the test. For example, if you share accommodation with other people it may be worth warning them that you need some quiet time to yourself to be able to complete the test without disruption. It’s important that your only focus during the test is doing your best, and not worrying about background noise etc.
- Video Interview – successful candidates will progress to the video interview. This tests a mixture of technical/commercial awareness and competency. Prepare by reading financial and business news and current affairs particularly if the Bank is mentioned. There is no one recording the interview – it is done through a programme where you are shown between four and five questions, given a short time (one minute) to prepare, and then are recorded (2 – 3 minutes) delivering your answers. There are some simple practice questions at the beginning e.g. favourite film. Don’t skip these as it gives you a chance to check that everything is working, to experience seeing yourself on the screen and check you are looking directly at the camera. Prepare for the questions in the same way as face-to-face interviews. A structured approach is best and the Bank advocates the STAR method. Consider the questions that might be asked: the Bank want to know if you understand what they do, the climate in which they operate, your reasons for applying to the programme and your compatibility with the Bank’s values. As with the online test – make sure you’ve got some peace and quiet to complete this! Keep an eye on timing to ensure your answers are succinct but full, and ensure that there is nothing distracting in the background of the video – a plain background is best.
- Assessment Centre – finally, you will complete an assessment centre which involves 2 group exercises (which will be a mix of soft skills and technical questions). The exercise will be a factual case study e.g. why you should be running a paperless office, and will be carried out in groups of 6. You will be assessed on working as a team as well as the recommendations that you make at the end of the exercise. The assessors are not interested in the dominant characters in the group but in those who can collaborate and encourage the team to be structured and keep to time. The time allowance is usually 20 minutes with a 3 minute presentation. Do check, as part of the exercise, who the presentation is to – the CEO or a client of the company. The Bank will be looking to see how you interact with others, and how you deal with time pressured situations to deliver an outcome. Spend some time thinking about the values they might be looking for, in accordance with the values and mission of the Bank, and have a think about how you can demonstrate and evidence these.
- Final Interview – this will be carried out by HR and a member of staff from the section of the Bank you have applied to e.g. operations, risk assessment, technology. The questions will be a mixture of checking out soft skills e.g. communication, and technical questions. To answer these questions you need to have a good overview of the stream you have applied for as well as the Bank itself.
Remember! You can book a Careers Advice appointment with us through the Careers Gateway.
And for more information on career opportunities at the Bank of England, visit their website here.
What they can offer students
On the 8th November this year, The Bank of England came onto campus to deliver a talk on their company culture and recruitment tips. Our Careers Consultant, Erica Rowell, went along to the talk and compiled some of the information that was given into a two-part blog for those who couldn’t attend this insightful event. Below, in Part One of her blog, Erica talks about the different kind of employment opportunities they can offer students.
The Bank of England offers a number of internships and graduate programmes. Here are some of those programmes:
- First year internship (6 weeks duration)
- Penultimate year internship (8 weeks)
- Postgraduate internship (8 weeks)
- Industrial placement (13 months)
All of the students on these internships are inducted together as a cohort and treated as part of the team they are allocated to. There are no special projects and interns are expected to ‘hit the ground running’ and work alongside staff. They do have support systems in place including a mentor and line manager; however there is no financial or other support from the Bank for accommodation while on an internship.
The first and penultimate year internships are suitable for students with a degree in any discipline. The Postgraduate internship is for students with a degree (1st class or 2:1) in Economics and/or Finance.
For the first year internship the Bank will look at UCAS points gained. For the penultimate year the Bank will want an update of grades achieved so far. There is a free text box if you need to explain why current grades do not match the predicted class of your degree.
The Industrial Placement offers opportunities as:
- Research Assistant – will gain first-hand experience in the Bank’s core work. Working alongside economists on a wide range of issues, and gain experience of briefings and produce charts and tables for Monetary Policy and Financial Policy Committee. Will also manipulate economic and financial data for research projects.
- Project Assistant – are based in either Banking Services or the Programme Office and can work in a variety of roles, including assisting with project processes, supporting testing, trialling and implementation, as well as senior team members.
- IT Associate – will be part of the Technology Division, working in the Application, Development and Maintenance area or the Infrastructure Group. Experience will include contribution to the success of challenging projects and valuable hands-on experience from technical experts.
Operations – generalist scheme, and is open to Graduates from any degree discipline. This stream opens up opportunities in many areas across the Bank, including Banking, Notes and Central Services.
Economist – need to be studying an Economics or Finance undergraduate degree. This stream will develop your skills at the heart of the UK economy.
Risk – this stream develops Graduates to provide technical expertise in areas such as stress testing, the Help to Buy scheme, or wider market risks. They work within areas such as Supervisory Risk Specialists. Strong analytical skills are key for this stream.
Data – these roles are vital for collecting, compiling and analysing data for publication. The Bank looks for students studying a quantitative degree, such as Maths or Engineering. These roles are in areas such as Advanced Analytics, Statistics and Regulatory Data and the Chief Data Office.
Technology – the Technology division enables everything at the Bank, including supporting systems like the Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), enabling the UK financial services sector to transfer trillions of pounds in payment transactions every year. You don’t have to be studying a Computer Science degree –they are also looking for students with an interest in Technology. Based on your interests and skillset, you will be matched to a pathway, such as: Developer, Infrastructure, Service Management or IT Security.
Supervision – open to Graduates from any degree discipline, you’ll be at the heart of the Bank’s work to protect the stability of the UK’s financial system by supervising financial institutions. You could be supervising insurance companies, international banks, building societies, key financial infrastructure or UK banks of all sizes. Supervision puts your analytical, problem solving and professional skills into practice; you will work closely with senior internal and external stakeholders to identify and mitigate potential risks before they can have an adverse effect on the financial system and the public.
Postgraduate – if you are studying for a Masters degree in an Economics or Finance discipline and are looking for a Graduate position, this is the stream for you. These roles are in research-focussed areas such as Monetary Analysis, International or Markets.
Actuarial – qualify as a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (Enjoy a salary increase each time you pass an exam!)
All entrants take the Central Banking Qualification, and then study towards a postgraduate certificate in central banking and financial regulation – accredited by Warwick University. It is a 27 month programme and cohorts of entrants are grouped together for the whole of the programme for study days. These take place in the Shard, London.
There are approximately 150 internship/graduate programme places and over 1000 applicants. There are fewer applications for the economic stream. Also, if you apply for this stream and are not successful the Bank may recommend you joining an alternative application stream.
Applications for the graduate stream closed on 13th November 2017, however the internships are open until mid-January 2018.
On Christmas Day, after the turkey has been eaten, the presents have been ripped open and you’re recovering from too much pud, you can slouch into the sofa and breathe a sigh of contentment.
However, the Christmas vacation isn’t all about groaning at Christmas cracker jokes and watching festive celebrity editions of Pointless. It will probably bring you some slightly less seasonal activities too – you might have course work to complete or revision to begin. You may also have to fend off those tricky questions from parents, aunts and uncles. You know the ones – “what are you going to do after you finish at University?”, “have you started applying for jobs?”
Make time this vacation (before Christmas takes over) to take some positive steps, so you can answer those questions with confidence!
Unsure what career is for you?
Start to Get ideas from the web page of the same name! Our Career planning info sheet has lots of exercises and resources to help – you don’t need to look at them all, but there should be something useful for you to try.
Guest blog written by Bridgewater Graduates
Those first few years at the University of York do fly by and before you know it, the all-important final year arrives. Your final year is a tough one filled with harder assignments, dissertations and exams that could have a big impact on your future. On top of all this, you’re probably worrying about what you are going to do next year!
Take a deep breath because final year doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems. To really make the most of it, you should:
You know that this is an important year and if you want to end it with a fantastic degree classification, you’ll have to step it up and stay focused. Final year is more about individual studying and research. You can’t rely on just your lecture notes carrying you through.
The key is to get organised (which is easier said than done for some of us). Say goodbye to the all-nighters and make a plan that gives you plenty of time to hand in your assignments. If you’re organised, you’ll really be able to perform at your best.
Remember, at the end of the year you’ll want an impressive degree grade to show off to potential employers.
There’s more to university than studying. The partying doesn’t have to stop in your final year and getting/staying involved in social events, sports clubs (bring on Roses!) and activities is important. Not only are these things fun for you, but employers like to hear about your hobbies and interests on your CV.
Find the balance
Your final year is the perfect time to start practising your work-life balance. Too much partying will have a negative impact on your grades, too much time shut up in the library will leave feeling bored and miserable.
By organising your days and increasing your productivity, you’ll be able to get out and enjoy your evenings.
Tackle the big decisions
There’s no point burying your head in the sand, your time at uni is coming to an end. The big question that every final year has to face is, what’s next?
If you haven’t made a decision yet, it’s time to think about your career options. If you’re struggling to decide what direction you would like to go career-wise or need help getting started, visit your university careers department and have a chat with an advisor. You can also try taking a personality test to see what types of careers suit you.
Find out what employers want
Your degree means that you can apply for graduate jobs, but employers want to see so much more than that. What you’ll need to demonstrate are the transferable skills you’ve developed during your time at university, like the ones on this soft skills list.
To get a better idea of what skills employers are looking for, start browsing some relevant job adverts early. If there are any desirable skills that you need to work on you’ll have time to do it in your final year.
Gain work experience
Your work experience will help you to stand out from the crowd when it’s time to apply for graduate roles. Make an effort to get some relevant work experience now, and you’ll reap the benefits later.
This article was written by Bridgewater Graduates who offer sales, management and a variety of other commercial graduate jobs with market-leading businesses across the UK and Ireland.
We’ve had a busy few weeks in Careers and Placements running our careers fairs, and responding to a wide variety of questions.
One thing has stood out – some of you are feeling slightly panicked at the thought of grad scheme applications, and worried about missing out on the opportunities on offer right now or being left behind in the task of securing a graduate position.
If you are interested in a graduate scheme, a placement or internship with one of the major recruiters, now is the time to be doing your research and making applications. The recruitment process for many large organisations has started, and the earlier you apply the better, for what is often a long recruitment process that runs right through into Spring before job offers are made. We have lots of help and support available check our website or come and have a talk to find out how we can help.