Citigroup Application Process and Interview Questions
Citi, also known as Citigroup, is the third-largest bank in the United States, employing over 200,000 people.
It is one of the world’s largest investment banks, collectively known as the ‘bulge bracket’, and offers financial services including investment, wealth management and premium banking services.
Citi offers various graduate programmes, as well as internships and placements.
Internships usually run for 12 weeks over the summer; placements last for between 6 and 12 months, and are arranged by certain universities.
There is also a week-long ‘1st year programme’, which offers new students insights into what it would be like to work in the finance industry.
For its graduate programmes, Citi offers roles at various levels, including:
- Full-Time Analyst
- Academy Analyst
- Management Associate
Graduate roles cover different areas of the business, including investment banking, technology, operations, corporate banking and global consumer banking.
When you apply for a graduate programme with Citi, you will choose which business area you are interested in. The graduate scheme includes rotations, so you’ll get experience in other areas of the business as part of your training.
The Citi graduate programmes begin in the summer, where you’ll have several weeks of in-depth training in your chosen area.
You’ll then move into a rotation of different areas of the business, with the whole graduate scheme taking between 18 and 24 months to complete.
For the Full-Time Analyst programme, Citigroup is looking for motivated, intelligent and ambitious individuals with excellent communication skills. The graduate scheme offers mentoring, in-depth training and plenty of opportunities to work with clients and senior management.
Candidates for the Academy Analyst programme should possess the same attributes as ‘Full-Time Analysts’. You’ll be focused on the technology, operations or legal areas of the business, and receive ‘best-in-class’ business and operations training.
Citi’s Management Associate programme looks for graduates with the same motivation and drive. As part of this graduate scheme, you’ll get a customised management training programme – which includes mentoring from business leaders and rotations across the whole organisation.
In general, Citi is looking for graduates who are on track to receive, or have gained, a 2:1 in their undergraduate degree.
If the particular scheme is very competitive, you may be required to have a higher final grade or master’s degree.
Due to the nature of Citigroup’s work and the banking industry generally, the company looks for people who are:
- Adaptable and able to work in a fast-paced environment;
- Excellent communicators with good teamwork skills;
- Able to plan, organise and multi-task effectively;
- Focused on solving problems.
As well as these skills, Citi is looking for graduates with specific personality attributes, such as:
- Intellectually curious and eager to learn;
- Committed to personal and professional growth;
- Dedicated to ethical behaviours and decision-making.
Because the organisation operates in around 160 countries, Citi says it’s a plus if you have an interest in the global and local business landscape you’ll be working in.
The company is also keen on graduates with knowledge and fluency in a second language.
The Citi application process for its graduate schemes has four stages:
You may also be asked to upload a copy of your latest university transcript.
The cover letter is a great way for you to showcase your motivation for applying to the graduate scheme at Citigroup.
Use this as an opportunity to talk about your personal ambitions, why you’d like to work in the specific business area for which you are applying, and why you’re interested in working for Citi.
Showing that you’ve researched the company and understand what they do can help your cover letter to stand out.
In your cover letter, try to include references to skills you have which are relevant to the role. Some of the key attributes and skills Citi employees say a graduate needs for the programme are:
- A passion for the role and industry
- The ability to work in a team
- Soft skills, such as good judgement
Highlighting these skills in your cover letter – and CV – can help your application stand out, and show Citi you understand what’s required for the role.
A good CV should be clear, concise and include facts about your career history and experience.
Include your professional experience, achievements, academic qualifications, voluntary work and interests.
A final section at the end of your CV titled ‘Additional Skills’, is a good way to include information about your technical and language skills.
Recruiters at Citigroup recommend that your CV shouldn’t be more than two A4 pages long, so try to keep it concise and make every word count.
If you’re successful and pass the application form stage of the application process, you’ll be asked to complete an online test.
There may be a significant length of time between submitting your application and receiving an invitation to take the test – some candidates say it can take up to a month.
Both the numerical reasoning and logical reasoning tests are Talent Q Elements tests. Former graduate applicants have said these are particularly challenging, due to the time limits and the type of questions you are required to answer.
For the numerical reasoning test, you may be presented with information in lots of different formats, such as tables, figures and diagrams.
Candidates report there are lots of answers to choose from – and lots of ‘small print’ in the questions, which can make selecting the right answer from the multiple choice a little harder.
The logical reasoning test may be quite different to other ones you’ve taken. It’s based on patterns and logic sequences within a complex image, where you may be asked to find multiple patterns and progressions (rather than only one).
For both types of test, former graduate scheme applicants have pointed out that the time limits for completing the tests can cause stress, as they are particularly demanding.
It’s also mentioned that the practice questions provided on the tests may not be representative of the difficulty of the test itself.
Because the online numerical reasoning and logical reasoning tests for Citi are unique, we recommend spending plenty of time practising these types of aptitude tests before you begin the application. This includes completing them within set time limits.
Something important to note is that you will be asked to re-take this online test if you reach the assessment centre stage of the application process. This is to confirm that it was you who took the test originally and not someone else.
Therefore, practising them and answering them honestly is crucial.
If you’re successful in the online test, you’ll move onto the next stage in the Citi graduate scheme application process.
The purpose of this interview is to help Citi recruiters understand whether your personality, skills and attributes are compatible with what the organisation wants in its graduate scheme candidates.
As well as talking about yourself, your ambitions and your values, you will be asked about Citigroup and the industry in which it operates.
Make sure to do your research before the interview, so you can showcase your knowledge and talk confidently about the organisation and the banking industry.
Some example telephone interview questions you may be asked are:
- Why do you want to work for Citi?
- Why do you want to work in your chosen area?
- Tell me about your employment history.
- Talk me through your CV.
- What are some of the current issues facing financial service providers?
- How does investment banking work?
- Can you give me an example of a time when you had to make a quick decision?
You are also likely to be asked essential competency questions related to your ability to work with data and your digital skills.
The final stage of the Citi graduate scheme application process is a day at an assessment centre.
This part of the Citibank recruitment process helps Citi understand how well you work in a team. It also tests you on specific skills and tasks you’re likely to encounter on the graduate programme.
At the assessment centre you’ll take part in individual interviews, group activities and online tests.
The following is an example of the order in which you might undertake each of the different activities, though you may take them in a different order, depending on the assessment centre and number of candidates.
You’ll be asked to retake the online test you did in the second stage of the application process. This is to confirm that you did take the first test – rather than someone else taking it for you – and that you can perform effectively under different circumstances.
For this reason, we recommend practising numerical reasoning and logical reasoning tests even when you have passed the second stage of the application process. That way, you'll feel more confident and calm when asked to take the test at the assessment centre.
The group activity will test your ability to communicate, listen to others, put forward ideas and come to unanimous conclusions, as well as your time management skills.
You will be given a case study to read independently, followed by questions about the case study.
These questions will replicate situations you may face during your graduate scheme with Citi, such as deciding on investment options for an organisation or how the company should allocate funds.
As a group of between five and six people, you will then be asked to discuss the case study and your answers, then come to a joint conclusion about which is the best option to take.
During the assessment centre group activity, the Citigroup assessors will be observing you to see how well you can:
- Communicate with others;
- Share opinions confidently and with good reasoning;
- Make decisions;
- Manage time effectively.
The assessment centre also includes a series of individual interviews with different members of the Citi team, including people from the business area to which you are applying.
These interviews will be about 30 minutes each and you’ll have three of them.
It is likely that one of the job interviews will focus on your CV: the work experience you’ve had, the skills you’ve obtained and your interests.
You might be asked to talk through your CV or expand upon one or two of the roles you’ve held. It’s important that, before you attend the assessment centre, you read through the CV and cover letter you originally submitted – so you know them inside out and can confidently answer any questions about them.
The other two interviews are likely to be competency-based, where you will be asked to provide examples from your education and experience that demonstrate you have the skills and attributes Citi is looking for. This will be like the telephone interview you had earlier on in the application process.
A useful interview tip is to try and think of several examples from your experience that you can use to demonstrate your competencies. That way you waon't have to repeat the same answers that you used in the telephone interviews.
Some of the questions in the one-to-one interview might include:
- Tell me about a time when you demonstrated good leadership skills.
- Give me an example of when you had to work successfully in a team.
- Can you tell me about a situation in your life where you needed to work under pressure?
- Have you ever disagreed with a colleague about a course of action? How did you manage that situation?
It’s also likely you’ll be asked about current financial topics, including Citi as an organisation.
Take time to research the company before attending the assessment centre, and keep up-to-date with the latest financial news, so that you can confidently answer any questions on these subjects.
You may be asked questions like:
- What’s the biggest challenge in banking at the moment?
- How do you think the political situation in the UK is going to affect our industry in the next couple of years?
- What’s the biggest global trend impacting financial services right now?
- What’s your opinion on the European debt crisis? [or another current topic]
- What was our stock price this morning?
- If you were the CEO of Citi, what would be the first thing you would change about our business?
Finally, you will be asked to complete an individual task. This is normally reading a case study or report, then creating a short presentation on your findings.
There will also be several situational judgement questions that you will have to answer. You might be asked to make recommendations about where the client in the case study should invest, or which stock options it should retain or let go, based on the information in the document.
You will then be given time to prepare a short presentation of your recommendations, which you will present to a member of the Citi team.
The presentation is done one-to-one; your assessor is likely to ask you follow-up questions to help them better understand your thought process.
While this activity can feel daunting, the Citigroup assessors are more interested in the way you work and think through problems than whether your recommendation is exactly the same as theirs would be.
Try to structure your presentation in a clear and logical way so it’s easy for the assessor to follow your thought process, and make sure to explain your reasoning for each recommendation.
As with other graduate schemes for well-respected investment banks, the Citi graduate programme is very competitive.
Be sure to follow these tips:
Read through your CV and cover letter so you know it inside-out.
Spend time researching the company, fully understanding what the programme entails. Showing how you can contribute to the success of the company will give you an advantage during the selection procedure.
The application process for Citi’s graduate scheme comprises an online application, online test, telephone interview and assessment centre. Make sure to practise each of these stages in advance.
Each graduate scheme has varying opening and closing dates. Keep an eye on the Citi website so you can apply as soon as you’re able to.
If you are unsuccessful at any stage in the process you will have to wait for a year before applying again. Unfortunately, Citi is unable to offer feedback unless you get through to the final stage, due to the volume of applicants.
If you successfully complete all the stages, you can expect to receive an offer for the Citi graduate scheme between a week and a month after the assessment centre.
Citigroup advises that during busy periods and depending on the role for which you are applying, response times can vary quite a lot.