Bob Diamond has already re-applied for his old job at Barclays plc. Shortly after pre-screening, he was granted a first-round interview with HR. Our sources were fortunate enough to be given exclusive access to his interview transcript.
HR: Hi Bob, it’s Laura from Barclays calling. Is now a good time?
BD: …Erm, timing could be better, but gee, I’ll give it go!
HR: Excellent. Bob, this interview will last around 30 minutes and, in order to ascertain whether or not you’ll be a good fit for the bank, I’ll be asking you to give examples of where you have demonstrated Barclays’ key competencies. At the end, there’ll be 5 minutes or so for questions.
HR: Ok Bob, what are Barclays’ founding principles?
BD: That one’s easy. Honesty. Integrity. Plain dealing. These are the three values that I live my life by.
HR: Can you give me an example where you showed this to be the case?
BD: Shucks, let me think. In terms of integrity, at a recent Treasury select enquiry, I was asked when I first knew about an indiscretion that had arisen at my bank. In reality, I had had my suspicions for a very long time. I could have given the committee a politician’s answer, stating that the enquiry was a drawn out affair from which the findings did not emerge until earlier that month. Instead, showing the utmost integrity I…oh wait…oh nevermind… Naturally, “plain dealing” is the primary reason I got into banking in the first place.
HR: Fine. Bob, at Barclays, being able to think on your feet is a coveted attribute. Can you think on your feet?
BD: No….ooops, I mean yup.
HR: Ok then, I’m going to ask you a numerical problem. This is not a trick question. Are you ready?
BD: Go nuts.
HR: What is the sum of two plus two?
HR: Two plus two?
BD: I told you it’s 5.
HR: This isn’t a trick question.
HR: (Exasperated) TWO PLUS TWO!?!
HR: Right answer. (BD feels as if he always had faith in his convictions. The interview continues) Trading is one of our primary revenue streams. Our Euro rates desk is one of the most profitable on the entire street. Bob, can you tell me what traders do?
BD: Goody, that one’s easy! Traders provide an essential service by providing liquidity to the markets. The process is very similar to selling fruit and veg on a stall, they aim to buy low, sell high.
HR: Hmmmm. Tell me more?
BD: Sometimes there is a shortage of bananas and it is the trader’s job to source some more bananas for the buyers. Sometimes there is a glut of bananas and traders must look to offload these on behalf of the seller. See? The role of a market maker is to enable agents to acquire and dispose assets to match their portfolio needs. Traders are therefore entirely client focused.
HR: Perfect answer. Now, suppose in some crazy hypothetical wonderland, what if I were to tell you that traders don’t act solely in the public interest.
BD: Ohhhh jeepers!
HR: Traders actually look to take on as much proprietary risk as the regulators will permit. They look to exploit every technicality and loophole in FSA policy in order to maximize the value of their positions. In some cases, traders may look to manipulate prices. One fruit and veg man may tell another to hold back supply so as to drive up prices.
BD: No way José! This is definitely the first I’ve heard of it.
HR(whispers to colleague): I think we’ve found our man.
HR (to BD): Thanks. Bob, I notice that you have an extremely impressive CV. Why do you think you would be suited to the role of CEO of Barclays?
BD: That’s a no-brainer! Well as CEO of an investment bank, my main role is to act as a PR agent to the shareholders. When times are good, I tell them that this will continue. When times are bad, I must tell them things are going to get better.
BD (interrupting): Ultimately, I will seek to protect my own back. At the end of the day, my future salary and my reputation is tied to that of the company. Look here. If I have to abandon all principles and drop colleagues into the mire in order to save my own back, then so be it.
HR: But what about your commitment to integrity and honesty?
BD: My commitment to what?
HR(*gives a mmmm of approval*): Very interesting Bob. Now, moving on. At Barclays we place a strong emphasis on ethical behavior. The following question examines your situational judgment. Can you describe for me a time where you were put in a compromising position?
BD: Funny you should ask! Last week, the bank I previously worked at was found to be involved in illegal price setting. One of my sub-ordinates had engaged in some underhand dealings. In all honesty, I don’t know what my traders do. Whilst I project the façade that we are acting in the public interest, I trust the boffins beneath me to make as much money as possible without drawing too much attention to our questionable practices. Sometimes they break the law. We adopt a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, but this time we got called out.
HR: And what did you do when you found out that a co-worker was being dishonest? How did you react?
BD: I acted with complete integrity…
HR: What did you do?
BD: I acted in the best interests of the company…
HR: Which entailed what exactly?
BD: I acted as any other CEO would and told another untraceable lie to try and protect my innocence.
HR: *pauses* …When can you start?