What does it do?

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) group runs the second biggest banking operation in Europe and the sixth biggest in the world. Under the RBS corporate kilt, there are numerous other household names in the world of finance and insurance, the biggest of which is the National Westminster Bank, taken over by RBS in 2000. Also in the stable is the Direct Line insurance company, the Churchill and Privilege insurance firms, and the posh people's bank, Coutts. It's a worldwide operation, stretching from Europe to the USA and Asia Pacific.

Vital Statistics:

RBS serves more than 35 million customers worldwide, with 140,000 employees. More than 100,000 of them work in the UK, about a third of whom are in high street offices of the main banks. Other large concentrations of staff are in insurance (17,000), and the part of the business that maintains buildings and all the background technology.

The office:

The global headquarters, opened by the Queen in 2005, is at Gogarburn, on the outskirts of Edinburgh. It's the workplace for 3,200 staff.

Is this you?

Around 400 graduates are expected to be taken on over the next year, spread across nine main functional categories, including retail banking, finance, HR and operations management, all reflected in the graduate careers section of the group website, www.rbs.com. Basic requirements are a 2.1, and some work experience, although RBS says that could be in a chip shop or an office.

The recruitment process:

With an organisation of this size, it can be intimidating knowing how to start, but the website will help you target your application to a specific area. Selection starts with online tests, moves to telephone interviews and ends with assessments at a centre in one of five locations: London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast or Leeds. These will measure "behavioural competencies in an objective yet challenging setting". In practice this means group exercises, in-tray tasks, more interviews and a presentation. Length of training varies according to position: three years for finance, two years for insurance and 18 months for retail banking, for example. It's all designed to smooth the transition from university to working life, with help along the way from a mentor and a "buddy".

Top Dollar?

No jokes about Scottish reticence over financial matters please, but published details here are scarce. However, salaries are, they say, "benchmarked to ensure marketplace competitiveness".

Beam me up Scotty?

The graduate programme is viewed as one of RBS's "key talent pipelines" producing the senior managers of the future. However, the company encourages individuals to have autonomy over their exact career path.

Who's the boss?

Sir Fred Goodwin, a chartered accountant, is Group Chief Executive, having joined RBS in 1998. His record of making savings at previous banks earned him the nickname among insiders of "Fred the Shred.

Little known fact:

RBS's takeover of NatWest in 2000 was the biggest merger in British banking history.

Next week: Sainsbury's