Careers March 1, 2018

This is how I ended up working for Monzo

A moody photo of the Monzo office after hours. The Monzo sign is glowing light blue, and there are carved pumpkins underneath it. Spooky Halloween!

Four months ago, I wrote a post detailing why I left my previous job, and how uncertain the future seemed to be. Well, life comes at you fast. As soon as that post left my drafts, a unique opportunity came my way. “Work for Monzo?” I exclaimed. “I freaking love Monzo.”

For context, Monzo is one of the UK’s newest banks. It is fully app-based, and has been highlighted by the media as being ‘the bank so cool it’s become a pick-up line‘. (Side note: the Mashable piece I’ve just linked to is one of the best accounts of the Monzo phenomenon. Worth a read.)

I’m writing this post for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, I’ve been radio silent for longer than I’d planned to be. Secondly, I’ve been asked to tell this story by a whole bunch of people, so I gotta give the people what they want. Finally, I’m writing this post for me. I haven’t had the chance to reflect on this strange, pleasantly surprising time of my life. I owe it to myself to do just that.

This is the story of how I ended up working for my dream company, what it’s really like, and what it’s taught me so far.

Applying to Monzo

Gonna be real for a moment – I didn’t think I was going to get this job. It was the first and only job I applied to after handing in my notice for my previous one. After all that stress, I wasn’t feeling too hot.

However, it was a Fast Track role that was closing in a few days. So… I just went for it. What did I have to lose? In my head, I was thinking, “at least I get to see what their HQ might be like if I get through the first stage.”

The initial application was a standard CV and questions-type form. If I recall correctly, the form included questions like “When was the last time you went above and beyond for somebody?” and “What is one thing you do really, really well?” For the latter question, I said, “I am really good at writing tweets that are exactly 140 characters long (skill gained after being a social media manager) Count the letters.”

The second stage was a challenging take-home task. The exercise gave us ten user problems to sort out in priority order. It also asked us how a) we would solve it and b) what we would say in reply to the user. After sending that off, I was fairly confident I’d stuffed it up.

To my shock, I got the invitation to attend the assessment centre for the role. Which, coincidentally, was happening the day after my last day at Jobbio, my previous company. Hoo boy.

Arriving at the assessment centre

My lovely team at Jobbio’s London office took me out for bowling and karaoke for my farewell shindig. It was a fantastic evening, which led to me going to Monzo’s assessment centre feeling fairly fragile that Saturday morning. After learning no trains were running from South East London, I arrived at Monzo’s ‘Mega Day’ (as it was affectionately called internally) slightly nauseous and mildly terrified.

Those fears melted away as soon as I walked through the door.

The first thing I heard was, “We’re so sorry, but breakfast is slightly late! It’ll be coming soon.” Breakfast?! My hungover self rejoiced.

There were an army of Monzo employees with branded T-shirts and big smiles ready to greet us. They took polaroids of all the applicants, sticking them on a big board. It was by far the least intimidating first impression I’ve had at an assessment centre. We started the day with a kick-off presentation by Monzo’s Chief of Operations, Tom Foster-Carter, outlining company culture and the importance of customer operations to the business. Then, it was time for the assessment centre.

Defeating ‘Mega Day’

In the beginning, we were put into groups for a short exercise. They asked us to figure out a real problem Monzo faced a few months prior: the first ever rollout of the new current account cards. I felt especially nervous about this part. It was a real challenge, and I had no control over what others in the group would say. Thankfully, we came up with a strategy that (I feel) made sense. We even got feedback after it was all over, which was rewarding and useful.

This was followed by two one-on-one interviews: one role-specific, and the other a culture-fit interview. The role-specific one was equal parts delightful and terrifying. Delightful because I was interviewed by someone I’d actually spoken to on the Monzo app before, which was super cool. Terrifying because he then proceeded to bring out my answers to the second stage of the application, and asked me to justify my decision-making process.

The culture-fit interview was a little bit of a mystery to me. In all the jobs I’d ever applied for, I’d never had a specific interview about culture. Often, I’d try to fit my ‘square’ into a company’s ‘circle’. I wouldn’t necessarily had been my genuine self.

Curiously, after going through the ‘Mega Day’ process, I felt calm and open. It was about time I be myself. Not a projection of what I thought a company wanted me to be. So, I let it all hang out. I spoke about my passions, my insecurities, and how much I’d wanted to be part of something I truly believed in.

The assessment centre was on the Saturday. I got a phone call the following Monday saying I’d gotten the job.

Look, mum, I work for a bank!

Honestly? I’d never thought I’d find myself working for a bank, but here I am! I’m super excited to be here, and am happy to have found a new start in an unexpected place. Who knows how things are gonna go next, but for now, I’m happy to go with the flow.

Want to know more? Sound off in the comments! I’d love to answer any of your questions.

Writer’s note: When my website was hacked in 2018, I had to take everything down (literally everything! My heart hurts re-living the experience.) Here’s the post in most of its entirety, with a few minor copy edits and a swapped out tweetee.

Originally published: 1st March 2018

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