From conduct risk managers to quants, from data scientists to financial crime experts – some candidates in Singapore and Hong Kong are still short supply and high demand.
If you’re in one of these hot Asian banking job functions, however, don’t get too complacent during the interview process. Recruiters have spotted a recent uptick in disgruntled finance professionals looking to leave their current positions because the bank ‘over sold’ the responsibilities of the role in order to recruit them in a competitive job market.
Here’s how to find out during an interview whether the vacancy you’re applying for is really as good as it appears on the job description.
1. Research before the interview
While researching the bank is par for the course for candidates, many people fail to do enough digging into the actual vacancy – and they don’t ask the right questions at interviews as a result. “You must really understand the job in advance of the interview – for example, discuss it fully with a recruiter and any friends you might have in the target company,” says Maniyadeth Narayanan, a consultant at career advisory firm Lee Hecht Harrison in Singapore.
2. Go beyond the job description
“Establish what the manager’s top priorities are for the role, why they were chosen, how they align with the bank’s broader goals, and what the performance expectations are for the job,” says an in-house recruiter at a global bank in Singapore. “Based on how this is articulated you can determine whether the bank’s plans for the job have been clearly thought out and cascaded through the organisation. If some parts of the story don’t fit right – for example, setting high growth targets while shrinking headcount – this might be a signal to ask more questions.”
3. Find out why the incumbent is quitting
Finding out the real reason for the departure will help you determine whether the job is all it’s cracked up to be. “Candidates should always be mindful of any employers who are unable to address their concerns – the interviewer should be able to answer queries on why the incumbent is leaving or has left,” says Lynne Roeder, managing director of recruiters Hays in Singapore.
4. Talk to team members
Being grilled from people at all levels of the bank is common at graduate level, but it doesn’t always happen for more experienced hires. If you have concerns about the role, it’s in your interest to request additional interviews or informal meetings. “Besides HR and the line manager, you should meet with other members of the team or with senior management where possible,” says Roeder. “It’s an excellent indicator for assessing the reality of a job, company culture and team dynamics.”
5. Be wary if interviewers dominate the conversation
When an interviewer talks too much it’s a tell-tale sign that they’re desperate to hire and are bigging up the job beyond its real scope. “It is always better to have an open two-way conversation during the interview. As a benchmark, candidates should ask almost as many questions as the interviewers,” says Orelia Chan, an associate director at Profile Search and Selection in Singapore.
6. Or if they say yes to everything
It’s also a red flag if the interviewer keeps on agreeing with you despite you asking a series of probing questions about the job. “If they show too many compromising signs – such as saying yes to any requests – they actually come across as trying too hard to attract you,” says the in-house recruiter.
7. Spot KPI mismatches
“It can be a warning sign if the KPIs for the vacancy don’t match what the usual KPIs are in that job function,” says Angela Kuek, director of search firm Meyer Consulting Group in Singapore. “For example, in a client-services role, one typical KPI is turnaround time on client requests. But if the interviewer instead keeps mentioning audit quality and checks, the role may not as client-facing as you expected.”
8. Note if they keep talking about timing
If the interviewer continually talks about needing someone to start as soon as possible, it could be a sign of desperation rather than just urgency, says Kuek. The role may be hard to fill and suffering from high turnover because previous incumbents have found it too challenging.
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