A few weeks ago I made the momentous decision to turn down a full-time 2019 graduate job at the European bank in Singapore where I’d just spent the summer as an intern. The job wasn’t in the front-office and I feared being permanently pigeonholed in the middle office had I joined.
While this was undoubtedly the right decision, I’m now in the unenviable position of having to apply for grad jobs at other investment banks when most of next year’s roles have already been filled by returning interns. Singapore’s investment banking scene is small, so my options are even more limited than they might be in a large IB hub.
Nevertheless, I have got through to the first stage of the recruitment process at seven banks here. And that means I’ve recently completed seven HireVue interviews. Don’t let anyone tell you that these are easy because they are impersonal – I felt very jaded having to do so many of them in a brief space of time (mainly in late September).
Some banks, particularly second-tier ones, ask too many questions during HireVues, which are supposed to provide them with a short introduction to the candidate.
HSBC’s was the longest Hirevue – unnecessarily long in my opinion – and I also had to do an additional online screening test, which involved watching a series of videos about common-but-tricky workplace scenarios and then ranking a list of responses to them. A client calls and wants a complex bespoke product delivered by tomorrow, do you….(rank A, B and C choices). I’d go through all this for J.P. Morgan, but not for HSBC – it’s just not prestigious enough.
Almost all banks do Hirevue in a boring and traditional way, despite it being a relatively high-tech tool. I’ve been asked things like, ‘can you tell me about the Black-Scholes Model?’ That’s just a traditional interview question asked via video.
I’ve also done two HireVues (yes, that makes nine in total!) with non-finance multinationals in Singapore, and both were more enjoyable than any of the banking ones, which were too generic. At one of these corporate-sector HireVues, for example, I had to play a memory-retention game, in which I had to recite lines of numbers that were steadily increasing in their complexity. That was almost fun.
Some banks are better than others at HireVues. The tier-ones I applied to – including J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley – asked just a few technical, behavioural and market-related questions, and the whole process was over in much less than the 20 minutes that you are typically asked to set aside.
As I recall, Morgan Stanley only asked about three questions: Why are you applying to us? Can you tell us about your internship experiences? Which event this year do you think will most affect the markets in 2019? (Or words to that effect). Only the third question was particularly interesting, but at least MS came across as efficient and confident in its screening processes.
As a graduate candidate, you should be efficient, too. It’s not wise to use up the maximum allocated time for each HireVue question. Remember that a person in the bank’s HR team is watching hundreds of these recordings and will get sick of listening to answers that drag on too long. Keeping your responses short and sweet will also mean you don’t lose your train of thought halfway through and completely mess up your HireVue.
Chelsea Xue (not her real name) is in her final year at a university in Singapore.
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