Eight application and interview tips from Deutsche Bank

If you missed Deutsche Bank's webinar on applying for its first-year work experience programmes, internships and graduate opportunities, pick up the key points here.

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Jump to: who can apply for what | the application process explained | the magic of a power hour | CV tips | prove your interest | use your research | covering letter tips | interview tips | good questions to ask

On Thursday 10 December 2020, Sarah Scadding, early careers recruiter (campus and diversity) for Deutsche Bank, took over the TARGETjobs platform to talk about opportunities with the bank. She also gave lots of application and interview tips that are relevant not only for Deutsche Bank but also for other finance employers. Unfortunately, the session couldn’t be recorded, so TARGETjobs has compiled the main points below.

1. All degree backgrounds are welcome to apply

At Deutsche Bank, students from all degree backgrounds and from all universities are actively welcome to apply. ‘Don’t be put off if you haven’t done a finance degree or, for our tech roles, a computer science degree,’ Sarah said. ‘We have wonderful training that will give you the skills you need and teach you what you need to know.’

However, opportunities are restricted to specific year groups:

First years on three-year courses and second years on four-year courses can apply for…

  • Rise (a career development and insight programme for students of black heritage)
  • Grow programme (a career development and insight programme for women)
  • Spring into Banking (investment banking)
  • Spring into Banking (technology, data and innovation).

If you are a first year on a four-year course, you do have to wait until your second year to apply for the above programmes, even if your course is only four years because it includes an optional placement year.

Penultimate-year students can apply for…

  • Summer internship programme
  • Seasonal placements.

Finalists and graduates can apply for…

  • Graduate programme.

First years can apply for multiple programmes simultaneously. Sarah told us that the early careers recruitment team will suggest an alternative programme to promising applicants if they think it would suit them better. However, she added that, for penultimate-year students and graduates, the advice is to apply for one programme.

The Deutsche Bank application process in brief

  • Online application, which requires a CV and a covering letter.
  • Online situational judgement test (SJT), which focuses on how you would approach situations you would typically encounter if you worked at Deutsche Bank
  • Interview process (which, for the first-year opportunities, involves two telephone interviews)
  • Offer stage (a verbal offer, followed by a contract; you have two weeks to accept the offer).

2. Make the most of a power hour to apply without delay

Sarah stressed that, although Deutsche Bank sets a deadline, it recruits on a rolling basis and will close early if it is receiving sufficient applications – and at the moment it is. So, don’t think you can wait until just before the deadline. ‘Don’t sit around; crack on with a really good application and get it in,’ Sarah encouraged. She also thought it was important not to be discouraged by there being a lot of competition: ‘You've got to be in it to win it. So, if you are considering one of our programmes, make an application. And, if nothing else, it's a great learning process for you in regard to making future applications.’

But how to fit in time for applications? ‘I'm a big fan of a power hour,’ said Sarah. ‘Set a timer for an hour, sit down and start working on your application and it will soon be in a good spot.’

3. Make your CV easy to read

‘There are some things on CVs that aren't negotiable, but there are definitely some things that are subjective. So, for example, one recruiter might prefer a two-page CV and the other a single page,’ Sarah noted. She confirmed that recruiters at Deutsche Bank tend to prefer a one-page CV but will accept two pages.

Elements that should always be included are your:

  • Name and contact details
  • Academic history
  • Work history (including unpaid work experience, shadowing etc).

In addition, Deutsche Bank also pays particular attention to your extracurricular activities and your other achievements, such as volunteering, the languages you speak, your involvement in student societies and so on. ‘You want to show that you are well-rounded,’ Sarah said. ‘But also your interests and extracurriculars can provide good talking points for interviews.’

What you include and in how much detail is up to you; there are no hard and fast rules. ‘We have no preference about the type of experience you have – it’s more about what you have learned from each experience,’ Sarah assured us. ‘Elaborate on your achievements and experiences; use active words to convey what you have done.’

Make sure you give the most space to the activities that are most relevant to the job and the bank. Sarah said that it is a mistake not to include non-finance work; you might not think your bar work is relevant, but it gives you lots of the skills banks seek, such as customer service and teamwork. However, you might not want to devote a lot of space to it if you have a great deal of finance-related experience.

‘Additionally, I wouldn’t include details of referees,’ she said. ‘That could take up a third of a page that could be better spent telling us about your achievements. We will ask you for your referees as and when we need them.’

The point that Sarah made repeatedly in the webinar is to put yourself in recruiters’ shoes. ‘Make it easy for us to read your CV. Use good size margins, don’t use a small font size to squeeze everything on to one page and have a good amount of whitespace. Use clear headings, simple sentence structures and bullet points. Be careful of using colour, symbols and images that may not show up well on screen or when printed out.’

Sarah also advised applicants to check their CV to make sure that their contact details are correct and that the CV does not contain any inaccurate or embellished information. ‘Reread it over and over and get it proofread because mistakes can happen to anyone,’ Sarah said. ‘In one of my first job interviews I was asked if I’d spent a year in America and I said, “No, just six months”. But I had a typo on my CV that made it look as if I had spent a year in America. I had been sitting there saying that I had excellent attention to detail and I did not back that up with my CV. Needless to say, I did not get that job!’

Deutsche Bank recruiters prefer a one-page CV, but will accept two pages.

4. Provide evidence of your interest

While Deutsche Bank accepts all degree backgrounds, it does want people who are passionate about the work the bank does. ‘Please don’t panic if you don’t have a finance degree. But you need to have some reasons why you are interested in finance and/or technology. If you don't come from a financial background, focus on the things that you have done to increase your financial knowledge. If you are applying for a technology role, have you done technology projects on the side? That would show the kind of passion we are looking for.’

If you haven’t got much evidence of your interest in finance or tech, Sarah suggests that now is the time to acquire some. ‘Make sure that you use the resources available to you, for example: TARGETjobs, your career service, online skills courses and so on. Maybe you could find a podcast that teaches you about finance – or, if you're more interested in the tech side, you could join up to websites where you're able to share code and work on projects together?’

5. Use research to demonstrate your motivation in covering letters and interviews

Take time to do your research into the business. ‘You can set up a Google Alert that will let you know anytime we're in the news,’ Sarah pointed out.

Use what you discover to demonstrate in your covering letter and at interview why you specifically want to work for Deutsche Bank. ‘What do you know about the company? What is it that is interesting to you – is it that you came to this talk today with Sarah Scadding and she shared the bank’s values and they are very aligned to your values? Is it that you've seen our recent announcement of a partnership with Google Cloud and you find that very interesting and you think that reinforces how innovative you think we are?’

Sarah shared that one of the reasons she joined the bank was its values. ‘I definitely felt that they were open to new ideas. And that's the environment I like to work in. I like to know that we can look at something and say “could we do this differently or better?” My role reaches across lots of different departments across the bank and everybody is really respectful; you are listened to. People are just nice.’

Sarah stressed that you can ‘name drop’ people you have met at Deutsche Bank when explaining your reasons for applying. You can, for example, say: ‘I attended a webinar with Sarah Scadding and she explained how innovative the bank was and I did some extra research and found…’

6. Write your covering letter from scratch

‘The recommended length for a covering letter is three-quarters of a page to a page,’ Sarah said. ‘This is where you further bring your CV to life, but it is not a regurgitation of the CV.’

She encouraged applicants to use the job description to identify key requirements and then pinpoint two or three things that highlight your skills in these areas. ‘You want to be able to say something like “I was really drawn to this division because it would allow me to use my client service skills and I believe my client service skills are second to none” and then go on to talk about a time in a part-time job when you really looked after a client,’ Sarah advised.

You can address your covering letter to ‘Dear Deutsche Bank’ or to the hiring manager in the relevant division if you know the name (you might be able to find it on LinkedIn).

Write your covering letter from scratch to avoid referring to another company. ‘If you call us by the wrong company name, misspell “Deutsche” or put down the wrong job, I cannot pass it to the hiring manager, even if the rest of it is amazing,’ Sarah revealed.

Be careful not to use the wrong company name or misspell “Deutsche”.

7. Talk to yourself to prepare for interviews

Deutsche Bank assesses you on:

  • Drive, commitment, proactivity
  • Technical and numerical ability
  • Critical reasoning
  • Judgement and integrity
  • Communication and influence
  • Business acumen and awareness
  • Teamwork.

At least one of your interviews will be competency-based, which means you will be asked for examples of the skills Deutsche Bank seeks. ‘You’ll be asked these sorts of questions in many interviews,’ Sarah said, ‘so start getting your examples ready. For instance, ask yourself where, from all of your experience and in all of your life, you have an example of when you were really proactive. Start jotting ideas down.’

Sarah recommended using the STAR structure to give the interviewers all the information they need. ‘I walk around my flat when I have an interview coming up, asking myself typical questions such as “Tell me about a time when you worked in a team”. And then I literally say my answer out loud. By recreating that interview scenario, I am able to judge whether my answer is clear; am I jumping around in the story, am I putting in information that isn't relevant?’

8. Ask questions at interview

‘I'm always really, really amazed when you hand over to a student and they don’t have any questions,’ Sarah confided. ‘I know it doesn't always feel like it, but the interview is a two-way process; it’s an opportunity for you to get a feel for us and whether you’d enjoy working for us. Do you really have all the information you need from our website?’

When asking questions, Sarah recommended staying away from anything you can find online and using the opportunity to delve deeper. ‘You could ask “why do you like working here?” or “My understanding is that the culture of Deutsche Bank is X. Have you found that to be the same?”,’ she suggested. ‘Or you could ask about something in the news, for example: “I read in the news about the restructure that you went through a few years ago. What's your view on that?” or about anything that is going on in the wider world, such as Covid-19. Pick something that you're genuinely interested in.’

Go to Deutsche Bank's employer hub for more general information.

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