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HSBC retail banking and wealth management: summer internship interview

It’s important to remember that you’re expected not just to work well with others, but to support other people, especially when you’re in a management position.

At interviews for summer internships in HSBC's retail banking and wealth management (RBWM) division, interviewers will ask you competency-based questions to find out if you have the required experience and skills.

Competency 1: taking responsibility for improving your own performance

This competency is mainly about how proactive you are. The bank is looking for someone who can evaluate feedback and is then prepared to do something about it. Recruiters want to know that you can take the initiative and have the drive to improve yourself and learn as much as you can.

An example of this would be if you’ve received feedback from your lecturer on needing to improve the structure of your university essays. A good candidate would research how they could improve this and then apply what they had learned. They would then assess future essays to see whether their mark had gone up and whether the marker’s feedback had changed.

Competency 2: delivering customer service

The bank is looking, ultimately, for graduates who could become bank managers, where customer service is the top priority. Great customer service usually involves friendliness, diplomacy, rapport building, helpfulness and assertiveness – you should be able to take the awkward customers in your stride just as much as the ones that don’t cause a fuss. The bank relies on its customers, so you should count this as one of the most important competencies to demonstrate.

Many part-time jobs include at least a degree of customer service, so think about a time you’ve gone above and beyond your job role to keep a customer happy. That’s not quite as simple as, for example, if you worked in a supermarket and made a special effort to help someone look for something when that was in your job description.

Paying attention to customer needs and acting on it to an extent past what is expected of you is above and beyond though. For example, offering someone with a visual impairment some help with their trolley, or even their whole shop. Alternatively, you could think about a time a customer wasn’t happy and you managed to appease them. How did you do that?

Competency 3: working independently and taking responsibility for your own work

This links in well with making changes and taking responsibility for improving your own performance. HSBC wants someone who is keen to manage projects while having a strong determination to succeed. While the bank will provide training, recruiters don’t want to have to hold your hand.

Think of a team project at university. You know the type: your group is given a broad topic, so you each research a part of it by yourselves before bringing your findings back into the group to make the individual aspects fit before presenting everything together. Each of you is responsible for your own part of the presentation and is graded accordingly. What did you do to make the most of both your independent and group learning? What recommendations could you make regarding how you might do things better next time?

Competency 4: being able to work with and support peers

It’s important to remember that you’re expected not just to work well with others, but to support them, especially when you’re in a management position. In an assessment centre situation, not showing that you take others’ thoughts into consideration could mean the difference between getting through to the next round and failing. Again, retail banking is all about great customer service, and no one can achieve this alone. Can you think of a time when you’ve motivated your colleagues or classmates to carry on with something they were finding difficult? Or if there was something you understood better than a colleague, did you share this knowledge? If so, how did you pass it on? What did you do to create a good working atmosphere?

Competency 5: complying with rules, regulations and procedures

This isn’t quite as simple as doing what you’re told when you’re told. All banks are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority to make sure they are doing a wide range of things as they should – from offering competitive rates to not taking on too much risk, for example. It’s therefore important to HSBC that you are familiar with following set processes and can recognise why procedures are in place.

Think of an example where you’ve had to follow a specific process to keep to the rules. For example, if you worked for your university counselling office, it’s likely you would not have been allowed to discuss anyone you knew using the service for confidentiality reasons.

Prepare to have your application form followed up

It’s also worth looking again at the questions you had to answer on the initial application form. These were to do with evidence of your interest, enthusiasm and aptitude for the role; your assessment of the risks facing HSBC; and a time in when you have challenged a decision or an action you felt was wrong. You may not be asked these questions directly again at interview but they contain key concerns that will still be very relevant in a face to face assessment.

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