City scape

HSBC global banking and markets: graduate and internship interviews

It’s always good to connect your answers and examples with your relevant experience to show you’re interested in HSBC and not any other bank.

Final graduate and internship interviews for a scheme or placement at HSBC global banking and markets are tough, not least because they’re held at an assessment centre and sandwiched between other exercises which could include a business-related case study, group presentation or written assignment.

To ace one – it’s simple:

  • identify exactly what HSBC is looking for
  • give examples of how you fit the bill
  • display your grasp of the bank and the industry.

OK – not so simple, so we’ve provided some tips.

HSBC's global banking and global markets schemes: demonstrate commercial awareness

Having some key facts about HSBC, the industry and the division to which you’ve applied to work is vital. HSBC makes this clear on its website and will probably ask you questions during the interview to gauge your commercial awareness. So researching these areas is paramount.

But, as HSBC is a mammoth multinational and there’s a huge amount of information available, it might be tough deciding what facts to focus on. To simplify your fact-finding mission, concentrate on the three key areas the bank has identified as essential: the bank, the industry and the division (chosen graduate programme).

  • Key facts: choose facts that you can use to show the depth of your understanding. The employer won't be impressed by facts that aren't particularly meaningful in themselves, such as how many people work in the bank’s investment arm or when HSBC was founded. You could, for example, look into the role of the division to which you’ve applied and how it interacts with other departments, or find out about HSBC’s business strategy and how it influences the division.
  • Bank or industry-related activities that illustrate the facts: jot down a couple of examples that bring the facts you’ve found to life. This will demonstrate that you understand the facts you’ve obtained and can apply them to real-world activities. That’s commercial awareness.
  • Examples of how your experience relates to the information provided: it’s always good to connect your answers and examples with your relevant experience to show you’re interested in HSBC and not any other bank, and that you meet the requirements for the role. It’s easiest to do this in an answer to a question about your skills or why you’d be good in the job.

HSBC's global banking and global markets schemes: show off your strengths

A past candidate said it’s crucial to detail how your knowledge, skills, experience and qualifications make you the perfect candidate for the role. He believes that the modest approach he used to answer questions (he didn’t want to appear a braggart) resulted in him being turned down.

HSBC has invited you in for an interview because you’ve passed a few essential hurdles and recruiters want to find out more about you. The bank specifies that at the interview it wants you to discuss your strengths and use examples to back them up. So don’t be modest – show off your strengths! Ensure, however, that you don’t exaggerate or appear a loudmouth. Use accurate descriptions of your responsibilities; don’t say, for instance, that you led a team if you had a more supportive role.

Compile a list of strengths that are relevant to the role, and identify examples of how you have shown each on in education, work or your extracurricular activities. For example, HSBC seeks an analytical graduate who’s good with numbers for its security services graduate programme. How have you developed these skills? When have you used them?

HSBC's global banking and global markets schemes: ooze motivation

HSBC wants all its graduate recruits, irrespective of the programme they’ve applied for, to be hard-working, self motivated and willing to take on new challenges. There are many ways you can show these aptitudes during the interview.

  • Body language: behave like you want to be there. Keep in mind how hard you’ve worked to get to this stage. Smile and speak in an upbeat tone. Read our article on body language techniques for guidance on how to improve your non-verbal communication skills.
  • Ask questions: HSBC has said the interview is a two-way process that's about you getting to know the bank, as well as the bank getting to know you. Arrive at your interview with questions and be prepared to ask any additional questions that spring to mind when the interviewers are talking about the bank and graduate programme. This will show that you’re curious, keen and engaged.
  • Use examples: turn up at the interview loaded with examples that prove you’re hard-working and motivated. Did you do a work placement or any voluntary work during university? Did you lead a project or team for one of your modules? If you did, talk about it, and show how your input helped to produce positive results.

HSBC's global banking and global markets schemes: epitomise core values

HSBC’s values – openness, dependability and connectedness – define the bank and should also define your attitude and approach to the job. HSBC says having these values is as important as possessing the required skills, experience and qualifications.

HSBC might address its values during the interview, even if you were asked similar questions during your telephone interview. You could be asked, for instance, to ‘Tell the interviewer about a time you helped someone with a problem.’

Helping someone with a problem would encompass all three HSBC values, while other questions might point to one value specifically. Either way, ensure that you turn up to the interview with at least two examples of how you’ve demonstrated each value.

*Visit HSBC’s website for information about its three values.

Our 'How to get hired' articles are written by TARGETjobs editors and writers with job candidates in mind, helping you research and understand employers. Copyright of all material written by TARGETjobs lies solely with GTI Media.