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The skills HSBC's retail banking and wealth management arm looks for in graduates

The recruiter wants evidence that you have gone above and beyond the call of duty to meet a client’s or customer’s needs.

TARGETjobs Finance spoke with Sophie Biney, graduate recruitment manager at HSBC, to find out which skills graduates must have to stand a chance of securing one of the hotly contested graduate positions in the bank's retail banking and wealth management (RBWM) division.

This is what we found out...

HSBC wants graduates to have excellent customer service skills

All roles within HSBC’s retail banking and wealth management division will require some liaison with customers and clients, so customer service experience is essential. ‘But customer service isn’t just about being nice and polite or giving a customer the biggest mortgage,’ says Sophie.

Instead it is:

  • Having a genuine desire to do the right thing for customers
  • Seeing things from a customer’s point of view
  • Identifying customers’ limitations
  • Tailoring your approach to customers’ individual needs and circumstances
  • Helping customers to make an informed decision
  • Providing sufficient information to a customer
  • Liaising with the right people within the business to ensure customers are given full and accurate information

HSBC will put your customer service skills to the test

There will be a telephone interview and assessment centre, through which HSBC will gauge your ability to deliver great customer service by asking you specific questions, such as, ‘How would you maintain a good relationship with customers?', and getting you to take part in a group exercise that will simulate a retail banking scenario.

You should back up your answers with examples

Sophie says: ‘In the examples that you give during the telephone interview, the recruiter wants evidence that you have gone above and beyond the call of duty to meet a client’s or customer’s needs.’ The specific type of job you had is less important than you think. What’s important, explains Sophie, is that you show that you did something extra, because responding with something along the lines of, ‘I worked in McDonald’s and my queue went down quickly’ is not a strong enough example and will not impress the recruiter. Sophie says good examples could be those where you:

  • Stepped in to help a colleague resolve a problem
  • Tried to find a different way to meet a customer’s needs
  • Calmed a situation down after it got out of control

HSBC wants you to be good at networking

HSBC has branches, call centres and regional offices around the UK, and if you’re accepted onto its graduate retail banking and wealth management programme, you’ll be expected to liaise and build good working relationships with colleagues across these areas.

‘To do that, you will need to be able to interact with others and build a network of people across the business, which you can approach for information when and where necessary,’ says Sophie.

In order to be able to ‘build relationships very quickly and utilise your network’, which Sophie says is critical, you’ll need to be a confident communicator who’s able to work in a team.

These qualities will be put to the test during the telephone interview and assessment centre. To prove that you have them:

  • Include examples in your answers. Maybe you set up a Facebook account during university for people on your course to discuss lectures, assignments or research
  • Mention your participation is group activities. These could be clubs or societies at university, or sports played regularly with friends or in your local community
  • Speak confidently and clearly over the phone. When having your telephone interview, don’t hesitate or sound downbeat
  • Plan for the interview using our advice on how to tackle telephone interview questions, so you are able to give well thought-out responses
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