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UBS application: tackling ‘why the specific business area?’ question

Your potential for success depends on more than the practical skills you picked up along the way. You have to convince recruiters that you have the attitude to succeed.

In one question on its application form, UBS asks graduates to explain in up to 1,000 characters:

  1. Why did you choose the specific business area to which you applied?
  2. Why do you think you'll succeed in this area?

The character count is generous, so you shouldn't have any trouble fitting in the particulars you'd like to include. However, it's not mandatory that you write 1,000 characters. Use the character limit as a guideline to structure and plan a detailed answer.

UBS will ascertain from your answer your level of knowledge and motivation. So, ensure that you convey in your response specific reasons for applying and that you have the required skills and relevant experience. And don't go off on a tangent.

To do this:

Research the division and how it fits into the wider business

  • Visit the 'our key hiring areas' page (within the graduates and interns section) of the UBS website for an overview of the bank's main divisions and the roles within them.
  • Read the 'our firm' and 'products and services' sections on the UBS website. These give you further information about the firm's history, strategy, governance and business, plus what products and services it offers.
  • Consider brushing up on financial terms and functions with our investment banking glossary or UBS's dictionary of banking. The website can be tricky to navigate so it may be easier to type 'UBS dictionary of banking' into Google.

Your research should give you enough information about the business area and how it fits into the wider context of the bank for you to choose up to three specific reasons for why you have applied.

Take the investment bank's securities business, for example, which is said to have adapted well to the new regulatory environment and is ready to embrace new models of investment banking.

Has the division's swift response to external pressures attracted you? Or maybe it's the division's ability to adapt and turn a challenging situation into a beneficial strategy that has appealed to you? Can you provide evidence of a time when you have had to adapt to a challenge and create a strategy that puts you ahead of the curve?

Find specific factors about the business area that relate to your career goals and values

  • Think about your career aspirations and how the division will help you to achieve them.
  • Be aware of the typical progression routes for graduate recruits and ensure they're aligned with your ambitions.
  • Does the division have a culture? Find out if it does and how you would fit in.

UBS recruiters will remember your application if you explain how the graduate opportunity within your chosen business area relates to your interests, career goals and values.

Perhaps you had a chat with a few UBS employees at a careers fair and the bank's culture (collaboration, recognition and continuous professional development) grabbed your attention.

Maybe you then secured an internship to find out more about the bank, and the analytical, research and contact-building elements of its investor clients services division really attracted you.

Link your skills and experience to what UBS is looking for in a graduate recruit in the sector

  • List the skills UBS is looking for in a graduate recruit in your chosen division and exemplify how you have demonstrated those skills in education, work or elsewhere.
  • Mention anything that you have done outside formal education to improve your chances of landing a graduate traineeship in investment banking after university, such as courses, spring insight programmes, internships etc.

The skills and experience that you have gained through education, employment, work placements and elsewhere will help you to explain why you believe you will succeed in the business area.

The bank's corporate client solutions business area, for instance, requires candidates who have proven problem analysis, decision making and organisational skills. UBS will also want these skills if you are applying for its group technology graduate programme.

Did you plan and organise projects at work or university? Have you got any examples of when your decision making had a positive impact on other people? Include these types of examples.

However, your potential for success depends on more than the practical skills you picked up along the way. You have to convince recruiters that you have the attitude to succeed.

For graduate roles in this business area, UBS is also looking for candidates who are driven and committed. Prove with tangible evidence that you have these qualities.

Did you do an additional course after university to improve your technical skills, knowing that this is an area your target employer wants you to be competent in?An example like this would illustrate your self-motivation and your commitment to your graduate career of choice.

Read what graduates at UBS have to say about the firm at TARGETjobs Inside Buzz. Is there anything about the attitudes of graduates now working for UBS that you feel you share and which you can relate to why you think you'll succeed in the business area to which you're applying?

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.