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HSBC's 2018–19 graduate recruitment process explained

It’s not about whether you have completed lots of internships and extracurricular activities.

HSBC made substantial changes to its recruitment processes for its 2018 graduate intake, across all geographic regions. TARGETjobs spoke to Charlotte Leer, emerging talent recruitment manager (RBWM & CMB) to find out what you need to know about these changes and to give you her hints and tips.

How and why has HSBC changed its graduate selection methods?

‘We have listened to a lot of feedback from our graduate employees and candidates, and are keen to give applicants a real insight into the role and employer culture that they are applying to, so that by the time they attend our assessment centre they have a greater understanding of HSBC and the area they have applied to,’ says Charlotte. ‘The feedback suggested that candidates wanted to use the assessment process to learn about us as an employer and our roles.’

The new recruitment process follows a strengths-based approach: that is, it is focused on what you are good at, what you enjoy doing and how your skills and behaviours match up with HSBC’s core values – being dependable, connected and open to different ideas and cultures – rather than on your work experience history. You can find out more about HSBC’s values at Ultimately, the assessment criteria for the roles stem from these values.

‘We want to ensure that all candidates have an equal playing field,’ Charlotte tells us. 'It’s not about whether you have completed lots of internships and extracurricular activities; it’s not about what degree subject you’ve studied; it’s about how you would approacinsih situations and whether you have the potential to be successful at HSBC.'

What is the new HSBC recruitment process?

You can only apply for one graduate programme at HSBC. ‘This is because we want you to be sure about which programme you are applying for, as they offer very different experiences and the roles are different,’ Charlotte explains. ‘In addition, the recruitment process is centred around what it would be like to work in that role in that particular division.’ The recruitment process involves:

  1. A short ten-minute application form
  2. An ‘online immersive assessment’: essentially, candidates are presented with a video showing real insight into the specific area and the working day. At various points, the video will be stopped and candidates will be asked to answer multiple-choice or free-text questions based on the scenario they have seen.
  3. The ‘job simulation’: another video assessment that provides a realistic job preview. In this one, graduates will watch a series of questions and will be asked to respond through a variety of ways including video recordings.
  4. A two-hour assessment centre, in which candidates will be given exercises and an interview with a HSBC manager.

There is very little you can do to prepare

Charlotte and her team are interested in seeing how you instinctively respond to situations and what your values are. ‘The exercises are designed to be very simple and not something that can be rehearsed for,’ she says. ‘There is very little that you can do to prepare answers beforehand, so please don’t worry about this.’

If you are still nervous, however, one practical thing you can do is to read HSBC’s values carefully and think through what they mean to you and how they could guide your actions.

Tips for the online immersive assessment part of HSBC’s recruitment process

Expect to be asked about your thoughts on what you have just seen in the video or what you would do next. ‘The video is about 20–30 minutes,’ says Charlotte. ‘When typing the answers to the free-text questions, do your best to be clear and concise. We want to capture your natural responses.’

This stage of the assessment isn’t something that you should do on your phone on the bus! Make sure you are somewhere quiet, where you won’t be distracted, and give it your full attention.

Tips for the job simulation stage of HSBC’s recruitment process

You can record your responses to the job simulator stage on virtually any device. ‘I would suggest that you look presentable and dress as smartly as you would to a face-to-face job interview,’ says Charlotte. ‘Get the practical elements right: make sure that you are in a quiet place where we can hear your answers and where there is enough light for us to see you properly, as well as a good internet connection.’

Tips for the assessment centre and interview questions

‘If you are successful through the job simulation and make it through to the assessment centre, our aims are to make sure that you know what a career with HSBC would involve, and to discover whether we are right for you and vice versa,’ says Charlotte. ‘I know it is a cliché, but your best unique selling point is you. Don’t try to be someone that you’re not.’

By the assessment centre, however, Charlotte would expect you to have gained an in-depth understanding of the division, role and programme. Before you attend, know how the division and the role match your own strengths and why you think it would be a ‘good fit’ for you. Ensure, too, that you have read through your detailed feedback report, which you will have been provided with after your online immersive assessment. Use what you have learned earlier in the process, but also make sure you read all of HSBC’s literature,read its TARGETjobs Inside Buzz reports to find out what graduates really think of life at HSBC, and take any opportunity to meet HSBC representatives on campus at careers fairs and so on.

You won’t be asked standard competency-based (‘Give us an example of a time when you…’) questions; instead, interview questions will focus on your strengths, values and how you react in certain situations. It would also be sensible to know why you want to work at HSBC!

Remember: HSBC wants forward-thinking, driven students from any degree discipline

‘There is an assumption that you have to have a certain degree subject or lots of internships to go into a banking career, but that is absolutely not the case for us,’ says Charlotte. ‘We actively welcome students from a range of subjects; you will be given all the training you need. HSBC careers are for those who are forward-thinking, driven and ambitious; no matter what your background, you will be valued.’

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