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What to expect in the selection process for commercial banking graduates

Team Prosple

Tailored advice for commercial banking graduates: what to expect and how to prepare for the online tests, interview and assessment centre


The hiring process

You’ve cleared the online application hurdle and now you’re through to the ‘performance-based’ part of the recruitment process – doing tests, interviews and group exercises. This can be tough and somewhat daunting, but like anything in life the right practice and preparation can put you in a good position for success.

Ready? Let’s do it!

Part 1: The online test

Most (if not all) commercial banks will provide you with an online test either automatically after you submit your application or once you’ve passed the initial application screening. These tests can vary but a vast majority of them are often provided by an organisation called SHL. You can take their practice tests here.

Online tests are usually divided into a few sections, including a verbal reasoning test, numerical reasoning test and some form of logic test (such as recognising the next step in a pattern). Sometimes banks will also include a personality or psychommetric test which can help determine how well you might fit into the bank’s culture and work with your team.

The key to these tests really is just practice and experience. Some might find these tests easier than others, however with enough practice you’ll be smashing through these in no time. As a result, the best way to get better is just by ‘doing’. We strongly recommend you do as many of these practice tests (in the link above and with a broader Google search) until you feel comfortable. This will help you stay in control of your nerves and time management when doing the real thing.

That being said, there are a few tips on each of the tests to keep in mind:

  • Verbal reasoning: These are all about comprehension, understanding and distilling the essence of a statement or question without assuming or drawing implications. With each question, you’ll generally be given a paragraph to read. Following this, there may be a true or false question based on the information provided. Usually there is also a third option of ‘can not tell’ or ‘not enough information to determine.’ This is where it can get tricky. Some statements can imply a certain answer without explicitly stating it. If this is the case, usually you’ll say that there is not enough information to determine whether the answer is true or false. Make sure to read these paragraphs carefully and cut through to the stated meaning of each sentence. Do this and you’ll be fine!
  • Numerical reasoning: Quick maths! That’s the name of the game. Don’t stress, the maths involved in these tests is fairly basic (think primary school or early high-school). They usually involve a graph or table with a number of questions based on that data. (for example, what was the total value of product A and B produced in year 2014). You’re able to use a calculator in these tests, so the main challenge is about time management. Usually you’ll have about one minute per question (20 questions in 20 minutes) so in your practice runs you’ll want to try and shoot for those numbers. With enough practice you’ll be breezing through these no problems.
  • Logical reasoning: Ever done an IQ test? The logical reasoning tests are kind of like some of the sections of an IQ test. For most questions you’ll get a bunch of shapes in a sequence, and you’ll have to pick what comes next or what should go in the gap. Just like the other tests, the best way to get better at these is practice, practice, practice! The only tip we can give you with this is to not panic, and take a scientific approach to the pattern recognition. Start with a hypothesis for what the pattern (or sequence of logic) could be and test that amongst the potential answers (the good thing is it’s multiple choice!). If that doesn’t work, try another hypothesis. Through this trial and error and having a set of multiple choice answers, this will be a piece of cake with some practice under your belt.

Don’t forget that you’re not expected to get every single answer right in this process. So don’t stress – you can afford some lost marks and still get through the assessment. Stay cool, manage your time well and practice up!

So there you have it, that’s the online test in a nutshell. If you really get stuck on these try getting help from some friends as you practice – after all, you are great at collaborating right? With that being said, make sure you do the real test yourself and don’t try and get around the system by getting your gun friend to do it! A lot of recruitment processes include a second online test at the the assessment centre (where you can’t bring your mate along). This is to make sure that you’re the person that actually did the original online test – so you’ve been warned!

Part 2: The phone or video interview

You’re now up to the midpoint of the process, a half-step between the online application and the big assessment centre! The phone or video interview is usually reviewed by HR and the grad recruitment team. Usually what they’re testing for is how well you understand the bank and division you’re applying for, whether your experience aligns to what’s expected of the program and if you have the right attitude and ‘cultural fit’ for the organisation.

Most commercial banks now conduct this interview through an automated video process – called a ‘digital interview’. This involves a number of pre-recorded questions which you respond to in a frontward facing camera either on your computer or mobile. It’s just like a video call (think Facetime or Skype) except instead of your friend or relative on the other end, it’s a robot with specific questions. Here are must-read tips on how to nail your video interview.

So, what sort of questions can you expect in the digital or phone interview? As mentioned, the key thing ban