My application to the HSBC Commercial Management Programme began during an afternoon break from final year University lectures; the first thing I liked about the initial application was the ease of a CV submission, just to get the ball rolling. There was no 3 hour long application filling out essay style answers, trying to write what you think the company wants to hear you say... and from there, the application process got underway.
Next came an online questionnaire, in which HSBC are trying to gauge your
fit within the business and share the company values. Here (sorry if it’s cliché!), my advice is to not second-guess what you think you should put, but just be honest, because in the long run you need to start a new career being 100% yourself, and not base any success on false pretences.
The good news arrived just a couple of days later, followed by the invitations for the Verbal and Numerical Reasoning Tests. For me, this stage is pretty nerve-wracking, as the time pressure and possibilities of distractions have always made me anxious. Plus, the idea of being rejected through failing a standardised test which wasn’t directly related to the Commercial Graduate Scheme which I really wanted to get would have been so frustrating. The advice here is to just think logically, if the statement isn’t in the text, don’t look for it and let your mind sway you into thinking it’s true or false.
The penultimate stage of the selection process was the telephone interview. The interview takes around 45 minutes, and the assessor has a specific set of questions to get through, so when giving your answers, try not to waffle. Obviously you don’t know the questions you will be asked, but you can still prepare. I found it useful to write a few examples of times when I showed a skill, for example ‘Leadership’ or ‘Teamwork’, and have them in front of me as prompts in anticipation of the questions. Even if you don’t get asked questions, you can adapt your examples to fit what is being asked. The interview was a good experience; there are no right or wrong answers, so just try to get as much information across to the assessor as you can. They are not testing you, it is definitely your opportunity to give as much information across that you want to be considered as evidence. I was put at ease as soon as the call began, so if you are approaching this part of the application process, don’t let it daunt you, just map out clearly your best examples of showing a particular skill, and don’t blab- get your point across! This will also help you prepare for your performance reviews during the programme!
The final stage is the Assessment Centre. This was not what I expected it to be; other assessment centres which I have attended, plus from friends’ experiences, have been very much a group affair, with the day comprising of various team exercises. HSBC Assessment Days can also just be one on one; you are with the same assessor through 3 different exercises; an interview, a role play and a case study which takes half a day to complete. It was really effective, I felt that being with the same assessor for the day meant he truly got to know me, my values, skills and my personality, and the situation feels relaxed, which in turn made me feel I gave better answers to the questions asked. By this stage, you will have many examples in the forefront of your mind; the interview in part, is similar to the telephone interview stage (competency based) so you should feel confident that as you succeeded at that stage, you will be effective in answering at this final stage.
The day for me genuinely was great; I loved how HSBC made the experience so personal, and immediately I felt valued, not judged or intimidated by the situation. The format and style of the day I experienced really did create an atmosphere where I felt I could shine, and portray myself in the best light. At my induction course a few weeks ago, we were informed that for the 2011 Management Graduate programme, there was a high number of applications for every position available, so even reaching this final stage is an achievement, and you have already proven your capabilities and values match those which HSBC are looking for....It’s just the final hurdle to cross before you’re there... an HSBC Graduate Trainee!