Posted on 2/09/2015 by Alan Jarque
Ugonna works in Production Support within the IPED Technology team. We asked Ugonna to share her advice and tips on how best to prepare and what to expect from the Mthree Alumni recruitment process.
A good place to start is your CV. There’s a ton of advice out there on structure, format and what not, so I will keep my advice on this domain brief. Calling it a ‘personal statement’ could put you off writing it but it’s simply 2-3 sentences at the top of your CV which could save it from getting The Shred without being looked at. (Yes, unfortunately it happens!) When writing my personal statement, my aim was to highlight my character, background and ambition; each of these in one sentence.
I then got a call from MThree soon after I had submitted my CV. It wasn’t a scheduled telephone interview, just more of an informal phone conversation to verify what was written on my CV and to expand on certain aspects that they found interesting, mainly my educational background and interest in Finance and Technology.
My tip for telephone conversations (and almost any other situation in which you are put on the spot, to be honest) is to smile. We can all ‘hear’ a smile. Not only do smiles put across a friendly, positive tone to your voice, but they also naturally help you to relax…eventually! Seeing as you’re not face-to-face with the person on the other end of the phone, make sure you sound interested in everything and be as flexible as possible.
I was happy to get an email less than a week later, inviting me to a face-to-face interview with two people from MThree. I was asked to complete some psychometric tests before the interview: Although most people say that you don’t need to revise, I definitely suggest dusting up – there are plenty of practice test websites for this. It would be such a shame to have really impressed them so far with your CV and phone conversation, only to be let down by my mediocre to poor psychometric test results which don’t accurately reflect your ability.
Prepare to be asked about your understanding around investment banking and how tech is used in banking. This is the advice I was given before my interview. Yes, we are grads and for some of us, this is our first stint in banking so we won’t have heaps of knowledge, but our generation is the most internet-savvy; we might not know things immediately, but we know how to find out and find out quickly.
This ties in to my next point. Research the role you’re interviewing for. Google the job title and read reviews written by people in the same position. From these reviews, you’ll find out what they think are perks and challenges of the job. This is invaluable information for you to develop well-balanced interview answers. Websites like glassdoor.co.uk are fantastic for this. I also used LinkedIn to look at the profiles of my interviewers and what skills and experience they have that allowed them to get to their current position. Looking at LinkedIn profiles also gives you an indication of career progression from the role you are interviewing for and indicates a medium to long-term interest in the career which is exactly what employers want to hear: commitment.
MThree ran through several STAR-structured questions. Don’t just reel off your previous experience in cliché ‘structured’ answers that can already be found on your CV e.g. ‘I worked on a group project in my final year and one of us wasn’t pulling their weight so I took on the leader role and encouraged them to do their part’. Yawn, aren’t we all such leaders. Researching the role will allow you to provide answers with a deeper insight to the role than the average candidate.
The next stage for me was two panel interviews about two weeks later, four people from RBS in each. Yikes! Is that what you’re thinking? Well don’t. Each hiring manager is trying to picture you working for them – they have started off with a positive mind set which is a great thing so work with that.
Would you be proactive? Would you be confident enough to challenge old ideas? Would you be reliable and easy to work with different people? Bear these questions in mind when formulating your answers. If you don’t know the answer to a question, try not to say the words, ‘I don’t know’. Perhaps pause and say ‘Let me think’ or ‘I’m not 100% certain but…’ – anything to show that you haven’t given up on a challenge so quickly.
In one of my panel interviews, I was asked what the difference is between a future and an option and I didn’t know the answer, but I explained what I was thinking and at least made an effort. I was worried about technical questions but that’s the most ‘technical’ my questions got. A comforting reminder is that you’re not limited to selling only your current skills in your interview, you can also sell your potential skills. Be full of energy and tell your potential employers what you could pick up and how you imagine yourself working with the team. Breathe, believe in yourself and you will be great.