Thursday, 4 April 2013

HSBC Work Experience Placement Offer & Telephone Interview Tips

Hello :) So it's been a while I guess since I last did a post and I did mention that I would do one on telephone interviews. Before I begin I have some good news. I have been offered a place on the HSBC work experience placement.

This unpaid placement lasts for one week during July where I'll get:
  • An insight into HSBC's strategy, its history and its values
  • Experience of actual jobs that I'd be doing if I came to work for HSBC full time
  • An opportunity to work on an actual project and share my ideas with management
  • Tips on interview technique and presentation skills
  • Feedback and ideas on how I can develop myself
  • An opportunity to network with other employees in the amazing world of work
I'll also gain:
  • An invaluable insight into what it's like to work in financial services
  • An opportunity to come back for more work experience
  • An opportunity to keep in contact with HSBC

Vacancies opened during January and I applied the day it opened. Candidates had the choice to choose what branch of HSBC they wanted to work in so when applying you applied to the specific branch instead of doing a general application. I chose the Stratford, East London branch simply because it's not too far from home for me. The application was very straight-forward where I had to upload my CV, a cover letter and complete a couple of questions as well as mentioning previous work experience. Once I sent off my application 3 days later I got invited to complete an online assessment. I usually dislike online assessments as I haven't had a good experience completing online numerical and verbal tests but luckily this test was an online dependability test where they asked questions about how you would react in certain situations and what decisions you would make. When completing a dependability test my advice is always to be truthful. Don't try and choose an answer that you think they expect to be chosen. Dependability tests are there to tell what your personality is like and if you're suitable for the role. 

Over a month later I received an email telling me that I have been successful in the previous stage of the recruitment process and that I am invited to take part in a telephone interview which will be conducted by one of their graduates.

Now it's time for my telephone interview tips and how I prepared for it.

I was told that I will be asked about how I related to HSBC's values which are:
  • Leading with courageous integrity
  • Standing for what is right
  • Being dependable and doing the right thing
  • Being open to different ideas and cultures
  • Building connection with people
With this knowledge I decided to research competency questions that are likely to be asked and based on skills such as communication, team work, resilience, integrity, responsibility and more. It's best that you plan ahead and identify what skills you have gained from work experience, college/uni and any extra- curricular activities. The interviewer is more interested in what you did which displays the competency rather than what the situation is. 

It's really important that you look at examples of competency questions so you have an idea of what an interviewer can ask as it's much easier when you're prepared with an answer. Telephone interviews are different to face to face interviews because the interviewer can't see you so you can't judge their reactions during the interview. You must make sure you're prepared and ready to answer the questions. 
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged
  • Make sure you're in a quiet place and be sure that you will not be interrupted at any time
  • If it helps, keep some notes with you. Make sure everything you need is ready and in front of you to avoid movement during the interview
  • Try and sound enthusiastic whilst speaking
  • Ask questions at the end of the interview as you would in a face to face interview
  • Don't talk to fast. The interviewer will be writing notes so talk at a decent pace. This should also help to calm you down.
  • Most importantly, BE YOURSELF :)
When I had the phone interview I was quite nervous because I knew it was really important to make a good impression. I had my notes in front of me, a piece of paper and a pen just in case I had to write down any notes. I had examples ready for the question I thought I would be asked. I was asked two questions but the questions asked were not what I expected. It came to a shock to me because I had to think quickly on the spot. Thankfully, I tried not to panic too much and I managed to think of an answer. If this ever happens to you don't panic. Just make sure you tell the interviewer that you need a moment to think and they will be ok with it. The interview was very short but I knew I tried my best. 

The HSBC work experience placement is run in the UK and offers young people aged 14-19 to gain an insight into financial services. I will do a post about my week at HSBC in July and I hope this motivates some of you out there to apply next year. The opportunities are out there. Make sure you seize the opportunity :) 

I'm really grateful for this placement and I know this is the beginning of a great career in banking. I know that
my interests lie within investment banking but it's important to gain work experience even if it's not completely  related because the skills you obtain is what makes you stand out when applying for a job in the future.


  1. Hi Chantel,

    Congratulations. You might want to read this study that came out last week. Some unexpected tips for interviewing that might come in handy.

  2. hiya i was just wondering what sorts of questions to expect as i have my interview this friday and i'm a bit nervous and what sorts of questions could i possibly ask them?

    1. Hi :)
      On the HSBC work experience website they tell you what values your questions will be based around so I advise you to search the internet for examples of competency questions and you'll find a lot of questions on general competencies businesses look for in an employee. Like in my situation they didn't ask questions that I thought they would so if you've had any previous work experience, a part time job or you just go to school identify what you've learnt from them and what type of skills you gained so during the interview if the questions they happen to ask relate to it you won't be stuck for an answer. You can ask them questions about the programme in general. Things like what will your role be or what happens after the placement in terms of keeping in touch.
      Remember when answering the questions avoid saying "we" because they want to know what you did in the team. This is really important if you're asked about team work.
      I hope this helps and good luck :) Don't worry and just stay relaxed.

  3. Hi,
    I've been offered a work experience placement with HSBC too and they said that they would send me a letter and welcome pack once everything was finalised. My placement starts in 2 weeks and I have not heard from them since! I was just wondering if you have an idea of when the letters are sent out and if you have received one yet. I've recently emailed them regarding the matter but have not heard back yet.

    1. Hi,
      After I received the email confirming that I had made it onto the placement it took a couple of weeks for me to receive the letter. If they don't email back soon enough call them up to find out because that's quite unusual that you haven't received yours yet especially when the placement starts in 2 weeks.

    2. Yes I received the email at the beginning of April so I will try to call them but I cannot see any phone numbers published anywhere? Do you think I should call their customer service? I'm not sure they will know how to deal with work experience inquiries

    3. You could ring up customer services because I'm sure they would transfer you to the right person to talk to but you could try ringing up the branch you are doing your work experience at because they probably should have contacted you about the placement.

  4. Wow! Congratulations on your new career in banking! With a lot of people who are aspiring to reach that position in a prestigious company, you are so lucky to get that offer! For sure, you are the most qualified one among the other applicants. Thanks for sharing your experience as well as the tips here.

    1. I have nearly finished my placement now but thank you :)

  5. Why can you not just state the questions you were asked? is it some sort of big secret?

    1. When I wrote the post I wasn't sure on if I was allowed to share interview questions for example on "the student room" specific interview questions that are asked are not allowed to be discussed so I didn't want to take any risks on here.

  6. You are so inspirational!