HSBC Graduate Scheme Interview Questions

Last Updated: 20 February 2020

Approximately 250 graduate trainees are hired by HSBC each year, from about 15,000 applicants. Interviews and assessment days take place from January to March at the company's Canada Square assessment centre in London and Bricket Wood centre in Hertfordshire.

HSBC Interview/Assessment Process

The interview process for HSBC is as follows:

Online Application

The HSBC online application will ask you to provide basic personal information such as: Name, Address, Contact Telephone Number and University Qualification. You will also be asked to upload your CV. Make sure that your CV details the following:

  • All your work experience to date (voluntary, internships, part-time work)
  • Positions of responsibility
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Academic Details
  • Scholarships or other awards.

Candidate Questionnaire

The candidate questionnaire is used to assess your abilities in terms of key competencies. These are skills or particular personality traits that HSBC recruiters think are important for employees to possess, in order to do the particular job you have applied for.

Online Numerical and Verbal Reasoning Aptitude Tests

These aptitude tests each take about 20 minutes to complete. You are allowed to take the tests at any point within a five-day time frame and because they're online, you'll be able to take them at a time and in a place that's convenient for you.

The tests are provided by SHL and you will be given the chance to take practice papers before you start the real thing.

Interviews

If you are successful at the online testing stage, you will be asked to choose a date and time for an interview. This may be face to face, or you may be given a telephone interview.

Before the interview you should re-read your CV, application and remind yourself of the particular graduate programme you have applied for. You should also further research the firm and think about why you want to work there. You should also be prepared to talk about your skills, hobbies and interests, and about yourself more generally.

First-round interviews are competency based. You will be asked to talk about specific examples of when you've used your skills and experience, your leadership skills, and your ability to work with others (teamwork).

Telephone interview

The HSBC telephone interview is a highly structured competency based interview.

You will be asked competency based questions such as:

  • Give me an example of a time when you were involved in a teams in the past? How were you involved?
  • Give me an example of a time when you have had to lead a team. How did you manage this team successfully?
  • Tell me about your experiences dealing with customers and clients. How did you behave towards their demands?
  • Tell me about your decision making process. How do you make decisions? Who do you turn to when making decisions?

You will need to give specific examples of experiences from your life, to answer these competency questions.

Your interviewer will feed on your answers and may often ask you to explain specific details in further detail.

Your interviewer will have a strict time limit to keep to. If they feel the example you're giving them isn't providing them with the information they're looking for, they may interrupt and ask for another one. Equally, they may feel you've given plenty of evidence, and move you on to the next question. Don't be offended if you get cut off during a response, just move on.

You will only be asked competency based questions during this interview. You won't be asked questions like "why do you want to work for HSBC".

Face-to-face interview

Wherever possible, your interviewer will be a line manager from your chosen business area. Face-to-face interviews are structured and competency based. You will be asked to talk about specific examples of when you've used your skills and experience to demonstrate particular capabilities that your interviewer is looking for candidates to possess.

Assessment Day

The HSBC assessment centre comprises a case study and other exercises that give you the chance to display your skills and capabilities. You'll also have an opportunity to find out more about HSBC, the work you will be doing and the division you have applied for.

Most of the activities you will be involved in during the assessment day are simulated scenarios. For example, you will be asked to imagine being in a meeting with your new managers (your assessors) in which you need to make an important strategic decision. You'll also take part in a simulated customer or internal colleague meeting, where your assessor will play the role of a customer/colleague.

The assessment day will begin early (8:30am - 9:00am) and once you have met with your assessors/recruiters you will be asked to fill out some paperwork. You will then be taken to a meeting room for tea/coffee, biscuits and a welcome talk from a member of the HR team, with an opportunity to ask questions at the end.

Group exercise

Candidates are separated into teams of four and will be allowed to ask two questions as a group, about a pack of cards which has one or more cards missing from the deck. Your group must then work out which card is missing from the answers you've received, following a further five minutes of discussion time. You will then have a 15 minute break before then next activity.

After the break you will once again form groups of four and be asked to make something that resembles what you (your group) thinks of HSBC, using a box and a collection of art materials: pipe cleaners, paper clips, paper, card, etc. This test will last for one and a half hours. You assessors will be watching your progress. Furthermore, the finished product your team produces is not important. Assessors will be more interested in how you debate, how your group forms decisions, who takes leadership and whose ideas are used, than the finished product.

Once this task has been completed your group will be asked to present the product and design. This will be followed by questions from your interviewers and the other candidate teams.

This completes the morning half of the assessment. You will then have an opportunity to take a break and lunch will be provided. Take this time to talk to other candidates and if possible, talk to graduate trainees already working at HSBC. You will learn more from current trainees than from anyone else regarding what you will be doing once you have received an offer, and what it’s really like to work for HSBC.

Once the afternoon assessment session begins, the candidates will be split into two groups. Half will then be given one-to-one interviews, while the other half gives individual presentations. Presentations will be on a subject you will be told to plan for before the assessment day. The subject is often your greatest achievement of the last 12 months.

After this the two groups will switch and a final Q&A session will follow, where candidates may ask anything about the company, recruitment process or training process at HSBC. The day is generally relaxed, and your interviewers and assessors will be friendly. They will not be trying to catch you out.

  • Remember that the subject of presentations is not as important as your presentation skills. Your greatest achievement of the last 12 months does not actually have to be an amazing achievement itself, but you do need to present with confidence, intelligence and personality, and be able to answer questions as required.
  • During group exercises make sure you keep to time limits. Working within deadlines is a very important skill for employees to possess, and something HSBC recruiters will no doubt be looking out for.
  • Remember to maintain your enthusiasm throughout the whole day. Interviewers will be looking for candidates who can work hard at all times, not just in the morning, or during an exercise that may be particularly enjoyable.
  • You do not need any specific technical banking knowledge to be successful at this stage (or any stage) of the assessment process.

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