Banks have become far too fussy to interview anyone

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If you manage to make it into an interview this year, you may not get far. In May, the chief of staff at UBS wealth management in the UK revealed that they were only offering 6% of the people they interviewed a job. Later that month, one fixed income headhunter suggested that only 2% of interviews were being closed.

But what if you don't even make it to interview stage? What then?

According to recruitment firm Ambition, which specialises in middle and back office vacancies, there are plenty of jobs around in financial services in London right now but banks aren't interviewing people for them because the candidates available to fill those jobs aren't precisely what the banks have got in mind.

"Businesses would find a lot more candidates available to them if they were prepared to invest time in refining a candidate's skill-set rather than searching for a perfect fit," suggests Simon Lynch, managing director of Ambition UK.

Accordingly, Ambition says the number of jobs has risen 9% year on year, but the number of interviews has fallen 7%.

Is this true, have jobs really proliferated wildly?

Yes - if you're talking about change management (which Ambition identifies as an area of particular fussinesss).

"Most of our live roles right now are for change and regulatory reporting," says a consultant in the banking operations team at a rival recruiter. "Banks always want like-for-like experience, which can be hard to find."

But are banks being unreasonably prescriptive in other areas? Maybe not.

Mike Hartwell at recruitment firm Hartwell Buck says most hiring in investment banks is now either about upgrading or about filling niche positions. Where possible, jobs are being filled internally. This inevitably limits banks' willingness to be flexible when they're looking at external candidates.

"Banks are only hiring the best people and people with particular skills," he says. "If agents are moaning that they can't get their candidates interviewed, it simply suggests they're not putting forward good enough people.

"A lot of recruitment firms have expanded very rapidly and have employed armies of graduates who can't identify a good candidate," he suggests.

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