Graduate Recruiter Q & A

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eFinancialCareers had the chance to ask three top recruiters on what kind of candidates they look for and what advice they had for financial markets professionals. Here's what they have to say.

From Laurence Raison, Global head of talent management and people development, Societe Generale CIB

What are the top qualities you are looking for in your graduate recruits?

Honesty and integrity are top of the list: the candidate must share our values. Then curiosity, the hunger to learn and try new things. Finally, flexibility and adaptability. We believe leadership never comes from replicating what was done before but from constantly asking how we can do it better. We encourage creative new ways of thinking and a combination of enthusiasm and rigor.

Do you look for any particular academic qualifications, and how can a candidate make their resume stand out?

We always look for evidence of a high level of skill and motivation, as well as something that makes you stand out from the crowd. It's very important that the candidate thinks carefully about their career and makes an informed decision about which division and which bank they're applying to. Read the job description carefully and take time to research the bank. We expect to see more than what's on our Web site. You must be able to demonstrate some enthusiasm for your chosen career.

What are the most common mistakes that students make when applying?

Undoubtedly, the most common is a lack of attention to detail. Any grammar and spelling mistakes look careless and unprofessional, especially as it is so easy to avoid them now. Some resumes contain too much information, which makes it difficult to find what is relevant to us, while others contain too little, which makes it hard to establish if the candidate is right for the job. During interviews, candidates are stressed so they often do not listen carefully to the question asked.

What non-work-related activities do you look on favorably?

One of the key things we look for is activities that demonstrate team spirit or an ability to work well with others. This could be something like charity work or sporting achievements. Candidates need to be able to create a link between the activities they've been involved with and explain how the skills they've gained from this are relevant to the role they're applying for.

From Isabella Crocker, Vice president, APAC graduate recruitment, Deutsche Bank

What would make you pick out one graduate resume over thousands of others you receive in Asia-Pacific?

It's not purely about academics. Yes, candidates need to achieve a certain academic standard but they should also be able to show that they can manage their workload effectively, perhaps through balancing a heavy course load with extracurricular activities or a part-time job.

Applications must be well-written and concise. Attention to detail is very important and spelling errors are not tolerated. Thorough preparation and communication skills are the most important aspects of the application process. Students need to articulate clearly why they are strong candidates and why they want to work for Deutsche Bank.

How integral is gaining an internship to securing a full-time offer eventually?

Very important. The internship program is more than just summer work experience. It is a two-way interview, as it allows the employer to assess your ability and potential, and enables the candidate to determine whether this is the right industry, firm or division for them.

Hiring for the graduate program is a long-term commitment, for both the employer and the candidate, and the internship program is a key pipeline. It is therefore important that candidates approach their search for an internship with the same rigor, commitment and focus as they would for a full-time job.

Can you offer any tips on how to prepare for the interview process?

The key is to evaluate your own strengths, weaknesses and development areas, so that you can anticipate the questions you will be asked during the interview. It's also important to research Deutsche Bank. Not all investment banks are the same and candidates need to know why they want to work for us over other firms.

Interviews aren't always about knowing the right answer to questions. Most questions are designed to test your thought processes and logical reasoning skills rather than specific financial knowledge. We do, however, want to see a real interest and enthusiasm for the banking industry.

Remember that the interview is a two-way process. If candidates don't have any questions at the end of an interview, it doesn't send out a positive message.

What are the chances of a candidate from the West securing a position in Asia-Pacific?

Deutsche Bank aims to recruit the best students wherever they are studying. Our graduate training program is truly global, and whether you choose to start your career in London, New York, Tokyo or Singapore, you can expect the same high standard of training and opportunities. If you are interested in working in a specific country, it is important to do your research and articulate what interests you about the region.

From Larissa Goodwin, Associate recruiter, J.P. Morgan

What is the number one reason why applicants are rejected?

We assess the qualifications of an applicant based on a variety of factors. It's difficult to specify one particular reason. We look at academic performance, work experience and leadership qualities. There are multiple factors that we take into consideration when making a decision on a candidate.

What are the three characteristics that describe your ideal graduate hire?

We look for a number of things including top talent, overall cultural fit within the bank and people who are team players. We also look for leadership qualities and assess their overall work and academic experience to determine what a candidate brings

to the table.

Do you arrange work permits or help foreign students work at the company?

If a candidate requires a work permit, we can work with them to help with this process.

If a candidate does poorly in a core subject, can they still pursue a career in investment banking?

We look at the overall academic performance. Our focus is to develop a holistic view of a candidate that allows us to look at their entire academic record, so normally one course would only be a small component of a candidate's full profile.

Does the bank have any preferred universities, colleges or schools that it selects from?

We have success at schools with strong finance programs, but also find successful candidates with liberal arts and other academic backgrounds.

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