How to Crack A Bank Interview – Featured Article

This article is an effort of the author to respond numerous comments left by the candidates who have cleared the written part of State Bank of India’s Clerical Recruitment Examination. The author tries to make it suitable for all Bank Interviews.

Six Myths of Banking Interviews:
To succeed in your interview, you should be able to remove the following misconceptions or myths about the bank interviews:

  • Myth 1: Only Aggressive Candidates Are Selected:
    This is a false notion of many of the candidates that- to impress the interview board, one has to be aggressive. In the interview, your attitude, your confidence and sincerity with which you communicate matters only. Many Candidates commit the mistake of showing off their shallow knowledge or even negative frame of mind while being interviewed.
  • Myth 2: Speak More To Win In An Interview:
    Speaking more does not mean more chances of success. Some candidates have a habit of stretching a topic, unnecessarily sometimes. While speaking shows your depth of understanding a question, speaking more than necessary will make you face cross questions.
  • Myth 3: Project Yourself In Style To Impress The Interview Board
    The bottom-line is to BE YOURSELF. Don’t make an effort to project what you are not. What the interviewer is looking into you, are the traits of an employee, who once selected will be an integral part of the banking organization.
  • Myth 4: Interview Board Has A Formal Atmosphere:
    The reality is- in most cases the interview board has the casual atmosphere to provide the candidates. The board is interested in knowing your attitude and approach towards men and matters along with your outlook on life and your reaction to certain situations.

The board is keen on judging the real persona in you and brings the best out of you.

  • Myth 5: In Bank Interviews All Questions Are Related To Finance & Banking:
    In Bank interviews not all questions are tricky and based upon finance and economics. While the board looks for a flair of finance, business and economy in the candidate, they can ask questions from every branch of activity including political, social , economical to cultural and scientific. If you are appearing for a Job Interview of a Clerical Post , they won’t expect you to be a financial expert. Similarly, if you are appearing in a Bank PO Interview, they may ask you some basics of banking, yet you are not expected to know the answers of very difficult questions such as various articles of negotiable instruments act or RBI act etc.
  • Myth 6: It’s a good idea to prepare with pre-scripted questions:
    It’s not at all a good idea to go to an interview with a pre-determined script of answers. However , you should know some basic definitions and terms related to banking like repo rate, reverse repo rates, difference between them , their application by RBI, latest rates and their impact on economy, open market operations, liquidity adjustment facility, base rate system, Basel-I , Basel-II, CRAR, Universal banking, narrow banking, retail banking, mobile banking, cross selling, micro-finance, financial inclusion, role of RBI, difference between a commercial bank and cooperative Bank.
    Apart from this an insight into economical topics like demand, supply, markets, competition, services industry, banking sector, bank marketing is also required. These questions cannot be prepared by a predetermined script.

Understanding Basics of an Interview:

  • The Interview Board:
    In most Bank Interviews the panel is of 3-5 members. While 3 or 4 of them ask you questions, one may watch your body language and confidence level.
  • The Duration of Interview:
    Most bank interviews run for 5-15 minutes depending upon the response, depth of knowledge and attitude of the candidates.
  • Number of Questions:
    In most interviews the number of questions ranges from 10 to 15 questions. The initial 2-3 questions are to judge what you are.
  • The first usual question is “Introduce Yourself” or “Tell me something about you”.
  • Next one or two questions may be related to your family background such as your parents and siblings, your marital status, kids if you are married.
  • Next few questions would be aimed to judge your suitability and adaptability to the job. Some common questions are ” why you want to join banking? ” or “You are in marketing why don’t you look for a marketing job? ” or “You have done an MBA, why you want to join banking industry Now? ”
  • The questions on your adaptability are thrown to you to judge whether you are fit for changed circumstances. For example, they may ask you whether it will be suitable for you, to join a rural branch of the bank? Girls may be specially asked if they are ready to live away from their families.

What Topics You Should Read?
While there is no prescribed manner in which you should prepare for the interview questions, here are a few suggested topics that you should go through.
(A): About your bank
You need to go to the website of the particular bank for which you have applied and spend some time reading about its history, profile, present organization, products & services, brands etc.
(B) Banking Topics: some most commonly discussed topics are:

  • Types of banks
  • Functions of banks,
  • Difference between various types of banks.
  • Types of accounts, deposits, remittances, RTGS
  • Collection of Bills, Checks, Advances, Loans, Locker facilities, Different delivery channels. bank services, bank customer care, Mobile
  • Banking, Internet banking, challenges of Internet and mobile banking, Retail banking, Financial Inclusion, Financial Literacy, Money markets, Investments, Options, futures and forwards, Credit rating, merchant banking, Over seas banking and home banking, personal banking, Various Loan Products, Plastic Money & Credit cards. Cross selling and up selling
  • RBI & its functions,
  • Some basics about capital markets.
  • The best available source online for the above topics is RBI Common Man Site
  • Some Interview Questions have been posted in GKToday site as well.

Handling Cross Questions on Academic Background:
Usually the first question is about you. The questions that follow may arise from your answers. Before you start preparing, you should give a thought on possible cross questions that may be asked.

For example, a candidate while giving an introduction about himself / herself mentions that he / she has done BA in History. The interviewer puts next question – Ok, now you have decided to join banking industry, how you shall correlate your subject history to banking?

This is a typical example. The possible right answer would be – being a student of history, I understand the historical aspects of the present economic scenario of our country. India has been subject to exploitation by the foreign powers for centuries its impact is still reflected as widespread illiteracy and poverty in rural areas.

Next question may be asked on financial Inclusion or financial literacy or about a village branch and your working in that branch. They may also put some hypothetical questions.

While it’s bit easy for a students with Management , Commerce and Economics background students to easily correlate their academic background to the banking career, its bit difficult for graduates from History, Geography, Sociology, Literature,Philosophy, Psychology, Home Sciences, Biology, Chemistry And Physics Subjects.

A little bit imagination and creative answers can help to win the heart of the interviewers easily.

  • For example – the student with Geography background would co relate his subject to banking in this way: “Our country is 7th largest country in the world and second largest by population. The geographical distribution of population is uneven and so is banking. While there are good banking facilities available in the bigger towns and cities, villages still lack of the basic banking services. “
  • A student with sociology background can easily correlate the banking to his / her academic career by giving an example of social & cultural diversity and demographic distribution in the country.
  • A science student can correlate his own academic subjects with banking by mentioning the impact of the information technology & science on banking. A psychology student can correlate his / her subject by discussing about the customer service, customer profiles etc.

  • Typical Question: Are you joining the bank for a Job security?
    This is a common question. Of course everybody knows that bank jobs are secure jobs today, yet to tell the interviewer directly that you are joining the bank for a job security would leave a negative imprint. Tell that apart from a secure job, you are looking for a challenging job profile which makes you integral part of the growing financial system of the country.
  • Typical Question: Will you join if you are appointed to serve in a remote village branch?
    This is a very common question, mostly asked from Girls / ladies/ married people. The answer has to be YES in any case, as any ifs and buts will give a negative impression. In most cases this question is asked to judge your adaptability.

The best answer would be : Yes, I am ready to join a village branch because it will give me more responsibilities and work experience.

If you are married, you will be further told that you will have to leave your family will that affect you. Your response has to be: Yes it will affect, but for me my career is more important and after all i am doing for the sake of my family.

  • Handling Hypothetical Questions:
    Sometimes a hypothetical situation is given to you and the interviewer may ask you to suggest a strategy. These types of questions may be related to social and political problems of the country as a whole. For example they may ask you
    -What is Naxalism and how to get rid of Naxalism,
    -how to achieve 100% financial inclusion
    -How to end terrorism
    -How to make India corruption free
    -How to make people financially literate
    -How to eradicate poverty from India
    -How will you compare India and China’s economy?
    -What is America’s role in India’s politics / economy?
    -What will be your role to bring more business to your branch?
    -How you will improve the marketing strategies of your bank?
    the list is endless…..
  • The questions depend upon the mood of the interviewer and also the background, attitude of the candidate. Please note that for clerical posts, there are more direct questions, for Managerial Jobs the number of hypothetical questions may be more.
  • How to Handle Such Questions?
    The examiner does not expect a solution of a socio economic problem. These are ubiquitous problems and even the political powers are unable to solve them. However the idea of the interviewer is to judge your depth of current affairs knowledge and your perception / opinion about the socioeconomic conditions.
  • How to make your own OPINION on socio economic issues?
    The people who regularly read newspapers, particularly editorials & columns can express their opinions about the social and economic issues. However if you don’t find it suitable to read editorials and columns then here is a short cut trick to develop your opinion:

    Every news paper has a “Readers Letters” column on its editorial page. Choose a Newspaper with more number of “Readers Letters”. Just go through all “Readers Letters” everyday and you will easily develop your own opinion by reading other people’s opinion about a particular topic

  • Typical Question: Introduce yourself / Tell something about yourself?
    You have to tell your name and place where you live. Your last degree/ job. You may also mention your university / college and your last company where you worked. You may or may not mention your family background. No need to tell your date of birth.
  • Your Family Background:
    This question may or may not be asked. Sometimes they ask you to judge your social and cultural values, dislocation on appointment or promotion, problems of growing children if you are married, serving wife, parents who are old and need care.
    If any of your parents / siblings is in Service Industry, you must mention. If nobody from services background and you belong to a moderate business family, tell them briefly about your family business.
  • Please Note:
    You have to be careful about your family business because next question may be – why don’t you join your family business? A responsible and just answer is expected. If you exaggerate about your own business and give an impression that you are from a rich family – it will be a negative imprint. They don’t hire people with expensive habits.
  • Why do you want to Join Banking Sector?
    Don’t tell them that you are looking for a safe job. Mention that it is a challenging industry, one of the fastest growing sector. Talk about India’s recent trends in Banking.
  • Why you want to shift your job?
    If you are already in a job, you may expect this question. The answer may vary from person to person, but you should not complain about your past job, your past boss or company. If you are in sales, don’t tell them that you don’t enjoy field job. They look for ambitious people and so tell them that your ambitions can be fulfilled in banking industry. Tell them that your past job was not challenging and was a mere typical 10 to 5 job which you did not like.
  • Your Strengths And Weaknesses?
    While you are free to mention any of your strengths including you being a adventure lover, bold, extrovert, sociable and its easy for you to win friends, be careful about your weaknesses. Tell a weakness that indicates a strength. For example, you mention that office politics makes you nervous and reduces your productivity. Mention that you cannot work without pressure. You need pressure to work more. Good food may be your weakness which does not affect your professional life. If you have some weakness which may affect your job, you will not be hired. Never discuss about addictions if you have any.
  • Why You Should Be Selected And What If Not Selected?
    You have to tell them that you prepared honestly for your selection and confident of your success. You should be selected because you have sincerely done your duty to prepare for the written exam and clear it with your own perseverance.
    If not selected? Tell them that you are going to reappear in the exam with more confidence.
  • What will be your Reaction if selected / not selected?
    If selected you will be happiest person because you are going to join a professional organization. Don’t tell them directly, what you will do if not selected. Mention that you are 100 % confident about your success. if the interviewer persists on your not getting selected tell him , that you will again prepare and re appear whenever a similar vacancy exists in this bank or another bank because you have finally decided to join Banking sector only.
  • How did you prepare for this interview?
    Tell them that you prepared reading various newspapers, books. Next question may be about a newspaper / magazine you like.
  • Tackling Hobby Questions:
    Hobby questions must be answered carefully. This is because the hobby related answers always give rise to cross questions. For example if you said that you love listening to music, you MUST know something about the music you love. If you tell them that you love Indian classical music and don’t know about Pandit Jasraj this means you are telling a lie. Similarly, if you tell, reading is your hobbey, you may be asked about particular books you have read. In other words, you should have a general knowledge about your hobby. Further, Its not correct to say that people with outdoor activities as hobbies are preferred.
  • Finally 10 Keys to get Success:
  1. Be confident
  2. Believe in yourself
  3. Put some counter questions if you feel so
  4. Agree or disagree with the interviewer
  5. Be neutral to Sensitive issues
  6. Don’t answer in Hurry
  7. Practice Before Your Interview
  8. Be neutral to political parties /
  9. Be honest with your Country and your countrymen.
  10. Be sincere…Sincere people never fail.

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