The Review — 07/09/2017 at 12:30

15 tricky questions that could stump you in a corporate banking interview (and how to answer them)

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Interviews for relationship manager jobs in corporate banking can be daunting experiences. Get set to be grilled about every aspect of your client relationships, especially how you interact with them and make money from them.

But exactly what interview questions should you expect? Here are 15 that are almost certain to be coming your way.

1. What big names have you brought to your bank?

This is your chance to show off. “If an interviewer is looking for a UK industrials relationship manager, for example, they will want to see that you’ve attracted important names in that space for your current bank,” says an in-house recruiter at a corporate bank in London. “They will be looking to see if you can confidently say ‘yes, I brought in Imperial Tobacco, Croda, Aggreko etc.”

2. How did you win these clients over your competitors?

“The interviewer wants reassurance that you can accomplish the job, so impress them with your track record of success,” says the in-house recruiter. “They want to know how you won a client over competitor banks to see if it’s something you’ll be able to replicate with them. What skills and strengths of yours made this possible? Or did you just have a strong brand name and competitive pricing behind you?”

3. How much revenue did you generate last year?

You will probably be asked this question before you’ve even taken a seat in the interview room. “At this time of economic uncertainty, banks want to ensure they employ a productive RM who’s able to justify their investment,” says Maggie Li, a director at recruiters Executive Access in Hong Kong.

4. And what have you done to achieve your targets so far this year?

An obvious follow-up to the question above – banks want to know about your ongoing performance, not just your track record. “Be very specific on your monthly, quarterly and annual targets and show that you’re matching your bank’s goals,” says Ellen Lai, a manager at recruiters Michael Page. “But don’t just focus on your own billings – talk about clients who you helped to break in and projects you facilitated to maximise the bank’s revenues. Banks are interested in your sales style.”

5. Would you consider yourself a hunter or a farmer?

Unless the job description suggests otherwise, you are advised to describe yourself as a hunter – someone with strong sales skills – rather than a farmer, who merely manages accounts. Say something alone these lines: “I have an independent portfolio of clients that I grew from 10 to 30 in a span of just one year, so I would definitely consider myself a hunter as my strength lies in originating new deals.”

6. How do you build strong relationships with clients?

Hunters and farmers alike need to have a good answer to this question. “Show how you take time to learn everything there is to know about a client and their business needs,” says Nicola McGuane, a consultant at recruiters Morgan McKinley in London. “RMs with the strongest relationships will go the extra mile and also take an interest in clients’ families and their personal interests. Prove how you’ve exceeded expectations to build trust and gain long-term commitment.”

7. Tell us about a key role you’ve played in a major transaction

Interviewers don’t just want to know that you’ve brought big clients to your bank, they want details of the deals you’ve done with them in the meantime. “This question is to see if your can back up your list of clients with real transactions, ideally ones that are well known in the market,” says the in-house recruiter.

8. How strong are your credit skills?

Some RMs jobs require writing your own credit proposals, while in others you will be fully supported. Either way, make sure you can talk in detail about your credit-assessment ability, says Jasmine Tan, an associate director at recruiters Kerry Consulting in Singapore. For example: “During my early career I worked as a credit analyst for three years supporting RMs to write credit papers. This gave me 360-degree knowledge into credit processing and onboarding.”

9. How have ever you managed an entire mandate?

Interviewers will be impressed if you’ve taken a corporate-banking deal from origination to revenue conversion, so come armed with examples. You need to talk through the process step-by-step, explaining how you first listened to the client’s challenges, proposed potential solutions, implemented them and then followed up with the client.

10. How many clients can you bring to us?

Banks obviously like to hire RMs who can transfer some of their portfolio, so emphasise the strength and length of your relationships as evidence that your clients would be happy moving with you. For example: “I’ve worked with mid-tier energy-commodity companies since the start of my career and have an independent book of 20 legacy clients. So yes, I do have a transferable portfolio.”

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