This Post is part of the Australian Big 4 Bank Graduate Job Guide series.
Each of the Big 4 Bank Graduate Recruitment programs will have a different name for this part of the process, but in essence they are all aimed at testing the same way.
This part of the process involves you going to an office with a group of other candidates (generally 20-30 in a group) and working on a set of problems/activities as a team. Note the emphasis here. At this stage about 50% of people are culled again, so you are down to about 10-15% of original applicants left if you get through this stage.
At these sessions the recruiters usually take the opportunity to sit you down as a group and play a promotional video to you, then get you to listen to some key-note speakers who will plug their program to you.
The session usually lasts between 1-2 hours plus promotional videos and speeches. You will be sat down at a table with 6-8 other candidates, and be given activities to perform or problems to solve within about 15-30 minutes depending on the length of the total session and the extensiveness of the problem/activity. While you are working on the problem/activity, there will be a bunch of HR people watching you and taking notes. Key things to remember while working through these sessions:
The HR people don’t want you to interact with them while you are working on the problem/activity, they are there to observe you and assess your performance;
The characteristics the HR people are assessing you on are generally more focussed on Team Work and Interaction rather than pure genius. So don’t fret about whether you are right or wrong during this session, rather fret about what Team Work and Interaction skills you are displaying. Try to demonstrate the following characteristics at these sessions:
An ability to lead – if they ask for a volunteer, then be the volunteer. Go first if they ask who will go first, present your team’s work if they ask for a presentation;
Willingness to speak – if you say nothing at these sessions then you can stick a fork in your chances of going to the next round. Make sure you contribute regularly to the discussion and help the team progress;
Team Characteristics – Give other team members positive encouragement. If someone has a good idea, speak up and say “Name, that is a great idea, I think we should try that”. If you disagree with someone either provide logical dispassionate reasoning for it and try to quickly persuade them of your opinion, or else say something like “I have a different opinion, but we need to progress given our time constraint so I am willing to go with your idea” which displays an ability to compromise and work within the confines of the team. Also, a key point, don’t try to bully or harass anyone, and don’t be a control freak. The day isn’t about “winning” arguments, it is about displaying skills.
Listening skills – listen to what your team members have to say. This relates to all the above points.
Creativity – although this isn’t really the emphasis of these sessions, if you are able to come up with a creative response that answers the problem or resolves the activity, good memorable impressions will serve you well with the HR observers.