We surveyed recent graduates at CommBank to get their inside tips on the graduate program application process.
As one of Australia’s ‘Big Four’ banks and a Top 100 employer, CommBank attracts the best and brightest graduates. So how does it choose the candidates who are most well-suited to entry-level positions? One answer is found in the lengthy application process for graduate positions. As our insiders point out, successful applicants should expect to pass through a series of tests, interviews, and assessments before being offered a position.
"The application included a cover letter, resume and academic transcript; an online set of numerical, logical, and personality tests; a digital video interview with HR; an assessment centre with other prospective hires; and an interview with a manager and someone from HR."
"The application process included submitting the resume online, following by psychometric testing, an online interview (with pre-recorded questions) and finally an assessment centre (which included a group activity and one-on-one interview)."
CommBank is more than 105 years old, and the largest bank in the Southern Hemisphere. Its huge range of business areas, as well as its diverse range of investments, bring the bank into contact with issues in agriculture, finance, technology, health, and a broad range of other industries.
However, your research goal shouldn’t be to become fluent in discussing all of these challenges—that would be impractical. Instead, it’s a good idea to start with basic facts that affect all banking divisions—such as changes in the Reserve Bank’s interest rates, and their implications—before investing your research time into knowing as much as possible about your specific role.
"Research, research, research. Look into the position you wish to apply for, the business unit, and the organisation itself. It's important to see whether the values of the company align with your own. Seek feedback from peers, family members and your university regarding your resume to refine it. Be yourself!"
"Practice, prepare and get to know the company's values and objectives. Understand what is affecting the company in the real world, what they are involved in within the community."
It goes without saying that applicants to CommBank will be required to possess the skills essential to their specific role. However, what if you and another applicant for a software engineering role are equally well qualified? In such case, a recruiter’s decision can often come down to less quantifiable factors, such as one’s personality, soft skills, complementary skills, and willingness to learn. So don’t be shy if you’re asked about your hobbies or passions—think of it instead as a valuable opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
"They should try and showcase their talents and personality, rather than trying to fit a mould they think the company wants. CommBank can train them for technical skills; they should focus on un-trainable skills."
"Be yourself. An honest person who does the right thing and sometimes stumbles will always be more appreciated than someone who bolsters their way through with overconfidence."
Our insiders rate CommBank’s culture as one of its most appealing features, with mentoring programs, social activities, and accessible managers creating an atmosphere focused on teamwork and camaraderie. You can use your application as an opportunity to discuss what you can contribute to our culture —if ever you’re going to draw upon, say, your enthusiastic participation in a university French society, this is the time to do it.
"Best culture ever! After work drinks on a Friday, monthly team building events, monthly training sessions, monthly workshops to share projects, buddy system, strategy community brown bags, the list goes on. All levels of the hierarchy are very approachable and supportive of our development."
"Culture is great here at my workplace. Colleagues are willing to drop their work to help you out - which is great as a newbie when you have lots of questions. Our social club provides an opportunity to socialise after hours (and 5pm on a Friday - which is also casual day which generally includes fundraising for various charities)."
CommBank has more than 50,000 employees, and one way it ensures they all work towards a set of common goals is through the promotion of their purpose and values. Some of our insiders suggested researching the bank’s values before thinking of examples from your own experience of times when you’ve put those values into action.
"Gather examples of how you demonstrate different qualities the company might be looking for (e.g. leadership, working through a problem, team work, and prioritization). Place the examples into STAR format. If you have a technical interview, look at technical interview questions and practice your coding."
NB: STAR, in this context, stands for situation, task, action, and result. In other words, when preparing examples for an application or interview, ask yourself: what was the situation? What was I required to do? Which steps did I take? What was the result?
Ali Petersen, manager of CommBank’s Campus Acquisition team, has been involved in graduate recruiting for a while now. Here are some of her suggestions for landing a graduate job in the industry.
Make sure you understand the industry and area where you are applying. The most common question I get asked is “How do I make my application stand out?” Use your research to show how you align to the organisation.
The interview is a long time to be someone you aren’t. Don’t get hung up on trying to say what you think an interviewer wants to hear – just be yourself.
Allow plenty of time to complete applications; keep an eye on the deadlines. Late applications aren’t accepted.
Target your resources to maximise your efforts. A good application takes a couple of hours to write so spend your time wisely – only apply for the organisations you really identify with.
Let us know who you are. Tell us about your passions, which don’t need to be directly related to the position you’re applying for. The key is to let people know what you care about, whether it is sports, charity work or painting.
Work out what you have achieved and the skills you have gained. How could they be transferred to another situation? Be able to articulate this clearly and succinctly.
When it comes to the online assessment process, do as many practice tests as possible before undertaking the real one. This will help you feel more relaxed and allow you to do your best.
Resist the urge to exaggerate your experience or skills on your resume; the truth will become obvious rather quickly during an interview.
Always get someone else to proofread your resume and application before submitting them and ensure your application is addressed to the correct company.
We hire for potential.