Flourish in Finance

Jaideep Patel speaks to Thana Manickam, Application Specialist at Scope International on what it takes for graduates to thrive in a financial institution.
Jaideep Patel
Publisher, gradmalaysia.com
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At first glance, working in the banking sector may seem to be like working in any other sector. While there are similarities (dressing up in formal wear every single day is one of them) there are a few things that make this industry unique. Chief amongst them is the need for effective and efficient financial governance, as well as compliance to regulations: some of which, such as the Foreign Exchange Administration (FEA) policies, seem to get increasingly tighter by the day.

Well, it’s not all doom and gloom, as Thana, our interviewee for the day, cheerfully pointed out.

What are the qualities that matter to you the most when hiring fresh graduates?

It would have to be the first impression. Sometimes I feel like I’m quite hasty when it comes to deciding whether I like (or dislike) someone based on their first impression, such as their general appearance and body language including eye contact. But that’s just how I am, I guess. More often than not, my suspicions are well-placed.

Would you still proceed with interviewing candidates if their first impression is lacking?

Yes, I would still go ahead with interviewing them even if I find their first impression to be lacking. However, at the back of my mind, I wouldn’t be interested in hiring the candidate. I will have this nagging feeling of already being let down.

One other thing I pay close attention to and value highly is the research the candidate has done on the position he or she has applied for. They should know what the job demands and show their interest in it. Please don’t ever say ‘Oh I just saw the job online and applied for it’. You need to convince the recruiter that you are the right person for the job, and that you are really hungry to get hired. If a candidate lacks in the first impression department, then this can be a major redeeming factor.

Is it OK to ask about the job tasks during the interview?

Yes, definitely. But please do your research on the job first, and get to know all you can about the company’s history, objective and so on. If you’ve done your research, you surely have the right to ask more about the job during the interview. Interviewers – myself included – like candidates who ask a lot of questions. A word of caution: don’t ask about the salary upfront because it will make you sound greedy. Let the interviewer bring the money matters up.

What can a fresh graduate expect working in Scope International?

Opportunities! I think there are a lot of ‘second chances’ here. If you happen to be offered a job here but don’t find your role interesting, there are plenty of departments within the organisation for you to move around. There’s a lot of mobility and flexibility, as well as work-life balance.

On top of that, there’s ample international interaction. Although it largely depends on the project you are handling and the country you are supporting, there will be opportunities to travel.

Any last words of advice for our gradmalaysia.com readers?

The banking industry in Malaysia may seem like a big pond, but recruiters know one another. So don’t make it a habit to job-hop between banks. Fresh graduates should consider staying in their first jobs for a minimum of one year, and learning from that experience. This also involves dealing with difficult people, which is quite the task sometimes!