Are you looking to move into the Banking Domain as a Business Analyst?
If so, you’d be interested to know what kind of banking domain interview questions will be asked of a Banking BA.
This is also incidentally one of the most common questions the visitors to my website ask. Each week I get at least 5 to six queries from readers about how one can “get up to speed” about banking so that they can sound credible in an interview with a prospective employer.
It’s easy to see why. If you apply for a Banking BA job at a bank, consulting firm or vendor firm, it definitely does not look good if you can’t answer basic questions about banking.
Common questions (and answers) which trip up candidates:
Interviewer: What kinds of banking channels do you have experience in?
Candidate: Can I check, what do you mean by channels?
Interviewer: Can you suggest some ways a bank can improve its revenues?
Candidate: Perhaps they can offer better deposit products to customers.
The answers above complete discredit the interviewee and are no-nos in any banking job interviewer.
Like I always say to my readers, it pays to read up and learn about banking. The knowledge pays for itself many times over in your career, should you choose to enter the banking or financial services industry.
Seriously – you should not be over confident on these things and sound silly in front of the interviewer. The banking circle is also quite closed – if you mess up at two or three banks, you may get your name blacklisted in the industry
Make sure you put in some effort to understand some banking basics before going to the interview. The interviewer has limited time and you should show respect to him or her by giving your best and prepare for the interview beforehand.
Ok, let’s get into the content proper. In this article, we’ll look at five common questions that Business Analysts may get asked when they’re applying for a banking related position.
1. My Matrix of Business Analyst vs. Banking Industry Skills
Before we delve into list of banking domain interview questions, let’ understand your profile a bit better.
The diagram below shows a matrix of Business Analyst vs. Banking Industry Skills. We can categorize your profile into any one of the four quadrants.
There are four quadrants in the matrix:
- Quadrant 1: New Entrants
- Quadrant 2: Strong Business Analysts
- Quadrant 3: Strong Banking Domain
- Quadrant 4: Strong Players
Let me explain each of these quadrants in turn.
Quadrant 1: New Entrants
If you belong to this quadrant, you have low levels of Business Analyst skills and Banking Industry skills. You’d find it tough to position yourself into a Banking BA job role, as you may not have profession, solution or industry skills.
Quadrant 2: Strong Business Analysts
If you belong to this quadrant, you have high levels of Business Analyst skills and but lower levels of Banking Industry skills.
You’re basically very strong in BA techniques such as strategy formulation, business cases, business process analysis and system requirements analysis, as well as change management.
If you’re in this quadrant, I’d suggest you play up your BA skills and even acknowledge that you have lower levels of understanding of the banking domain, but will make up for it through your BA and solutioning skills.
Quadrant 3: Strong Banking Domain
Ok, next up … if you’re in Quadrant 3, you will have strong banking domain skills but may be weaker in Business Analyst skills.
What’s useful here is for you to leverage your banking industry skills – focus on your knowledge of banking processes and operating models, from front to back office. Employers, especially banks, will be very happy you have the requisite industry skills.
However, you should beef up your business analyst skills so that you can effectively run and facilitate workshops, gather requirements, set business strategy and tone, as well as define programs of work and their associate plans.
You can check out some good BA training material and articles over here.
Quadrant 4: Strong Players
Finally, if you’re in Quadrant 4, you’re strong in both Business Analysis and also the banking domain. That’s great! You will have a good chance of answering the interview questions well and securing the job.
However, you should not be overly confident. Continue to prepare for the interview well – remember that interview questions may not center around your technical skills.
The employer may well ask about your “soft” skills, e.g. the ability to influence and negotiate, or lead others. So be prepared for those conversations too.
I also present simple frameworks to give you a broad perspective into banks' business models, customers, distribution channels and operations. Check it out here.
2. Business Analyst Banking Domain Interview Questions
Ok, with our matrix explained and out of the way, let’s look at the top five BA banking domain interview questions I often see asked in job interviews.
Question 1: Why Join the Banking Domain?
Most employers will ask you this question if you’ve not worked in the banking industry before.
My take on this question is that you need to demonstrate an interest in specific parts of banking, or describe an actual experience where you learnt more about banking and how it triggered you to find out more.
Some examples may include:
- A relative or friend who works in banking told you about what he or she does and that got you interested in banking.
- You took a part-time job or interned at a bank and was curious about how a particular bank of the bank worked.
- You’ve received exceptional customer service from a leading bank and were intrigued or impressed by the way they run the bank – and that got you interested in banking as a career.
My answer was that I had done projects in financial services firms before in my previous job as an IT consultant and found that banks were at the forefront of technological innovation.For example, DBS Bank in Singapore is well known to be one of the top digital banks in Asia.Working in a bank allows me to implement cutting edge technology solutions that make a real, positive impact on the bank’s customers.
Question 2: Which area of banking are you interested in?
This is another common question for employers to test if you’ve read up (and are serious) about which part of banking you want to work in.
I mean, if you say you’re interested in banking, but can’t elaborate on which specific banking skills you want to develop, you’ll come across as not being very genuine.
Trust me, interviewers can tell whether you’re a genuine applicant or not.
If you’ve done your homework in some aspect of banking, e.g. you say you’re interested in Private Banking digital innovation, or Investment Banking operations – then to me that comes across as a solid proposition. It also shows you’ve done your research and are clear about what you want.
Question 3: Have you worked in the industry before?
Well, for those who have not worked in banking before, the correct answer is to say “no”.
And if you’ve done some bits of banking work before – be sure to mention it (no matter how small – it could be a little internship or part-time job).
Be sure you add on and say that you’re willing to learn, and that you can leverage your transferable skills into the banking job you’re applying for.
Let me give you some examples:
- Scenario 1: You’re a Business Analyst who has worked in the pharmaceutical industry before (but not in banking).
- Scenario 2: You’re an IT architect but have worked on architecture design of banking systems
- Scenario 3: You’ve interned at a leading bank before and prepared structured product documentation for the bank
For Scenario 1, I’d say mention your transferable BA skills, e.g. structured analysis, workshop facilitation and stakeholder engagement – and how these can be used in a banking project.
For Scenario 2, focus on your IT architecture and design skills, e.g. principles of software re-use, modular code design and single views of customer data – all these are easily transferable from one industry domain to another.
For Scenario 3, mention that you learnt a lot about structured products and go ahead to talk about what the internship was like.
However, do be careful – going on at length about internships may bore the interviewer. So be sure to keep descriptions short and brief. Focus on the contribution you may to the bank.
And if you’re a senior mid-career applicant, you should not talk about internships so much – focus more on other bigger career experiences you’ve undergone.
Question 4: I’m not looking for someone with deep banking skills – that can be picked up over time. What are your areas of deep expertise, e.g. are you strong in IT architecture, data analytics, accounting?
Here’s where I keep stressing you need to be very clear about your value proposition to the employer. What are your unique capabilities?
Practice articulating your value proposition so that you can almost hone it into a 30-second elevator pitch.
If you’re not clear about your personal brand and value proposition, it’s useful to think of the industry, solution and profession are you engaged in.
- What is your industry focus? Which part of banking – retail, commercial, private or investment banking?
- What solution areas do you specialize in? Data analytics? Machine learning? Robotic process automation?
- What profession do you specialize in? Project management, business analysis, etc.?
Question 5: What do you do in your spare time?
This is an important “soft skills” question. These days, more and more employers are looking for soft skills in their job candidates.
How you lead a team. How you handle negotiations. How you resolve conflicts. And also how you have fun, what special hobbies you may have.
Whilst there are no right answers to this question, I’d say it is always good to come prepared with a couple of data points around what you do in your spare time. Preferably not things like watching TV or reading – but things which are more impactful and really make a different to the world.
- Volunteering at an old folks’ home
- Raising some funds for someone in need
- Traveling to Cambodia to build a school for the poor
- Building up a side business in a special hobby area, e.g. toys, art, musical instruments
- Bringing rice and meals to the needy every Sunday
Of course, you should say only the stuff you really did. Don’t invent something “noble” and say you did it. Only talk about stuff you’ve done. Employers can tell if you’re lying.
Ok, so we’ve gone through quite a bit of material about the top five Business Analyst banking domain interview questions employers may ask.
It pays to understand where you are in the BA vs. Industry skills matrix which I described above. Once you know where you belong, take action to beef up your knowledge and fill the gaps.
Then think about the interview questions I’ve highlighted above and jot down some of the answers you’ll need to talk about when meeting your interviewer.
It also always pays to rehearse your responses a little.
Remember – treat the interview with respect. Don’t assume you can answer stuff on the spot. I can bet you that the other candidates will try to do whatever they can to clinch the job – so you should be prepared as well.
Best of luck in your job interview and may you clinch your dream Banking BA job!
Box. P.S. If you’re interested in Banking BA role, do check out my guidelines here. You’ll learn a ton of content about how you can prepare yourself for being a Banking BA and how to excel at the job.
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