Branch manager sounds cool, doesn’t it? The classy job title attracts a lot of people. More often than not, you will compete with a dozen other job seekers in your interview (or even with more). You should prepare for a long interview session, consisting mostly in screening and situational (behavioral) questions. Some technical questions and a personality test can sometimes catch you off-guard, but you won’t necessarily deal with them in your interview. Let’s have a look at the questions you may face.
Why do you want to work as a branch manager?
The obvious reason is the salary, a great job where you can both learn a lot and do a lot, and perhaps also a prestige that comes with this position. However, you should relate to different things in your interview answer. Actually you have a few good options.
One is telling them a story—story of your education and experience, of your career plan, your life story in short, where branch manager is the next step, one you arrived to right now, at this moment of your professional career. Second one consists in connecting your skills and abilities (and relevant working experience, if you have it) to the job, explaining the value you can bring to their bank as a new branch manager.
Last one is more about the field of work—a bank, or a retail store, saying that you always had passion for finance and banking, and always wanted to work in the field, and that’s why you opted for a job of a branch manager, and not for some other managerial position. One way or another, they should feel that you honestly want to work as a branch manager, that this isn’t just another interview for you, one of many.
I’ve been planning to get this job for a long time. Have friends who work as branch managers in retail, and I believe to have a good knowledge of what is expected from an excellent manager. I like the responsibility, but also the opportunities this job presents, when one can change something for the employees, the customers, but also for the employer. That’s why I opted for a degree in management, and worked a lot on my leadership skills and knowledge of the finance market, studying books, attending webinars. Now I feel ready to make the next step and start the job.
How do you imagine a typical day in work?
The key is to show proactive approach to work. Of course, all of us know managers who never leave their comfy offices, waiting for a call, or for a big problem to erupt in the workplace. You have to present a completely different attitude if you want to succeed in this interview, however.
Say that you plan to spend most of your day on the sales floor, observing the situation in the branch, giving advice to employees, helping them, or even serving customers.
Just some part of your day (and typically a smaller one) should be devoted to administrative work, to planning and reporting, etc.
Another alternative is saying that there’s isn’t anything like a typical day in this job. True, some days you may lead interviews, other days focus on orientation, sales training, and if two of your tellers get sick simultaneously, you may take the chair of one of them in the peak time, serving customers as a teller. Days are completely different at the end of the month or quarter, and you may spend a lot of time analyzing data, reporting, planing and forecasting during these days. One way of another, they should feel that you like to take initiative, and don’t wait for someone to always tell you what to do.
I imagine spending most of my days on the sales floor, ensuring that everything works smoothly, allocating resources on the go, and instructing and managing employees.
Surely, in a quiet time (if there’s any such in your branch), I’d be likely working on some planning and reporting, dealing with problems and issue such as complaints or bad results. I also imagine representing our branch in meetings with business partners and VIP clients. Anyway, I am sure I’ll have my hands full, and look forward to the variety that this job presents.
What do you want to accomplish while managing this brand?
You shouldn’t speak primarily about your personal accomplishments (though achieving something great for your employer will typically translate into nice perks for yourself, such as promotion, or a hefty bonus at the end of the year). Try to speak about things you want to achieve for the business.
You can achieve a lot of things as a branch manager. Increasing sales revenues and profits (that’s no. one and all interviewers love to hear that), improving the level of customer satisfaction, or employee loyalty, bringing out the best of each staff member on an ongoing basis, improving the reputation of the brand (or at least a branch) in the eyes of the public, etc.
One way or another, the interviewers should feel that you do not go to work only to earn money, but actually try to accomplish something with your everyday activity.
I did my research and I know that you struggle a lot with employees, and also with customer retention. I hope to manage the branch in a better way, implementing new strategies for both employee training and for improving the customer loyalty. At the end of the day if I have this job for a long time—which I hope will happen (if you hire me), I am sure that we’ll have to overcome many challenges, and that they will change over the years. I hope to help this branch become as successful as it can be, bearing in mind the given market conditions and limitations.
How do you go about hiring new staff? What criteria do you set for your new employees?
Depending on your place of work, you may be responsible for the entire recruitment process, or for leading the interviews (or just participating in the panel). And while you will typically get an interview template from the bank central (with the questions you should ask, if we speak about banking branch management), you will be given some freedom when choosing the best employees for your team.
First of all, do not panic when you hear the question. Leading an interview is much easier than succeeding in one :). You can say that you will always consider the existing team, and whether the new person will fit in, as well as their attitude to work, motivation, and skills. Behavioral and situational questions will help you a lot. If you hired employees before (in one of your previous jobs), you can narrate the experience.
Another important thing to remember (and mention) is that you are also selling something in an interview—the job opportunity, the reputation of the company, your qualities as a manager and a leader of the branch. Say that you will always try to lead the interviews in a professional and friendly manner, to ensure that the best candidates will be interested in the job also after the interviews.
I understand that job hopping rates are quite high in banking, and we will have to hire someone new each year. The key is to have the numbers in our mind, to plan the recruitment calendar properly, and advertise job offers early enough, to build a good pool of candidates.
I am sure that you have some excellent interview templates for all entry level roles in an a bank branch, and that I will also get some training on how to lead the interviews. When doing so, however, it is important to consider the motivation and attitude to work of a given applicant, as well as their sales and communication skills, and whether they’d fit the existing team. I believe that with the help of right questions, and perhaps even with a role play (to test their sales skills), I’ll be able to do it. What many managers forget about is presenting the company and the job opportunity in the most appropriate way, so the candidate can see the things they’d gain while working for us. A candidate can also say NO at the end of the interview, and we should do our best to present the offer and the bank in a best possible light.
In what areas do you consider our bank (company) superior to our competitors?
The difficulty of this question depends on your future place of work. If you apply with one of the leading players, the answer is easy and obvious. They have the biggest network of bank branches, typically an excellent reputation, and offer an unbelievable variety of products for both retail and business customers. In this, and perhaps also in their training programs and employee benefits, they are superior to their competitors—and you should say so in an interview, since everyone loves to hear words of praise.
But what to do if you apply in a smaller institution, or in a bank that is not doing well at the moment?
You will have to do some research in this case (if you haven’t done it yet). In fact, each and every bank has some competitive advantage, otherwise they’d be out of business… It’s just about finding the advantage.
Smaller players typically charge lower fees, or even run clients’ accounts for free. Some smaller banks specialize in a particular market segment, offering something others do not. And they tend to implement innovations early, since it is always easier to move forward with a substantial change in a comparatively smaller bank. Do your research, pick an advantage, and offer some words of praise to your interviewers.
Well, this is the biggest bank in the country, in terms of number of customers, and also in terms of market capitalization. Your numbers speak for your superiority, and I am not sure if there’s anything to add. I would say you are superior in almost everything, you have the best people working for you, since you can afford to pay them, and you have a product for every customer and every possible situation people can experience in life. In this you are superior to your competitors. Size matters, at least in banking.
Other personal, behavioral and technical questions you may face in your branch manager interview
- What do you consider your greatest weakness as a manager?
- Why should we hire you, and not one of the other applicants?
- How would you establish a good rapport with new and existing clients in the area?
- How would ensure to comply with all regulations and applicable laws?
- Describe a situation when you struggled to communicate something to one of your sub-ordinates. What did you do to get your message over?
- What information would you use to forecast sales revenues of the new branch?
- Imagine that we gave you a key from our new banking branch. You were the first and only employee of the branch. What steps would you take to ensure that the branch did run as soon as possible? How would you progress?
- How would you motivate your subordinates in the branch, without offering them a raise, or any other form of financial compensation?
- What do you consider the main challenges you will face when leading the branch of our bank? Describe how you’ll address such a challenge.
Personality and IQ tests, conclusion, answers to all 25 questions
In some cases you may deal with a personality test, and sometimes also with an IQ test in this interview. However, there isn’t really a way to prepare for the tests in advance. Focus on things you can prepare for, things you can control–your interview answers.
Success in an interview (or a failure) is not a question of luck. The better you prepare for your interview, the greater your chances to succeed will be. If you are not sure how to answer the questions, or experience anxiety before your interview, you can have a look at an eBook I wrote, the Branch Manager Interview Guide (published in 2020, updated in 2022).
Multiple great answers to 25 most common branch manager interview questions will help you streamline your interview preparation, and eventually outclass your competitors in an interview and get this great job. You will find some sample answers directly on the product page, so it makes sense to check it out even if you do not plan to purchase anything. Thank you, and good luck!
Matthew Chulaw, your personal interview coach
* You can also download the list of questions in a one page long .PDF, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later, even when offline:
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- Interview questions for managerial jobs – Questions and answers for different job titles in management.