Here's how a JPMorgan recruiter describes his 'perfect candidate'

LONDON — There’s more than one first rung on the JPMorgan career ladder.

While most will take the graduate route, from summer analyst and beyond, a handful will start as apprentices.

The US investment bank started its financial services apprenticeship scheme in Bournemouth in 2013 and is expanding it to London this year, with the deadline for applications closing at the end of the month.

The 18-month scheme is for post-sixth form or college students and offers a paid posting and training. The pay is £15,000 in Bournemouth and £21,000 in London.

Almost every apprentice took a full time role at the bank in the last intake, once the programme finished. And so competition is fierce, and getting fiercer — the number of applications has grown 20-fold in the time the program has been running with some travelling 250 miles to secure a place.

So, with that level of competition in mind, we asked Phill Paige, head of early careers, what he looks for in standout candidates.

“If I could design my ideal candidate, they would show me that they really want to work at JPMorgan,” said Paige.

“Motivation is really important and that’s why we have some of the other feeder programs, like work experience or the Summer School, because that will flag up that they’re in the system and that demonstrates interest over a period of time. That’s a good start.”

“Of course, there’s only a finite number of places so if they haven’t been able to do that then we look at people who can show they have done really great research,” he said.

We’re always going to be looking for great problem solving skills, being good in the team and strong communicators,”

“So one of the assessments we do is to a Q&A with current apprentices and get the candidates to ask them questions, anything they like about their experiences or the programme. And we’re looking to see who is asking some really insightful questions, maybe they’re bringing in information from current affairs, maybe they have done some homework on the history of the firm and how it’s developed,” Paige said.

Candidates have to jump the academic hurdle of three Cs at A-level, in any subjects, but once they do so, it comes down to how well they can demonstrate their qualities at the assessment centre.

“We’ve got quite a rigorous selection process in place and there are several stages. Interviews, group exercises, a big networking session and we use video interviews now too. When we meet the candidates at the assessment stage, we tell them that these are just opportunities to show us what they have got,” said Paige.

“Anything that shows motivation is a big tick in the box. They must show they’re keen to learn and flexible and be able to take the learning we’re giving them and apply it to the workplace,” Paige said.

“Other than that, we’re looking at qualities that are more similar to the graduate programme. We’re always going to be looking for great problem solving skills, being good in the team and strong communicators,” he added.

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