A View from the Top | Theresa Phua, Human Resources Director, Citibank

By Lisa Cheong


Theresa Phua, Human Resources Director, Citibank

What is one trait you look for in an interview candidate?

Candidates who are driven and passionate about their executive jobs and future often project themselves confidently and are able to better  articulate their achievements and goals. This allows the organisation to better ascertain if the candidate is the right fit for the intended role,  whether it is for accountant jobs or manager posts. Importantly, it also allows the organisation to engage the candidate and find out how his/her  aspirations can be supported by the organisation as well as assess if these are aligned to the growth opportunities and plans that the  organisation has over the long term. Remember that organisations hire for attitude, not just aptitude. Possessing drive and passion are  fundamental to demonstrating a keen and positive attitude. A track record of delivering superior results also highlights the potential that the  candidate possesses for success in the organisation.  

How can candidates impress you  during an interview?
It is always good to be sincere and honest during an interview. It goes a long way towards building rapport with the interviewer and allows both  parties to understand each other better. Achieving this also enables the candidate to learn if he/she can find job satisfaction and fulfillment in the  organisation. At Citi, we are always looking out for areas where we can groom and develop our people and the process of understanding their  needs begin with the interview.    

What is one interview blunder candidates often make during the interview process?
Interviews are excellent opportunities for candidates to find out more about the organisation and its plans ahead. This is of paramount importance  given the direct impact this can have on the candidate’s development and career prospects in the future. When prompted, it would  serve candidates well to maximise the opportunities at an interview and ask questions that would help them understand the culture and ethos of  the organisation, as well as gain information on the role they are applying for. Doing so also signals that the candidate is enthusiastic and keen to  learn more. 

What makes your company a great place to work and what do you like about working at your organisation?
Citi is a dynamic organisation where you get the opportunity to work with the best and brightest in the industry. It is also a place where individual  views are heard and respected regardless of seniority or experience, facilitating the open exchange of ideas. Development opportunities for  each employee are widely available and these can take the form of structured and formalised leadership programs, regular speakers’ series on  career opportunities, or the more than 200 Citi Academy courses that staff can complete at their own time and convenience. Every Citibanker is  therefore empowered to take charge of their learning and developmental needs.  

What is one thing you look out for when sifting through CVs?
At Citi, we value people who have a variety of experiences and a wide range of interests. We believe that people can be equipped and  developed to take on the myriad of opportunities in the organisation as long as they have the right attitude and aptitude. Candidates who have  pushed the boundaries and ventured into different types of work and experiences tend to have accumulated a broad skill-set and possess the  fortitude to learn and grow.

I’ve just joined a new company. How can I make a good impression on my new colleagues and bosses?
Take the time to talk to as many people in the company as possible across levels and functions as this will help expedite your familiarisation with  the company, its culture and its processes.  By communicating with your new colleagues, you will get a feel of how things are done and this will  also enable you to better navigate the organisation. Most importantly, it will allow you to build rapport with your colleagues and bosses and  demonstrate your interest in their work and the organisation. You should also aim to deliver results very quickly so as to establish a good  foundation rapidly and gain a positive footing both with your colleagues and bosses. 

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