Lockdown Lets German Bankers Get Jobs Without Leaving Home

Job hunting during the coronavirus crisis may be challenging, but it has allowed some people to secure a banking position without ever having to leave home.

Given travel and contact restrictions, some German leaders say they’ve been filling vacant roles solely through video conferencing and other digital means in the past few months.

“That would have been unthinkable back in February,” said Thore Behrens, a partner at Frankfurt-based headhunter Banking Consult.

BayernLB, DZ Bank, and DekaBank -- with combined assets of about $1 trillion -- are among companies in the industry that have recently awarded job contracts without meeting the successful candidate in person. Most of the people that BayernLB has hired this way applied for junior positions, according to Susanne Kober, the head of human resources. Behrens said his firm helped a lender recruit a new board member using only online interviews.

“This is a surprising development, especially for the banking industry, given that it’s a people-to-people business with long-established ways of doing things,” he said. “We’re not talking about startup companies here.”

These new practices extend beyond interviews. At DZ Bank, job candidates who were due to attend in-person assessment centers this spring were instead asked to participate digitally. Candidates had to complete four out of five components at home -- an initial greeting, an online test, a case study, and then an interview. The group exercise was canceled altogether, spokesman Uwe Wulf said.

According to Wulf, digital hiring offers advantages for both employers and prospective employees. While lenders can save money, candidates often find out more quickly whether they’ve got the job, he said.

Most German lenders -- including Deutsche Bank AG -- told staff to work from home earlier this year, making it harder to stick to the usual recruitment protocols. As their employees begin to return to their office desks, some companies may continue to forgo face-to-face meetings when filling certain positions.

“We will decide whether we want to do it this way permanently after evaluating what we have learned,” said Kober.

Sounds likes any banking applicants who don’t already have a decent internet connection may want to invest in one -- along with some smart clothes, of course.

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