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‘If you are preparing for government examinations, do not fear the interview round’

An alumni of Apeejay School, Charkhi Dadri, Vaibhav Sharma is a SBI Probation Officer. In an interview, he talks about how the decentralisation of banks is the next big thing for India and gives preparation tips for Bank PO aspirants

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At 23, Vaibhav Sharma is soon to start working as a Probation Officer in the prestigious State Bank of India (SBI), an Indian multinational public sector bank and financial services statutory body. His mantra for cracking the Bank PO examinations? Time management and accuracy! Read onas he shares more about his educational journey, inspiration and aspiration while stepping into the banking sector of India in an interview. Edited excerpts: 

Please tell us about your educational journey.

I studied at Apeejay School, Charkhi Dadri, Haryana throughout my schooling years and graduated from there in 2016. After that, I pursued an undergraduate degree in Physics at Ramjas College, University of Delhi till 2019. I started preparing for the Bank PO exams right after and cleared it in 2021.

After pursuing a degree in Physics, why did you go for a banking field?

During my college years, I helped organise an Open Cricket Tournament at campus. My role was of a Treasurer – to look at the finances and budget of the event. During that time, I realised that I have a finance-based acumen, and hence, I decided to give Bank PO exams a shot.

Bank PO jobs seem to be quite popular with college students. So, how did you prepare for the exam?

Yes, many people prepare for these papers each year. I think, besides Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examinations, these are the second most popular among students. Those who have a knack for the financial and banking sector attempt to clear the Bank PO papers and acquire a good position in government banks. There are two kinds of banking examinations: IBPS PO and SBI PO. I qualified both but opted for SBI PO.  

The exam pattern for both these have three stages: Prelims, Mains and Interview. Prelims is a one-hour paper which tests Quantitative Ability, English and Reasoning of the candidate. There are, of course, several coaching institutes across India to seek help from. I did self-study at home to prepare. I feel that Prelims is not that tough a paper but Mains were challenging for me. The Mains consist of Reasoning, Quantitative Ability and General Awareness. It is a three-hour paper coupled with Essay and Letter writing. Once a candidate qualifies these, the final selection takes place after an Interview round with a five-member panel consisting one Chief General Manager and four assistant General Managers. During my interview, I was made very comfortable by the panel and they ensured I wasn’t too nervous. They tested my subject knowledge and banking know-how.

What did your daily schedule look like during your preparation days?

For the Prelims, I used to wake up around 7 or 8 in the morning and read the newspapers for two hours. After that, I used to start my studies and focused on my weaker areas, first. I attempted many mock tests in a day to test my preparedness. In the evenings, I played table tennis to give myself a break. During the Mains preparation, I would attempt two papers a day for three hours each. Alongside, I planned to read the newspapers and practiced essay and letter writing. My parents guided me a lot at that time and were strong pillars of support for me.  

What are your best memories of Apeejay School, Charkhi Dadri?

I was the recipient of the Dr. Stya Paul Award for Human Values at school. That day sure left a deep impression on my memory. My mother teaches English in the school, and so the place has always been my support system and comfort zone. My friends circle from there has been motivating. I received a lot of exposure during my school years and also became the Vice-Captain. I would say that Apeejay inculcates good values and upbringing in students and that has helped me a lot.

The competition in the banking sector due to privatisation is huge. What is your view?

In the coming years, several government banks would be looking at mergers. So, it can be managed. In my view, SBI is currently the best in terms of banking in India, which is why I chose it.

What could be some up and coming trends in Indian banking systems?

Privatisation of banks is foremost. There would be an increase in digital transactions too. Indian banks are providing the best of services to their customers and going forward, services would surely expand. Government banks are looking to open up many branches in rural parts of India to decentralise the system. This would be very helpful for our citizens. Earlier, an executive from a big branch of a bank would visit rural areas to educate them. However, this dependency will be reduced, given that more and more people are becoming aware about safe and easy financial transactions.  

You live in Charkhi Dadri, Haryana. How are the banking services there?

In 2016, Charkhi Dadri was given the status of a district. Since that time, there has been a lot of development in the area. We currently have two SBI branches here and a few private banks as well. In this district, around 80 villages are covered and most of the families come to Charkhi Dadri for banking services. Many of my friends and their families even have Demat accounts too and they trade in the share market.

Your tips for Bank PO aspirants?

To crack the papers, time management and accuracy is crucial. Try to attempt a question in a minute and select your questions wisely. Attempt only those you are sure of. For Mains, rely on your knowledge and present it well. Work on your linguistic and writing ability. 

Mrini Devnani is a Senior Correspondent and Marketing Coordinator at Newsroom. She covers student achievements, interviews and contributions for the website. She was a former Correspondent covering Edutech for the India Today Group, and has passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing. You can reach her at [email protected]

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