How to Get a Banking Job with Only a Barista Past
Woman making coffee in restaurant smiling

Great, you’ve completed your degree, gotten a good GPA score and now you’re looking for a full-time banking job in Singapore. You walk into the interview room, confident with your score, handshake and even your shoes, until the interviewer asks you a very depressing question, “Do you have much relevant experience in this field?” You get taken aback for a second, reminiscing the long hours mugging for tests in the library and endless weeks of project work with classmates. There was no work experience that was relevant to the banking and finance industry that you had.

Before you answer the interviewer with a demoralizing “no,” check back if you had any part-time jobs or involvement with student clubs that might bolster your chances of getting hired. No matter what kind of job role you previously held in your school days, they can be directly translated into a personal asset – one that your banking and finance interviewer will be interested to know about.

If you’ve worked part-time, freelance or full-time during your school days – be it a store assistant, barista, event promoter or even a tutor or hired private investigator – those experiences can be useful to your current job application in banking. You simply need to know what the bank’s competencies are, why they’re important to the organization, and how your previous work experience can relate to them! Use your work experience to your advantage and stand out. Sometimes, being too generic or cliché may cause your interviewer to waive your application away.

Here’s how you can spin your non-finance previous jobs to your advantage:

Your past work experience: Customer Service, F&B, Call centre etc.

Emphasize on this: CLIENT ORIENTATION

Remind interviewer of any of these points:

  • You were able to handle customers satisfactorily, even on a busy day
  • You solved problems on the floor, and on your feet
  • You were able to turn upset customers into loyal fans of the establishment (if you had an example of this)

Your past work experience: Event Promotion, Sales, Organiser at your School Club/Association

Emphasize on this: TEAMWORK

  • Remind interviewer of any of these points:
  • You played an active role in a team to organize a certain event(s) successfully
  • How you boost team morale or stuck together as a loyal team during problems
  • How you would go above and beyond your job role to ensure work done smoothly

Your past work experience: Sales, Marketing, Inter-school Competitions, Participation in your School Club/Association

Emphasize on this: INNOVATION

Remind interviewer of any of these points:

  • You created innovative solutions to boost membership/sales/results
  • Mention any modifications that you made that had beneficial results
  • Tell of how you manage to outthink your competition

Your past work experience: Sales, F&B, Logistics, Sports


Remind interviewer of any of these points:

  • Tell interviewer of how you juggled tough work successfully
  • Mention incidences where you were a calming presence even under pressure
  • What kind of obstacles did you have to overcome to reach your goals?

Your past work experience: Sales, Logistics, Sports, Participation in your School Club/Association


Remind interviewer of any of these points:

  • Mention how you pushed to achieve your goals despite the odds
  • Mention instances where you achieved beyond your target, if there were any
  • Provide measurable results (eg. $600 above commission target) to speak of your drive and determination


•  Practice: do your preparation and research. You should read up on the company and know all of the recent news stories involving it.

•  You need to be ready with good questions and not just answers. Ask amazing questions at the end that will make you stand out.

•  Make a good first impression. Your bosses and clients will often judge what you do and how well you are capable of doing it by the way you look. Sometimes, dressing smartly may actually get your foot into the door.

This article is either written or edited by jobsDB SG. If you would like to publish or link it on your website or publication, you have to write to [email protected] to get the permission. We reserve the right to take legal action if we find copyright infringement.