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In-Depth Jobs

Issue No 35, 27 November -3 December 2021

Career As Specialist Officer In Public Sector Banks

Arti S

Becoming a Probationary Officer in a Public Sector Bank (PSB) is a career aspiration for many young people in our country. For honest and hardworking people this career offers both job security and growth opportunity. One requires a simple qualification of graduation to apply and based on performance in online examination and interview, may get selected to work in any of the PSBs viz. Punjab National Bank, Indian Bank, Canara Bank, Union Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, UCO Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Punjab and Sindh Bank, Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Bank of Baroda. Recruitment examination for these banks is conducted by the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection, popularly known as IBPS which is based at Mumbai, the financial capital of our country.

There is lesser awareness about the position of Specialist Probationary Officer in PSBs. IBPS conducts recruitment exercise for Specialist Officers position also in the above banks. Generalist and Specialist Officers are recruited in State Bank of India too, for which a separate selection process is conducted.

Those who join as a Probationary Officer, remain on probation for a period of one/two years during which they are thoroughly trained, provided on the job training and are confirmed in respective banks' service after their satisfactory performance. While general banking officers' work in operational banking, Specialist Officers deal with specialized functions of the bank. Over the years, banks have realized the importance of having manpower with specialized skills and accordingly make fresh recruitments of people with specialized qualifications. In few situations, lateral entry is also possible for experienced people.

 The major categories of specialist positions in bank comprises of Agricultural Officer, Marketing Officer, Human Resource (HR) Officer, Law Officer, Official Language Officer and Information Technology (IT) Officer. Nomenclature in some banks may differ. Agricultural officer may be known as Field or Rural Development Officer, HR Officers may be called as Personnel or Industrial Relations Officers and Official Language officers may be known as Hindi Officers.

 To apply for Specialist Officers position, one should have the requisite qualification in the designated specialization. Such requirements and related roles have been described below.

Agricultural Officer: A large number of public sector bank branches are situated in rural areas which cater to villagers and provide them loan for agriculture and allied activities. Keeping this in mind banks appoint Agricultural Officers at their selected branches. These officers evaluate and process loan proposals and popularize government schemes which are implemented through banks. They make significant contribution in promoting self-help groups, financial inclusion and achieving priority sector loan targets. Priority sector is the segment which the government wants to encourage and includes loan within prescribed limits, for housing, education and farming etc. After promotion Agricultural Officers have the opportunity to work as branch managers and at other senior positions. Eligibility criteria is four years degree in Agriculture or related subjects or in Agricultural engineering/ technology.

Human Resource Officer: HR Officers in banks while working at HR or personnel department of the bank, look after routine functions like issuing appointment orders, transfer and placement, payroll, compensation and benefits, performance evaluation, industrial relations, disciplinary cases and training administration etc. After few years' experience they may head the HR department at regional or zonal office of the bank. Eligibility criteria for HR Officer is two years full time postgraduate degree or diploma in Personnel Management or HR or Industrial Relations or Social Work or HRD or Labour Law.

 Marketing Officer: Since a decade or so PSBs have been intensifying their efforts for marketing of their products and services for which they use the services of Marketing Officers. Under the guidance of seniors and based on the priorities of the Bank, they formulate and execute marketing strategies across the branch network. Postgraduate degree like MBA/ PGDM in or with specialization in Marketing makes a candidate eligible for this position.

Law Officer: Banks have to deal with a variety of legal issues. Sometimes legal validity of documents have to be checked and sometimes there are legal issues pertaining to borrowers are even employees. In such cases, the bank's valid interest has to be protected. As a Law Officer inter alia, one would be required to coordinate with external lawyers engaged by the bank and keep a track record of progress in the suits filed on behalf of the bank or those filed against it. To apply for the position of Law Officer, a candidate should have LLB qualification and should be enrolled as an advocate with Bar Council.

Official Language Officer: All central government ministries, departments and public sector undertakings are required to implement the official language policy and promote use of Hindi in their internal working as well as in dealing with their customers and other stakeholders. To facilitate this, there is a provision for appointing Official Language Officers who translate documents from English to Hindi and vice-versa, organize Hindi work-shops, collect and compile reports and encourage employees to use Hindi in their work. The entry requirement for an Official Language Officer is possessing a postgraduate degree in Hindi with English at graduation level or post graduation in Sanskrit with Hindi and English at graduation level.

Information Technology Officer: As we can see, technology is making significant inroads in various aspects of our life. Gradually, banking is also being dominated by technological operations. Branches of a Bank are now integrated by network which enables customers of a particular branch to perform their operations at any branch of the same bank. Information and communication technologies have simplified mobile banking with ease of use. National Electronic Fund Transfer has been now made available 24X7. All these have been made possible with the contribution of people with expertise in IT. Those who want to add to such efforts can apply for the position of IT officer if they have a B.Tech or B.E. in Electronics/ Electronics and Telecommunication/ Information Technology/ Computer Applications/ Computer Science/ Electronics and Instrumentation. M.E/ M.Tech in the above branches and graduates who have completed 'B' level of DOEACC are also eligible.

 Only full time courses are accepted for the eligibility criteria.

Selection Procedure: All the applicants found eligible have to first appear in a preliminary examination which comprises of objective type questions related to English language and reasoning for all positions. For Law Officers and Hindi Officers the third test will be of general awareness in which questions with special reference to Banking Industry will be asked. Candidates for other posts will be tested for quantitative aptitude in the third segment. Total number of questions would be 150 with a time limit of two hours. The main examination will be of professional knowledge from the specialized area. Test for the applicants for Official Language Officer will comprise of two parts-objective and subjective. For others, there would be only objective type questions. The main examination has a maximum time of 45 minutes with maximum 60 marks. In the preliminary examination, candidates have to achieve minimum prescribed marks to figure in the merit list for the main examination. The strategy should be to maximize score as only the highest scorers in limited number will be called to appear in the main examination.

Test Structure:

English Language: Here the questions asked will check your understanding of English through questions of multiple nature such as reading, comprehension, fill in the blanks, error spotting, para jumbles, completing paragraph etc. In reading comprehension, you have to go through a given paragraph and then select the most appropriate answers for the given questions. The answers would seek the core idea of the passage, the underlying ideas, what has been said and what has not been said. You may be required to draw inferences, agree/disagree with the statements made with reference to the passage. A part or a sentence from the passage may be highlighted to ask questions based on that. You may be also required to provide synonyms/antonyms of particular words given in the passage. Your success in comprehension would depend on your reading speed, retention and understanding with proper analysis. Attempting comprehension exercises from books of general English and other sources may be of help. Para jumbles will require you to find the correct sequence of sentences of a para. You have to find the right order and then mark the matching answer. Here the clue is to look for patterns which make a sentence as introductory, the ones which describe the idea or theme after introduction and the conclusive one. Look for words and phrases like hence, since, as well as, due to, as a consequence etc. With good grammar and a strong vocabulary you can do well in this section.

Quantitative Aptitude: The section of quantitative aptitude mainly deals with numbers and checks your arithmetic ability. The questions may relate to series, numerical sums, approximation, data sufficiency/ insufficiency, quadratic equations, profit loss, simple and compound interest, mensuration, time and work, time, speed and distance, ratio, probability and data interpretation etc. While solving a series for providing the missing element, you need to be sure of the pattern followed which can be of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square, square root etc. Approximation questions are based on direct calculations with low, medium or high complexity. In quadratic equations you have to find the required value. Your understanding of square/square root/ fraction values will help. Data interpretation here means studying the data presented in form of graphs/charts etc. and answer related questions.

Here you need to be thorough in calculations with good foundation. Principle of BODMAS and remembering tables would help. You may prepare based on the mathematics syllabus of SSC (10th standard) of state board, ICSE or CBSE. To score high you need conceptual clarity and lot of practice. This can be the highest scoring segment.

 Reasoning: Here some of the questions may be in form of puzzles while the other questions may be based on blood relations (A is sister of B, B is daughter in law of C and ----), sense of direction (M travels 8 meters to west and then turns to walk 6 meters south, turns again and ------), coding, input-output, syllogism, inequalities and ranking etc. Puzzles may be having inter related sets of data (some people are sitting in a row at specific positions and each one of them likes a particular colour). Syllogism is about finding possibilities. In the questions on logical inequality, based on the given statement, you will be required to establish relation between elements. As regards coding, here codes for different terms would be given based on which you'll be required to find out codes for new terms. To do well in this section you need to solve large number of practice questions. Illustrations given in brackets above will give you some idea about question pattern of question.

General Awareness with special reference to Banking: This section, as the name suggests, will comprise mainly of questions from the world of economy, questions related to banking, insurance and finance may be asked. To prepare for this section, it is advisable to go through the business pages of newspapers, refer to financial dailies/business magazines and watch business news channels which cover such matters. Questions here may relate to merger of banks (which banks have been merged into whom), persons (who is the Chairman and managing director of a particular bank/ other government agencies), various government schemes, Know your customer policy, micro, small and medium enterprises, role of the Reserve Bank of India etc. You may also expect questions related to books and authors and currencies used in different countries.

Professional Knowledge: Here the question will be from the particular specialization viz. Agriculture, Law, Marketing, HR, Information Technology and Official Language Policy and Hindi language. Candidates should make thorough preparation about their respective subjects. Questions related to concepts, theories, approaches and strategies may be asked. Preparation should be based on your text books which you studied during your graduation and Post-graduation. In the test for Official Language Officers, translation based questions will be there. Your comprehension, knowledge/meaning of banking and financial terms, vocabulary, grammar etc. would also be tested.

 Interview: Based on the performance in main examination a certain number of candidates would be asked to appear in the interview process. Such number will be in relation to available vacancies. As usual the interview would judge your aptitude and suitability for the particular role.

You should be first focused on qualifying in the preliminary examination and then rank high in the main examination to be called for interview.

(The author is a career counsellor. She can be reached at artmumb98@ gmail.com)

Views expressed are personal