Preparing for an Investment Banking Interview
An investment banking job interview is an accomplishment in itself and you don’t want to waste this potential once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Just landing an interview should assure you that the investment banking firm is intrigued by your background and sees you as a potential asset to their team. The interview process offers you the opportunity to prove your merit and convince your prospective employer that you have what it takes to hit the ground running in this competitive industry.
Investment banking job interviews are among the most stressful, rigorous and intimidating in the financial services industry. So what strategy should you adopt for an interview with a Wall Street firm? A high percentage of connections by investment banks are being made through inside contacts; you need to stand out in order to get the offer.
A peek into the questions
The first thing in chalking out a strategy for the interview is to remove the uncertainty related to the type of questions that an interviewer is likely to ask. Job search digest has a good list of top investment banking job interview questions to get you started. Prepare your answer for these, so that you can convey the right message. Your answers need to be short and precise. You should also seek the help from banking professionals and executive recruiters who are familiar with the investment banking interview process.
Do your homework
Gather as much information as you can about the investment banking firm. Your research should be thorough… the more you find out the better. If you have done this and can display your knowledge about it during the interview, it demonstrates your interest in the firm.
You could find out a lot from the particular investment banking firm’s websites. Make sure you read the “About Us” section. This will also tell you a great deal about the core values of the investment bank. For instance, Goldman Sach’s website has a separate page on “Diversity and Inclusion” in the “Who We Are” section. So, you know this concept is important to Goldman Sachs. Similarly, the “About Us” section on the website of JP Morgan Chase has a page on “Our Culture.”
You should also learn about the specialties of the firm. For instance, one firm may be renowned for its bonds, while Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are leaders in retail distribution. Explore the latest deals conducted by the interviewing investment bank. Also, if the bank has recently been in the news, find out the details of the story. For instance, what specific areas of the firm are expanding versus contracting and what are driving these changes? Lastly, find out about the firm’s latest stock price movements and the probable causes of these.
Brush up on the basics
You should be able to answer questions on any topic covered by your MBA program (remember, you may well be interviewed by recent alumni). If you are less than confident about some subjects, be sure to brush up on these. Make sure you can explain various financial theories put into practice, such as efficient market, CAPM, and valuation methods. Moreover, be aware of current macroeconomic events, as macroeconomic trends impact investment banks much more than most. Your view on the current market is fair game in an interview and you need to be prepared to answer such questions.
Get to know the players in the firm
How can you learn about the people on the inside? Several renowned investment banks, such as Citi, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley, host campus events that offer excellent educational and networking opportunities. The campus teams set up by the various investment banks are made up of alumni, dedicated business people and recruiters and aim to inform prospective candidates about the company’s culture through open houses and discussions. These events are an ideal place to get first hand information about investment banking firms and the players in the firm. Don’t forget to check your MBA alumni list for people from the particular investment bank. You should always leave the door open to follow up with these individuals to ask additional questions via phone.
You could get a lot of information about the top management and board of directors from the investment banking firm’s website. Some investment bankers may have their own blogs or they may be part of communities on the Internet. You should find these and read them to learn about the attitudes, values and temperament of the people working in the investment bank.
Scope out the competition
Conduct thorough research of the particular investment bank’s closest rivals. Find out what you can about the specialties, strengths, weaknesses and stock performance of the competition. Sites like Hoovers provide details on various leading investment banks and the competitive landscape. Always study the competition – the latest news headlines are a good place to start. Taking the previous example of an interview call from JP Morgan Chase, you can read up on what its rivals Citigroup and UBS are doing and relate that to the interviewing bank’s strategy.
Prove you are the person for the job
Once you have done all the spadework, you need to align your answers according to the interviewing firm’s specialties, culture and people. Demonstrate that your interests and specialties are in line with that of the firm. Through your answers, convey to the interviewers that you have done your homework and understand the industry, the firm and the position requirements and responsibilities.
Keep in mind investment banks usually use multiple rounds of interviews in the hiring process. Remember that each round requires more extensive preparation so that you continue to impress the interviewers with each meeting.
If you would like to find an investment banking job opportunity, you could look at the numerous investment banking jobs available. You can do this by browsing sites like Job Search Digest. You can also get in touch with leading executive search consultants for details of current vacancies. www.JobSearchDigest.com provides Premium members with a database of niche investment banking recruiters.