► Strong work ethic
► Positive, courteous attitude
► Strong attention to detail
► Ability to learn quickly
► Not afraid to ask questions when stuck
“Investment Banker related Frequently Asked Questions in various Investment Banker job interviews by interviewer. The set of questions here ensures that you offer a perfect answer posed to you. So get preparation for your new job hunting”
► Strong work ethic
► Positive, courteous attitude
► Strong attention to detail
► Ability to learn quickly
► Not afraid to ask questions when stuck
Upon graduating high school, I was accepted to 8 schools, among which were UNC and IU. Relative to other schools I visited, the combination of business curriculum, research facilities, specific professors, atmosphere on campus and personal fit allowed me to make this decision and I felt without a doubt that [insert school] was the school I wanted to attend.
I knew going in that I would have to work extremely hard to differentiate myself not only from my classmates, but also from the candidates I would be facing in the banking interviews. I have pressed myself to learn as much as possible about the banking industry. While I understand that I have an incredibly long journey ahead of me, I believe that my personal, professional and academic accomplishments to date have positioned me for success in the banking world.
NOTE: To the extent that it's honest, be sure to say that you looked at a lot of colleges and you chose this college because of a strong business/finance/economics program or a strong academic curriculum. If you attended the school for some sort of scholarship (academic, sports, musical, etc.), be sure to point that out.
I can be successful in investment banking because I have a "whatever it takes" attitude. In many ways it can be inconvenient and draining to do so, but it's been ingrained in my head to have an entrepreneurial mindset and to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
I had my first work internship with a paint company, during my freshman year of college. During the spring semester, interns were expected to go to their hometown once a week or once every two weeks in order to have enough time to do marketing and sales work. Obviously for freshmen in college, this can be very taxing. I knew it was going to be tough, but I tried to dedicate as much time to the program as possible. Some weeks I went home twice a week if I had to get marketing work done for the company. It was through this experience that I learned how hard I can work when I'm put to the test. I believe I can be successful in investment banking because I'm a grinder who will do whatever it takes, whenever it takes.
Importantly, as I to go into banking, I know what I am getting myself into. I know the grueling hours; I know what level of work is expected of me. This isn't a position I am applying for simply because I "see the dollar signs." I know banking could be an invaluable experience that would help set me on the right course for professional success in the future.
YES. I will sign right now!
No. Even if you have a copy of your resume in front of you, you should be able to talk about your background and experiences without referring to your resume. Referring to, or worse, reading off of your resume makes it seem like you don't even know your own history.
The investment bank performs two basic, critical functions: acting as an intermediary for capital raising, and as an adviser on M&A transactions and other major corporate actions. As an intermediary, it connects companies that need capital with investors who have capital to spend. It facilitates this through debt and equity offerings. As an adviser, an investment bank counsels companies on such corporate actions as mergers, acquisitions, spinoffs, and restructurings.
During my first semester of freshman year, I joined the college ROTC program. It was a grueling program wherein I was going to bed at 9p.m. every night, and waking up at 4:30a.m. (I was very thankful that I had a very considerate and patient roommate!) At some points I definitely wanted to quit, but in the end it was worth it. There were only 3 out of 10 freshmen who made it through the program, and I was one of them.
NOTE: Talk about teamwork or something you are really involved with, especially if it involves working with others. This question is another way to ask, "what are your strengths?"
This can be another tricky one. If you are interviewing out of undergrad or B-School, I would emphasize that you are only interviewing with investment banks or at least that banking is by far your main focus. If you are trying to switch careers, interviewers are going to understand that getting a job in banking is more difficult and that you may need to cast a wider net. In these instances, I think that as long as you state that banking is your top choice, it's okay to mention that you are interviewing with other institutions, provided that they are in finance and require similar skill-sets (e.g. equity research, corporate banking, etc.) Whatever you do, don't state (even if it is true) that you are looking at banking, consulting, hedge funds, private equity and also considering going to cooking school. You'll come across as unfocused and not serious about being an investment banker.
Suggest one bank that you admire in the industry and state a good quality it possesses. Then counter that with saying the bank you are interviewing at also has this great quality, and might even be better. An example: "Goldman has a well known and highly respected corporate culture and teamwork philosophy. However, [Insert Bank] has exactly that but after talking to employees at the bank, I'm convinced that the level of teamwork and culture here are very strong, and probably a better fit for me."
You should plan on spending 3 - 5 minutes talking about your background. If you notice that the interviewer looks bored, then speed it up. If the interviewer looks engaged, then be more detailed. Some interviewers will let you finish your story before asking questions and others will interrupt you repeatedly.
I know analysts are expected to go through 2 years of intensive finance boot camp. I expect the hours to be long, mostly doing financial modeling, making pitchbooks, doing due-diligence, and yet again having to reschedule plans with friends!
Even more so than the question about strengths, it's unusual to be asked about your weaknesses. There is no good way to answer this question so the best advice is to try to move on as quickly as possible. Obviously you don't want mention real weaknesses (I'm dumb, I'm lazy, I require 12 hours of sleep a night). You also don't want to say things that make you look silly like "I work too hard" and you can't say you don't have any weaknesses because you'll come off as too arrogant. So try to think of something relatively innocuous that also might highlight a strength. For example, "I can get occasionally get impatient with peers/coworkers who don't have the same abilities as me or don't show the same commitment that I do." Or, "Sometimes I can be so focused with or driven by the task on hand that I wind up tuning out other aspects of my life." You can also usually say something like, "I think my skills are very good compared with my peers but, of course, I'm new to investment banking, and I obviously need more experience. Experience which I'm confident I'll get working for you…"
Occasionally, a really difficult interviewer will ask you for 3 weaknesses, knowing that your first 2 will be bullshit answers. To which I would respond that my major weakness is, "I'm really bad at bullshit interview questions."
I think one of my best attributes is the ability to learn quickly and to be efficient with my time. Currently, I have a 3.7 cumulative GPA, which isn't amazing, but taking into account that I have run my own business full-time during school and am supporting myself through college, I think it's a good accomplishment. I didn't always have enough time to put into my studies, but I knew that if I was productive and efficient, I could still achieve strong grades.
At the end of almost every interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. This is your opportunity to learn more about the job and the firm. By asking good questions, it is also a chance for you to open up the interview into more of a conversation.
However, even if you have little interest in the job, or if you've already had all of your questions answered by the other 8 people with whom you interviewed that day, you should always be prepared with 3-4 questions that you can ask an interviewer. Here's a few examples:
- How long have you been with the bank and how has your experience been?
- What do you like best about working here. Worst?
- How do you compare working here with other banks at which you have worked?
- How is the dealflow?
- On what types of deals are you currently working?
- What kind of responsibility does the typical Analyst/Associate receive?
- Can you tell me about your training program?
- How do Analysts/Associates get staffed?
► Big Picture Thinking: One of my criticisms this summer was that I concentrated too much on getting my work done quickly without sometimes taking a step back and thinking about the rationale behind everything. This can be advantageous for getting individual tasks done, but I realize this limitation will hinder my professional development down the line, and it is something I will need to improve as I gain more responsibility.
► Communication Skills: I've never been fully comfortable speaking in public. I knew that communication skills are an essential skill no matter what field you go into, so I took initiative last semester and joined a class focused on helping students prepare for public speaking. This forced me to speak in front of groups that put me out of my comfort zone. It has helped quite a bit but I know that I will constantly want to improve my communication skills.
► Networking: I think my greatest weakness would have to be networking. Initially, I am soft-spoken with people. I like to concentrate on my work, so much that it often hinders me from developing relationships. That's exactly why I want to go to New York, so that I can work on my people skills and build my network.
NOTE: What most candidates fail to do is to actually give real strengths and weaknesses. This might sound counter-intuitive but this is a chance for you to be honest and focus on the qualities interviewers are looking for when answering the question. When listing your weaknesses, make sure to list real weaknesses, but make sure you can demonstrate that you are aware of them and explain how you can improve upon them.
My #1 priority is to be in New York. My view is, "if I'm going to be working 90-100 hours a week, I want to be near my family and friends in NYC." In addition, (this Middle Market bank) offers a unique experience, an opportunity to gain exposure to higher-level executives, and also more opportunities, if I work in the M&A group, to work on both buy-side and sell-side deals. That's definitely something that is a key consideration for me. I want to work on deals that are really important to the people involved because it will give me the pressure to perform to the best of my ability-this is an important factor in the role I am seeking. Finally, I feel that with the long hours I am going to be working, I want to be working for a firm that I enjoy. The fact that (this bank) is rated as one of the "Best Companies to Work For" is definitely a plus.
Investment banking is the business of raising capital for companies and providing advising services on financing and merger activities. Thus, for example, a company will approach an investment bank when it needs to raise capital or when it needs advice in negotiating and structuring an acquisition of another company. Here are examples of some of the different functions a banker will perform, as well as some other important basics to know about the job:
► Underwriting: an arrangement whereby investment bankers raise investment capital from investors on behalf of corporations and governments who issue public securities ("public offering"). These securities can come in the form of equity (IPO, secondary equity issuance) or debt (high-grade debt, high yield bonds, government securities, etc). Investment banks make money by securing underwriting fees (% of the capital raised) from the public offerings.
► Financial Restructuring: provide advisory services including recommending the sale of assets (corporate divestitures), potential bolt-on acquisitions and merger opportunities, or even working with M&A bankers to sell the company entirely.
► Investment Banking Job Hierarchy: Analysts → Associates → Vice Presidents (VPs) → Directors → Managing Directors (MDs)
► General Pitch Book: Created by the bankers and used to guide introductions and presentations during a sales pitch. Pitch Books contain general information and include a wide variety of selling points, such as an overview of the investment bank, including details of its specific capabilities in research, corporate finance, and sales & trading, and usually provides updates on industry/market and recommendations on the optimal capital structure strategy for the company.
► Deal-Specific Pitch Book: Highly customized depending on the situation; includes valuations, comparable company analyses, and industry analyses, as well as the bank's reputation, prominence and acumen of its research analysts, performance on past/similar work, and information on rankings/expertise.
It's really up to you and whatever you think tells the best story. Some people start with where they grew up. Others start with college or their first job out of college while more experienced or older individuals might start with Business School or other graduate program. Just keep in mind that your most recent experiences are going to be more relevant so don't get bogged down with stories of your first lemonade stand or how well you invested your Bar Mitzvah money.
Honestly, my biggest concern with investment banking is the politics that come along with the business world. I definitely had a first-hand experience with this problem during my internship. It was complicated by the fact that I had to move locations and, on top of that, change groups. I currently have an offer with Bank of America Merrill Lynch Healthcare, and it's the offer I wanted since it's arguably one the strongest groups at BAML, but it wasn't one of my favorite experiences of the summer.
One concern I have about investment banking is the balance between work life and family life. Family and friends are an important part of my life because they have shaped the person that I am today. That is why my #1 priority is to stay in New York. If I'm going to be working 90-100 hours a week, then I want to be as close to family as possible.
While I found all of my business courses interesting, the most interesting class I took was Psychology. I found the science of human behavior fascinating, and I've identified a number of such findings that can be applied to better understanding the capital markets.