In addition to learning all you can about the firm where you’re interviewing, you should also try to learn about the key players in the firm. Many well-known investment banks host campus events that offer excellent educational and networking opportunities. Be sure to check your school’s alumni list for people who may work at that particular bank. Try to ask questions of these people by email or phone.
Scope out their competition, too. Research the bank’s closest rivals and become familiar with how your target bank’s strengths and weaknesses stack up against its competitors. You can use web services such as Hoovers or Dow Jones Factiva to get company information. You can also see a list of major investment banks with links to their web sites at this website.
Your goal in the first round of interviews is to prove you have the skills for the job. Your goal in the second round or Superday is to prove you are the right person for the firm. So as part of your preparation, you’ll want to align your strengths and answers to the specific firm’s specialties, culture and people. By doing so, you’ll demonstrate to the interviewers that you’ve done your homework, understand the industry, the firm and the specific requirements of the job.
You need to show that you have stamina, and can work very hard on very little sleep. That you can learn quickly, work well in teams and are eager to gain experience. You can show your leadership qualities by mentioning that you were chairperson of a student group or organization. Demonstrate communication skills by having worked as an editor or being part of the debating society. Prove your time management skills by being involved in extra-curricular activities while maintaining a strong academic record.
You also need to have a winning personality and be interesting. Obviously, you can’t change your personality to fit a job interview. But you can examine your life carefully to identify the experiences and unusual events or people that have shaped your life. It’s a rare high-achiever who hasn’t done something unusual or different in his or her life. Think about what you’re known for among friends, or try to develop a unique angle based on your hobbies or outside interests.
Many candidates also practice by doing mock interviews with help from their friends. This gives them a chance to focus on their weaknesses, and spend time improving their answers in these areas. You don’t have to go overboard with mock interviews, but they are a good idea. Experts caution that you should not script your answers word for word, but rather have a few talking points and a general idea of what you’ll say.
You’ll need a selection of typical investment banking job interview questions to conduct these practice interviews. We’ll be covering that topic our next posting.