Preparing for an Investment Banking Job Interview

It’s tough enough getting your foot in the door of an investment bank for your first interview out of business school. You want to be prepared for the big moment when it arrives. As BusinessInsider recently revealed, you need to do more than prove you’ve got the skills and work ethic. You need to show them you’d be an “upbeat” person to be around at 3 in the morning, putting together pitch books.

Rule number one: better know exactly why you want the investment banking job. Recruiter Barbara Hewitt says you’d better understand the position thoroughly and be prepared to explain why you want it. And not just why you want investment banking in general, but what specific areas of the job turn you on. The more specific you are, the more determined and focused you appear to the interviewer.

We’re going to assume you’ve got your technical skills down cold. Chances are you’re going to have to solve a case study as part of the interview process, with all the financial statements, P&L’s, cash flow statements and valuation methods that go along with that. Better familiarize yourself with financial terms such as cost of capital, cash flow discounting, multiples, accretion and dilution, LBO, CAPM, WACC and Beta.

Other good things to have in your back pocket: be up-to-speed on current events, the economy, and what’s happening in financial markets around the world. You should also have done your due diligence on the firm where you’re interviewing, and Googled the person interviewing you, if possible.

You’ve got to look the part, too, says Hewitt. Polished and well-groomed and dressed in “business formal”, which means tailored suits with neutral colored shirts and no ornate or flashy jewelry or accessories. Women can choose pants or a skirt suit, she says, but be sure to wear stockings or pantyhose with the suit. Oh, and yes, this might be a good time to remove any visible body piercings.

We’ve written before about the importance of adding a personal touch to your presentation. So be prepared to talk about any hobbies or active pastimes you might have. They add to the impression that you are energetic, active individual and possibly a team player. The interviewer may share the same interests, too, creating an opportunity to build rapport.

Hewitt (and many other career experts) recommend that you conduct mock interviews with friends or family to practice your pitch. Mock interviews can help you smooth out your answers to typical questions and sound more natural in the actual interview.

Finally, the BusinessInsider article has a separate section on what NOT to do in your investment banking job interview, to avoid blowing all your hard work and preparation.

What’s the best piece of advice you would give someone about to face an investment banking interview? Add your comments below.

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