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Investment Banking: Summer Analyst Interview tips

Updated on January 11, 2014

My friend is studying economics and media communications at Tufts University with career aspirations of Investment Banking. Tufts’ proximity to New York and alumni network with the bulge bracket firms is a significant reason why he and others transfer to Tuft's.

Bulge bracket firms are the big banks like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and J.P. Morgan. J.P. Morgan’s CEO, Jamie Dimon is a Tufts alumnus.

People who pursue Investment Banking field because they have strong mental computation skills and have always loved seeing the cause and effect of banking transactions, mostly mergers and acquisitions. They also love the challenge of dealing with a forever-changing market and exploring how money moves.

If you are looking to obtain a bulge-bracket firm internship this summer and are currently undergoing the interview process. The ten-week junior year programs are structured in a way that you could potentially get a full time offer at the end of the summer. That should be your goal. In this article, I will describe the steps to properly undergo an interview for Investment Banking.

In Investment Banking, appearance is everything. It is a very conservative industry that requires a shirt and tie every day of the week. Many banks even prohibit facial hair. Bankers have a reputation of being judgmental over seemingly minute details. Some may perceive you a certain way because you wear glasses. Others may judge your tie choice. The best bet is to be simple and classic.

Arrive at your interview fifteen minutes early clean-shaven with a portfolio and copies of your resume. It is best for it to be printed on resume paper. Come clean-shaven wearing a solid navy or gray suit with a white or French blue shirt.

The tie should be clean, not a statement pattern piece. Always match your polished shoes to your belt. While brown or tan leathers are acceptable, you can never go wrong with black. You shouldn't wear jewelry other than a watch.

The watch should be functional, not obnoxious. The tie knot is very important. Crooked, loose ties convey a lack of detail and aesthetic appeal. The full Windsor, half Windsor and four-in-hand are all acceptable depending on the type of collar. My personal preference is a spread collar with a four-in-hand. A dimple goes a long way.

How to Tie Neckties & Bow Ties : How to Dimple a Necktie

When it comes to the interview conversation, you must know your resume incredibly well. Bankers will skim through it for less than a minute and will indefinitely ask you to walk them through it. I learned to start with a story of how I got into Investment Banking. Where did your passion come from?

How are your extra-curricular and work experiences relevant? Which skills do you possess to be an attractive candidate? My friend begins with a story about how they met the CEO of the first black-owned bank I interned at. I then discuss how his entrepreneurship and dedication to Chicago led him to start his own firm.

Next you can discuss your experiences during your four-year stretch and how it led me to here (that moment). Then he transition into my relevant activities and close with how my love of numbers and finance urges me to intern at an elite firm.

You may also be asked a “thinking” question. For example, how many tennis balls will fit in this room? They do not expect you to have the correct answer. Instead they want to see how you think critically. I would respond with estimating the dimensions of the room. Then estimate the surface area of a tennis ball. Calculate how many will fit. Take your time and guide them through your logic.

The resume walk-through is more of a behavioral question. The meat of the interview is going to be technical. Bankers will ask a series of questions, gradually increasing in difficulty to see how well applicants perform under pressure. These bankers have years of experience and do not expect applicants to have all the answers. Instead, they look for a general understanding of the market and financial literacy.

The key is to take your time. Make sure that you hear the question clearly so you can provide the most accurate answer. Ask again for clarification if necessary. Naturally, you would like to avoid stuttering and be straightforward. If you do not know the answer, do not guess. They will assume that you would do the same in front of a client.

It is okay to say that you are not entirely sure but you have some sort of knowledge on the topic. If you do not have any clue about what is being asked, respond saying you currently do not know but I will promptly get back to you with an answer. Follow through with your promise and they will likely be impressed. Do so in your follow-up thank you email.

Interviewers will almost always ask you to discuss a current event in the market. It is wise to have more than one story that you are comfortable with. If you can add your personal opinion to the story, you can typically engage in a discussion-based dialogue that does not seem like an interview.

This is ideal because it shows that you have a valuable voice and the interview starts to open up. Another common question is presenting a case for two stocks. You should be able to explain why you selected them, their historic performance and any news surrounding that stock. Be thorough and have at least three ready to sell.

You must be persuasive to excel in Investment Banking. After the pitch come the technical questions. Interviewers may ask you the relationship between the three financial statements. This relates to the balance sheet, cash flows and income statement. They will also ask you the three most popular valuation methods. They are the discounted cash flow, comparable analysis and precedent transaction analysis. Know all three and be able to apply them. Those are the standard questions. The rest are conditional based on your how your conversation goes. Remember to maintain eye contact, have proper posture and limit the nervous fiddling. The man in the picture below exhibits proper posture.

Proper Sitting Posture

It is important to convey your personality during the interview. This should happen naturally opposed to being forced. Some of your traits come through when describing your work ethic. For example, I say that I learned how to work diligently from my father at a young age.

He taught me to earn my own profit instead of relying on others. Bankers are typically family-
oriented and enjoy seeing themselves in candidates. Another way to express personality is the “interests” portion of the resume.

Towards the end of the interview, you will likely be asked about the interests you listed. Have a balance of common and uncommon interests. This shows that you are relatable but still unique. If you see the interviewer has a similar interest, ask them about it. Show them that you are a good listener and can hold conversation that is not always work related.

In reality, entry-level analysts will likely work eighty hour weeks. For this reason, it is essential that a team be able to work well together. Finish the interview by asking two or three questions about the firm and the interviewer’s experiences.

How do first year analysts fit into the firm’s culture? What drew you to this firm? How was the transition from college to your current position? These should be questions that you cannot find on the Internet.

When the interview is over, thank the interviewer for their time. Ask for a card and say you will follow up. Actually do so. A thank you email should be sent that same day. Make sure it includes a specific component of your interview so they can distinguish you from other applicants.

If you would like to go a step further, write a hand-written letter and mail it so you separate yourself from a hundred weekly emails. Lastly, shake their hand firmly as you part ways. It should she simple: three pumps and minimal shaking. The video link below explains how to do so.

Good Luck.

How to Give a Proper Handshake


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