Saturday, January 19, 2013

Investment Banking Interviews - First Round Interviews Decoded

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2. Top 14 tips to prepare job interviews
First of all, we're talking about the formal "give me a job" type of first round interview here. Not about the investment banking informational interview, which is simply a meet and greet.
First Rounders are where your banking lives really kick off and their importance comes down to the simple fact that if you mess up here your banking life is DOA - dead upon arrival!
For target school kids first round investment banking interviews will frequently take place on campus when the banks roll into town and will often be with an analyst or other junior banker who's an alumnus of your school.
In other countries it might take place at the bank's HQ and be with a representative from the IB's HR department - or a junior banker.
For non-target school kids who manage to get a formal recruiting interview it might take place at a nearby school or at the bank. More likely though you'll start out with informal interviews over coffees - aka investment banking informational interviews - thanks to your networking, which can then lead to formal interviews at the bank's HQ.
But location is the least of our worries, so let's move on.
It's more important for you to recognize that the purpose of the first round interview is to act as a quality control mechanism. Junior bankers simply aim to cull enough students so that final rounds (aka Super Saturday or simply Superday) can take place without a throng of 10,000 students storming the bank's offices.
And so they are only testing you on
1) your track record as listed on your resume,
2) your personality and
3) your basic technical skills.
Thankfully you will only be summarily grilled on these issues, because first round banking interviews don't go for that long. Think 20-30 minutes.
How can you sail through first round interviews?
Well, if you manage to 'get along' with the interviewer then you're probably through.
i.e. if you can talk about your resume for a couple minutes, get the banker smiling and answer some Basic as Ben Stiller questions about financial statements and Finance 101 valuation techniques you'll most likely get green lighted for another interview.

And if you can show you have serious passion for banking by talking about your journey over the years, how it has led you to banking and made you want it more than ever before, you're almost home.

Increasingly important in today's recruiting environment though, is your ability to handle some basic investment banking technical interview questions and brain teasers during first rounds. Banks are loading interviews with more than before, because it's the fastest and most objective way to eliminate a huge chunk of the candidate pool (an important point when supply & demand is as out of whack as it is now).
At the end of the day though these first round interviews are just about eliminating the Ben Stiller type retards - i.e. a 'basic smarts' cut. Or said with more panache, these interviews are simply about eliminating the also-rans, not about picking the stars. So don't stress.

Richard is the head writer for Inside Investment Banking - a one-stop shop of advice for students just like you who want to know how to get into investment banking without a 4.0 GPA from Harvard or nepotistic connections on Wall Street.
Created by a team of 5 young bankers, Inside Investment Banking contains all the real insider advice you need to write killer banking resumes, answer tough interview questions, network with bankers and much more.


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