The guide to investment banking internships: Interviewing

investment banking internships: interviewing

So your resume and cover letter caught somebody’s eye, and you’ve been called in for an interview. Now it is time to prepare yourself for one of the most important conversations, in terms of your career, that you’ve had to this point.

It isn’t enough to simply know your stuff or have relevant experience under your belt, you’ll also have to nail the interview to land a job with an investment bank – or in any industry. When it comes to investment banking though, the interview process will likely be a bit more in-depth than it would be within other industries. For instance, you’ll probably have to go through at least a couple rounds of interviews before you find out whether you got the job. Also, you’re going to have to know your stuff and know it well, to display the sort of passion for investment banking jobs that hiring managers are looking for. So, let’s take a look at how you should prepare for, and what you should expect from, doing your first round of investment banking internship interviews.

Preparation is paramount to impressing interviewers
The preparation portion is where any prior networking will come in handy. Before you’re interviewed by a hiring manager, it will be useful for you to reach out to people you know in the industry, or even individuals you don’t know who would be willing to talk to you about what it takes to make it at their companies. During informational interviews, ask what people at their companies are looking for in internship candidates, what interns learn, what their responsibilities are when they are hired and what to expect out of an interview. This will likely be the most informative bit of preparation you get, so take it seriously and be thorough in your questioning.

“Hit the Internet and do all the research you can.”

If not equally important as the informational interview, then about as close as it can get, is a deep understanding of the investment bank you hope to land an internship at. Hit the Internet and do all the research you can into who works there, what the culture is like, what sort of clients the bank pursues and the history of the company. The better your understanding of the investment bank you’d like to land an internship at, the better your chances of actually doing so.

Soak in everything you can during research and informational interviews to give yourself the best chance to impress interviewers.

Early interviews aim to identify passion
Chances are the first round of interviews the investment bank will conduct will either take place on your college campus or by phone. A lot of people want investment banking jobs. Many times if the interview is taking place on your campus, the interviewer will actually be an alumni of your school, so take advantage of that connection off the bat. Early-round interviews will typically have a technical focus, so that recruiters can ensure you have an understanding of the industry and what will be required from you before seriously considering you as a candidate.  Your first interview may be followed by a second one also conducted on-campus or via phone.

Make sure you can nail foundational details of investment banking, the job details of interns – good thing you scheduled all those informational interviews! – and the company for these early-round interviews to make sure you make it to the next round.

In interviews you should display your passion for investment banking, as well as the ability to take initiative in all sorts of situations.In interviews you should display your passion for investment banking, as well as the ability to take initiative in all sorts of situations.

The next round will focus more on you specifically, and what you as an intern can do to help the investment bank. You won’t be expected to be able to display years of experience in the field, of course, but you should be able to show that you are willing and more than able to contribute. The Vault listed the following questions that interviewers might ask you to determine whether you’re a good fit for the bank:

Describe a situation when you had to meet multiple competing deadlines, and if you met them
Again, this doesn’t have to be an experience you had at a real investment bank, because chances are you don’t have many of those if any at all. Instead, speak about extracurricular activities, volunteer service or classroom deadlines if you don’t have prior internship experience. Speak about how you prioritized different deadlines and the steps you took to meet them. If you didn’t meet those deadlines, then talk about what you learned.

“You’ll be expected to handle a variety of situations on your own.”

Talk about a time when you faced a crisis, and had no one there to give you advice – what did you do?
You’ll be expected to handle a variety of situations on your own during an investment banking internship. Interviewers will want to make sure you can do this. Illustrate your common sense, problem-solving skills and ability to take charge through your answer. Also review how everything turned out following the crisis, and what you learned from the experience.

Questions such as these will help interviewers determine if you will be an asset to the bank. Sure, this may not be a full-time job, but interns are important in their own right and you’ll be expected to contribute, a lot. Follow through with research and provide confident, honest answers to show you have what it takes to succeed.