What can I expect in the interview process?
The interview process can vary greatly across firms and industries in finance. For example, a small Private Equity firm of 10 people may have half a dozen interviews consisting of technical interviews coupled with social functions to ensure that you fit with the company. There is, however, usually a general structure to the interview process for the majority of larger firms in finance.
- First round interview (this may be over the phone if the company does not recruit at your school or on-campus if they do, some firms may even have you come to their office)
- If you make it past the first round, you will either be invited to a second round in person interview or if the first round was already in person, you may be invited to a “ ”. A "super day" consists of many interviews with all levels of professionals at the target firm and usually takes all day.
- Some firms send out offers after a super day, however smaller firms may be more interested in fit and include activities such as taking you to dinner or a sporting event.
The process is very similar for both Summer Analyst and full-time Analyst positions, and for some firms it may include an online assessment test before the first round of interviews.
The first round of interviews will usually consist of behavioral questions; however, depending on the firm and the interviewer you may be asked some technical questions as well. It is important to be well-prepared for the interviews before you even start networking, so this should not be a problem. A solid performance will usually result in an invitation to a firm’s Super Day or a second round interview. If you are located in a different city, most firms will pay for some form of transportation, and sometimes lodging.
Super days usually take place on a Friday. You will meet with and be interviewed by employees from all levels, from analysts to senior MDs. Each interview may last about 30 minutes and you could have ten or more interviews in a single day. In every interview, you will have to answer these types of questions:
- Your story (generally this is where you are asked to walk them through your resume)
- Fit questions (why IB? why PE? Why this bank? Why this fund?)
- Technical questions (accounting, modeling, financial knowledge)
Following each stage, the people responsible for conducting these interviews will get together and discuss the merits of each candidate. It is important to keep in mind that you are being interviewed by people, not computers. While there may still be some bias to select candidates from traditional target schools with impressive GPAs, if you have made it this far, “pedigree” will likely play a much smaller role in the decision compared to your performance in the final rounds.
If you’re not asked back for another interview, you can’t let this keep you down. You should always make sure to apply to as many firms as possible that you are interested in – at the very least, having more interviews will help polish your interview skills.
- Relevant WSO Guides: Behavioral Interview Guide and Technical Interview Guide
- Relevant WSO Services: Wall Street Mentors Mock Interviews and Career Coaching, , and Finance Resume and Cover Letter Review
- Relevant WSO Forums: Get a Job