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Posing the question for the benefit of prospective SA / FT analysts that may be looking for positions now.

1

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Comments (34)

  • CHItizen's picture

    If you contact me a few weeks before the resume drop, seem personable and genuinely interested in the job when speaking with me and have a decent resume (i.e. 3.5 GPA and some sort of demonstrated interest in finance), you are almost guaranteed an interview. Seriously, when I have a stack of 200 resumes and only a handful of those kids have talked to me, I wonder whose resumes I'm going to pull (or at least try to justify pulling)... And if you go to a school where networking is the norm and everyone does it, then you're going to have to do it anyway.

    One caveat - networking badly can hurt you. Don't be a jerk or a know it all. All you have to do is have real questions that you are curious about, and it certainly doesn't hurt if you already have some background on the person/firm.

  • Clever Name's picture

    Beyond all the normal stuff (3.7+, good work experience and extracurriculars) I want correct responses to the following:

    1) What investment banking is. "Investment bankers help companies grow by accessing the equity or debt markets or advise companies on strategic transactions like M&A, divestitures, etc."

    2) What an analyst does. "Analysts provide the required analysis that seniors bankers use in presentation materials to help guide their conversations with C-level executives at large corporations. Example analysis includes company profiles, valuation materials, and trading overviews."

    3) What publications/blogs/websites do you read to follow X industry (for industry bankers). I want to hear someone read TechCrunch if they want to join a tech group.

    4) What deals have you followed in the last twelve months. If you're interviewing for a tech banking job and you can't even mention the potential Dell take private or even the Facebook IPO, you will be dinged.

    When one man, for whatever reason, has an opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.

  • TechBanking's picture

    The utmost basics from the tech interview guides. I once had to interview a candidate that didn't know what A = L + OE was. How they got through the phone screen, I have no idea?

  • humble_dude's picture

    Don't imagine what characteristics a banking analyst suppose have and use those traits to package yourself, it's fake, it is not effective, it prevents you from showing your true strength and you can't do it forever.

    Be yourself, and like Morpheus said to Neo: "Free your mind."

    (P.S. This is assuming you are extremely well prepared for your technical questions)

  • In reply to TechBanking
    Falcon's picture

    TechBanking:
    The utmost basics from the tech interview guides. I once had to interview a candidate that didn't know what A = L + OE was. How they got through the phone screen, I have no idea?

    I don't believe this lol, no way.
  • In reply to Falcon
    TechBanking's picture

    Falcon:
    TechBanking:
    The utmost basics from the tech interview guides. I once had to interview a candidate that didn't know what A = L + OE was. How they got through the phone screen, I have no idea?

    I don't believe this lol, no way.

    Sadly, this is true. The number of kids with great resumes that don't properly prepare for recruiting always shocked me.

  • Art of War's picture

    Would you say that, in a 30 min interview, u decide on a candidate within the first 5 min? and the other 25 min is just formality?

  • In reply to Art of War
    TechBanking's picture

    Art of War:
    Would you say that, in a 30 min interview, u decide on a candidate within the first 5 min? and the other 25 min is just formality?

    Not necessarily, I always started off in the first 10 minutes or so with more fit based questions and had the person walk through their resume. I've seen kids nail this and then bomb the technicals, which would disqualify them. I will say, if I didn't like you in the first 5 minutes, you weren't going to recover.

  • In reply to TechBanking
    job.resume's picture

    TechBanking:

    Not necessarily, I always started off in the first 10 minutes or so with more fit based questions and had the person walk through their resume. I've seen kids nail this and then bomb the technicals, which would disqualify them. I will say, if I didn't like you in the first 5 minutes, you weren't going to recover.

    What do you see candidates do, that make you not like them?

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  • TheFix's picture

    What is the most convincing "why investment banking" you've heard?

  • Prangs's picture

    How can a non-target turn a phone interview into a second round/superday? Like the best things he or she can do in the phone interview

  • ricottacheese's picture

    wish some people weren't so formal during networking/interviews - having the right attitude and passing the "elevator test" is absolutely essential.

  • In reply to Prangs
    ricottacheese's picture

    Prangs:
    How can a non-target turn a phone interview into a second round/superday? Like the best things he or she can do in the phone interview

    Once you have the interview, school (basically) doesn't matter - answer to your question is to do well in the phone interview just as if it was any other interview or if you were from a target school, no difference.
  • In reply to job.resume
    TechBanking's picture

    job.resume:
    TechBanking:

    Not necessarily, I always started off in the first 10 minutes or so with more fit based questions and had the person walk through their resume. I've seen kids nail this and then bomb the technicals, which would disqualify them. I will say, if I didn't like you in the first 5 minutes, you weren't going to recover.

    What do you see candidates do, that make you not like them?

    This is as much about feel than anything else...here are some things you look for:

    - Can the person shake my hand like an adult and look me in the eye? (if you have some bs weak handshake, you are already off to a bad start...if you have questions, practice it with a friend)
    - Does the person carry themselves in a way that makes me confident I can put them in front of a client's CEO?
    - Does the person dress in a professional manner? If you're wearing a black shirt with your suit or some other major faux pas, gtfo...
    - In initial questioning does the person come off as articulate and poised...again, could you be put in front of a client?
    - Can the person explain their story, and why it fits into what I'm looking for?
    - Does the person seem interesting to talk to? Have they had interesting experiences?
    - Does the person seem over confident/arrogant/annoying/jittery?
    - Does the person come off as intelligent?

  • In reply to TheFix
    TechBanking's picture

    TheFix:
    What is the most convincing "why investment banking" you've heard?

    There isn't a perfect answer to this question, only some really bad ones. As long as you can express both an understanding of what investment bankers do and why that is interesting to you, you'll be fine. If you can't even grasp what a banker does, you're screwed. Telling the interviewer that the prospect of long hours is exciting, makes them want to punch you in the face.

  • In reply to TechBanking
    jhughes's picture

    TechBanking:
    Art of War:
    Would you say that, in a 30 min interview, u decide on a candidate within the first 5 min? and the other 25 min is just formality?

    Not necessarily, I always started off in the first 10 minutes or so with more fit based questions and had the person walk through their resume. I've seen kids nail this and then bomb the technicals, which would disqualify them. I will say, if I didn't like you in the first 5 minutes, you weren't going to recover.

    I am interested in the part after the interview during superday. How do you discuss and decide on the candidates who got the offer? When candidates being interviewed by different people, how will the team decided on who will get the offer. Therefore, during superdays, other than nail the first 10 mins and go solid with technical, what else should make/break the interview.

    Thanks!

  • In reply to jhughes
    Davidoff's picture

    jhughes:
    TechBanking:
    Art of War:
    Would you say that, in a 30 min interview, u decide on a candidate within the first 5 min? and the other 25 min is just formality?

    Not necessarily, I always started off in the first 10 minutes or so with more fit based questions and had the person walk through their resume. I've seen kids nail this and then bomb the technicals, which would disqualify them. I will say, if I didn't like you in the first 5 minutes, you weren't going to recover.

    I am interested in the part after the interview during superday. How do you discuss and decide on the candidates who got the offer? When candidates being interviewed by different people, how will the team decided on who will get the offer. Therefore, during superdays, other than nail the first 10 mins and go solid with technical, what else should make/break the interview.

    Thanks!

    Also interested.
    And on superday interviews, how much weight do bankers put on the technicals? If this guy is interesting and clearly determined to do banking, but failed to answer the technicals due to the education backgroud, will this get him dinged no matter what?
    Thanks!

  • WallStreetPlayboys's picture

    This will be a long response so hopefully you guys can get some serious help from this post. The failure points are generally into four buckets.

    1. Failure to pass technicals. This is one that is more common at the low end. Not going to care if you're unable to do a DCF in your head but if you can't even write out the formula or tell me what EV/EBITDA means you're going to be in a world of hurt and likely will not get through round one. Generally would say this is less of an issue come super days because the normal process is to screen out the bad stuff in the first round with layup technicals and then stress you more in the superday to see how you react. People usually say "Oh I messed up one hard technical and that is why I did not get an offer" that's unlikely the case and it is much more likely one of the 3 pain points below.

    2. Failure to pass understanding of the job. If you do not know what you are signing up for we have a very hard time hiring you. As posted above if you cannot answer "Why Banking or Why this bank" get ready to be burned to the ground quick as well. One candidate came in an explained how much he enjoyed "picking" stocks, this was for an IB interview, so when asked "why don't you do research?" the entire conversation died.

    3. Failure on personality based questions. Two favorites are "Where do you see yourself in five years and are you smart or hard working". The first one is loaded because if you go on and on about how you want to exit into PE, you will be dinged. Seriously. You're interviewing for a bank and you're going to tell them you know for sure you're going to exit in 2 years to some mega shop? Instead would be smarter to phrase along the lines of you know for sure you want to be in wall street and say if you end up liking IB you would stay and if not would like PE/HF etc. But coming out the gate guns blazing and telling me you for sure are going to leave or go to HF/PE shows me you don't really know what 5 years means in the Street.

    Second question, if you answer "Smart" you will be grilled. This is similar to "how are your accounting skills?"... Why would you set up HIGH expectations in an interview? This is a bad move. Always veer on the side of being humble. If you tell me you're a "super smart guy" or "know accounting extremely well"... We will ask you harder questions and in addition ding you even harder if you miss any technical questions. You're just a college grad. Set expectations low if possible. Don't tell people you're a "genius" simply say you're hard working and know the "working basics" and are willing to learn. This way you get softer questions, we don't think you're arrogant and we are more willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

    4. Hard work or sales bucket. Generally at the low level banks look for two types of hires. 1. Sales, 2. Grind. Basically if we believe you are a smooth cat we may give you benefit of the doubt because you'd be cool to work with and appear ready to be placed in front of clients already. The second group is the "monster analyst" who somehow never complains and can work 100+ a week. This is why that cover letter that got sent around was so impressive, he made a hard push at group 2. He basically said "I won't complain, don't know anything but will run through brick walls for you". Now if you can get the interviewer to believe you are both get ready for a slew of offers because thats the ideal hire of course.

    Finally, the superday comment. Honestly this is usually decided upon within 24-48 hours. That fast. Meet up in conference room, put your name up on the chalk board and move accordingly. As always the MD's have more weight, or VP's etc. Some MD's actually don't care who is hired and simply say "I only DIDNT like one person" and that guy gets dinged. Overall your best bet of course is to shine in all groups. When push comes to shove the analysts will keel over. IE: if Ass-->MD all loved you and analysts thought you were "okay" you'll likely get a slot. Not sure how you can mess up an analyst interview though, you just pass technicals and then shoot the shit about anything you have in common from sports to schooling.

    That's about it.

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  • In reply to Art of War
    CHItizen's picture

    Art of War:
    Would you say that, in a 30 min interview, u decide on a candidate within the first 5 min? and the other 25 min is just formality?

    Depends on the interview. Sometimes within a few minutes, you can tell a kid is just very genuine, knowledgeable, interested in the job and your firm, and someone you feel like you'd like to work with. On the other hand, other candidates might start off shaky (due to nerves or whatever) but have solid answers for everything, in which case the whole interview matters.

    One thing is for sure though, it's certainly possible for an interview to be over and for you to get dinged within a few minutes, especially if you can't answer basic fit questions ("Why our firm?" or "Why banking?"... you'd be surprised at some of the answers).

  • In reply to jhughes
    CHItizen's picture

    jhughes:
    TechBanking:
    Art of War:
    Would you say that, in a 30 min interview, u decide on a candidate within the first 5 min? and the other 25 min is just formality?

    Not necessarily, I always started off in the first 10 minutes or so with more fit based questions and had the person walk through their resume. I've seen kids nail this and then bomb the technicals, which would disqualify them. I will say, if I didn't like you in the first 5 minutes, you weren't going to recover.

    I am interested in the part after the interview during superday. How do you discuss and decide on the candidates who got the offer? When candidates being interviewed by different people, how will the team decided on who will get the offer. Therefore, during superdays, other than nail the first 10 mins and go solid with technical, what else should make/break the interview.

    Thanks!

    Everyone gets together in a room and starts at the ends: the really good and really bad candidates. The bad ones get dinged, the good ones, assuming no objections, get offers. The hard part is ranking the middle 70-80% of candidates. Sometimes everyone is pretty favorable about a kid but he had one bad interview, and in those cases, it really comes down to a case by case basis. At some point you come up with an offer list and a couple back ups in case someone turns it down.

  • In reply to Davidoff
    CHItizen's picture

    Davidoff:
    jhughes:
    TechBanking:
    Art of War:
    Would you say that, in a 30 min interview, u decide on a candidate within the first 5 min? and the other 25 min is just formality?

    Not necessarily, I always started off in the first 10 minutes or so with more fit based questions and had the person walk through their resume. I've seen kids nail this and then bomb the technicals, which would disqualify them. I will say, if I didn't like you in the first 5 minutes, you weren't going to recover.

    I am interested in the part after the interview during superday. How do you discuss and decide on the candidates who got the offer? When candidates being interviewed by different people, how will the team decided on who will get the offer. Therefore, during superdays, other than nail the first 10 mins and go solid with technical, what else should make/break the interview.

    Thanks!

    Also interested.
    And on superday interviews, how much weight do bankers put on the technicals? If this guy is interesting and clearly determined to do banking, but failed to answer the technicals due to the education backgroud, will this get him dinged no matter what?
    Thanks!

    The answer is firm dependent, and more specifically, dependent on your group of interviewers and candidates. It also comes down to what kind of technicals you missed; if you can't tell me about the different debt seniority levels and how their covenants/terms/structure differ, that's most likely going to be OK, but if you can't tell me how $10 of depreciation runs through the three statements or at least a couple valuation methods, then you're most likely going to be dinged.

    To go back to your point about a kid really determined to do banking screwing up technicals...If a kid is indeed really passionate about banking, then he won't mess up easy technicals. The fact that you go to a liberal arts school with no b school should not stop you from learning basic accounting/finance (it's all in the guides these days anyway).

  • Bateman Begins's picture

    This thread should be stickied or something. It's one of the best posts I've read on WSO.
    Thanks to everyone for the detailed explanations.

    Read my blog: Bateman Begins

  • oppcostofcapital's picture

    That if you can't tell me what EBITDA or Free Cash Flow is, it's very hard to give a candidate a shot, given the abundance of public info on this site and on the internet about what investment banking is, what corporate finance is, and how an income statement works. Once you study enough, the concepts will make sense to you -- just like investment banking itself, it's about putting the time in.

  • In reply to oppcostofcapital
    TheSquale's picture

    oppcostofcapital:
    That if you can't tell me what EBITDA or Free Cash Flow is, it's very hard to give a candidate a shot, given the abundance of public info on this site and on the internet about what investment banking is, what corporate finance is, and how an income statement works. Once you study enough, the concepts will make sense to you -- just like investment banking itself, it's about putting the time in.

    I agree with you.
    Just one question: what, in your opinion, would the best tool to learn accounting and others basics stuff (like ratios) for an IB ITW ? A guide like BIWS or the WSO guide to technical questions ?

  • oppcostofcapital's picture

    definitely -- a great place to start would be vault, WSO, BIWS, any technical guides you can find -- also using the search function on these forums -- there are a lot of good technical questions on there -- but basically it's about the valuation methods, it's about accounting -- understanding the basics of the three statements, how they work, key and commonly used elements of them and why they're "common" in thinking about how to value businesses, and how the three statements flow together -- and understanding enterprise value. there are many many many great sources of information -- another one is www.macabacus.com for more M&A focused topics.

  • In reply to Clever Name
    mrb87's picture

    Clever Name:

    2) What an analyst does. "Analysts provide the required analysis that seniors bankers use in presentation materials to help guide their conversations with C-level executives at large corporations. Example analysis includes company profiles, valuation materials, and trading overviews."

    This is *the* most important factor to me, although I would add (as a corollary) that it's *very* important to express realistic expectations about the work. You will not be whispering in the ear of CEOs -- you will be fixing typos at 3am and deleting commas your MD had told you to insert earlier. The absolute worst analysts/summers I've ever working with were the ones that thought they were too good to spend 100 hours a week being a bitch.

  • In reply to mrb87
    CHItizen's picture

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