Answering the "walk me through your resume" question in an investment banking interview

The key to this question is providing an in-depth answer that lasts roughly 2 minutes in length. You need to make sure that you give enough info without providing a novel of an answer. You should briefly mention where you grew up, where you attended college (and better why you decided to pick the college), what your major is (and why your choose it). When discussing your college experience, be sure to highlight any summer internships (professional) even if they are non-finance related and any clubs where you have a leadership role on campus. Be sure to focus your response on professional internships (lifeguarding doesn't count) and clubs where you serve as a leader - much more powerful than discussing clubs where you are simply a member.

See below for samples of a poor answer and a great answer.

Poor answers
Poor answers to this question include ones that ramble on. If you are giving your life history to the interviewer, you are surely failing the question. The interviewer is looking to see whether you know how to present a succinct response again in case they ever decide to put you in front of a client. The other purpose of this question is to see whether you know how to separate essential information from non-essential information - an important skill in finance.

Great answers
Great answers to this question include ones that are planned out. Your response should actually be memorized. You should plan out the response to this question well in advance of an interview because you will most certainly receive it at some point. The best thing to do is literally write out a response hitting the key points you want to make and literally time it.
If you find your answer is more than 2 minutes (give or take 30 seconds), trim down some of the "fat" in the response.

Final thoughts, don't underestimate this question. Believe it or not, it is a deal breaker for some interviewers and is one of the few questions that you can prepare for because you should be expecting it.

Sample great answer

"After graduating from high school in Basking Ridge, NJ, I decided to attend the University of Notre Dame. I chose Notre Dame because of the school's strong academics and strong athletics. Having lettered in three sports in high school all four years, I wanted a school where students pack the stadiums but also take academics seriously. Notre Dame was the perfect choice for me.

At Notre Dame, I majored in finance and was actively involved in student government as a Class Council Rep and as a Senator. I chose finance because I knew that it would lead me to a career that was both quantitative in nature and involved significant interaction with people. During my college summers, I decided to enter the corporate world at the end of my freshman year and started my career at General Electric.

The next summer I worked at Goldman Sachs and the following summer at Merrill Lynch. Such experience was invaluable because it singlehandedly shaped what I want to do with my future career. Having been a summer Analyst both at Goldman and Merrill, I know for certain that investment banking is the right career path for me and I'd very much like to work for [insert company name]."

Comments (37)

Mar 5, 2012

Thank you.

Mar 6, 2012

Sample answer could've been better. Interviewee forgot to mention curing cancer.

Mar 9, 2012

Just had an interview and this was the first question asked. This thread made me practice my speech. Thanks so much WSO!

Mar 9, 2012

The key to walk me as follows:

1) Say you went to XX HS/School/Prep whatever in whatever state.
2) Say why you chose the school you did.
3) What and why you chose your major
4) Tie your first experience to finance with school progression.
5) Arrive at why your previously mentioneds led you here

Keep brief, add a little color if you feel comfortable, pretty much just read off your resume. They'll ask questions if they want to know anymore. Keep it simple as possible. Practice it a couple times and you'll realize how much of lay up question it is.

  • vanillathunder12
  •  Mar 9, 2012

I completely agree with Stringer Bell and would add the following:

1) Try to keep it in the 1:20 to 1:30 range.
2) Through some buzz words for the more important things on your resume (models, prior trading, etc.).
3) You want to give them enough so they have a general sense of what you did and ask follow on questions for more details.
4) Practice with a friend or career services mock interviewer. Have them count how many times you say 'um' and ask for general feedback.
5) I have my resume set up in reverse chronological order but answer the question chronologically like a one minute story of my professional life.

Remember to guage your interviewer. If they are checking their Blackberry when you are twenty seconds into it, shorten up your pitch. Likewise, if they remain interested you might be able to go a little longer.

If high school is important for how you became interested in finance then talk about it, if not then leave it out.

Mar 9, 2012

You can talk about Highschool if it is relevant and explains your thinking as to how you ended up where you are now. The key during this question is to explain your thinking so they can see if you are a person that is driven and meticulously calculates your life decisions, or if you gander through life and fall into opportunities as they come to you.

Mar 9, 2012

As everybody says experience is an important content of an resume but what i think you should highlight your achievements. what you have accomplished in your previuos job .. Many companies dont show interest in experience but have a keen interest in achievement and whether you can deliver the same for their company or not

hope this helps

Mar 9, 2012

A great answer to this question is to tell your interviewer your story as you walk through the resume.

"Well, it all started when I got a 36 on my ACTs. That and being on the hockey team helped me get into UPenn... I've done pretty well here getting a 3.5 GPA and TA'ing an accounting class..."

Mar 9, 2012

Check out the WSO behavioral guide if you haven't already. It gives some pretty solid advice on this topic.

Mar 9, 2012

Check out this article, which will walk you through the best way to answer this question including the pitfalls and best strategies. If you have any other questions, feel free to PM me.

Mar 9, 2012

they don't care if you were a circus clown or if you did some real work at a real company/bank. The main thing is - can this person pitch and can they make it concise? Nothing will hurt your chances more than a rambling answer.

Mar 9, 2012

If you think the best way to interview is to answer the question in a set time limit and then wait for the next question, you are doing it wrong. The interview should be a flowing conversation, so that initial 2 minutes can turn into 5 and can even turn into 30 minutes. There's no set guidelines and it is ridiculous you expect an actual answer to this.

...and I did not MS you.

Mar 9, 2012

@"yeahright" Great response. I totally agree It's just when every single guide and article on the topic says to do it one way but common sense dictates another way ..... I think its fair to get independent confirmation.

Mar 9, 2012

@yeahright Great response. I totally agree It's just when every single guide and article on the topic says to do it one way but common sense dictates another way ..... I think its fair to get independent confirmation.

Every guide that says to keep it under a specified short time limit is to make yourself not look like a blubbering fool.

Mar 9, 2012

I will give you a serious response

When it comes down to it an interview is a chance to explain stuff in plain words and a simple structure. There is really no one is this world that needs 5 minutes to explain themselves. Just focus on the most important shit.

Mar 9, 2012

I will give you a serious response

When it comes down to it an interview is a chance to explain stuff in plain words and a simple structure. There is really no one is this world that needs 5 minutes to explain themselves. Just focus on the most important shit.

Well said.

Mar 9, 2012

Yeah, guideline. I have it down to 2+/- minutes and sometimes it never comes up. Last interview, the guy asked questions for like 45 minutes about my resume and then we shot the shit about how much PATH sucks for the rest of the interview. It's always different and the key point is that you should be able to very efficiently deliver an answer. If your interview turns into a real conversation, it's usually a good sign. Either that or the guy just had a raging hard on for PATH service, I can't tell.

    • 1
Mar 9, 2012

I would take "walk me through the resume" to mean "give me your elevator pitch". 30 seconds. Hit the highlights so they have fodder to ask questions about what piques their interest.

Yes, you can skip lower priority items. You don't have to discuss every single entry.

    • 1
Mar 9, 2012

I ask a candidate to "walk me through your resume" when I haven't pre-read it too thoroughly and don't have points I want to go to straight away. It gets the candidate talking and I can then use that to narrow in on some points.

EDIT: If a candidate actually walked me through the whole resume without me interrupting with questions that lead conversation off into areas, that would be a pretty bad sign for the candidate.

    • 1
Mar 9, 2012

high level, focus on the "why" you did certain things. e.g. why did you major in XYZ? why did you then decide to intern at BB X? what did you learn there, and why are you now interested in this job? should be a smooth and consistent story that gets them to the logical next step, that you're the perfect candidate for whatever job they happen to be recruiting for.

Mar 9, 2012

So would you think it would be better if I have a slightly longer story (about 1.5-2 minutes) and be prepared that the interviewer may interrupt me or just have a short story (<1 minute) and hope to finish the story?


Mar 9, 2012

Being able to tell your story effectively in less than 5 mins. On Mergers and Inquisitions, they have the format that I basically utilized and refined throughout my career since college.

Best Response
Mar 9, 2012

Being able to tell your story effectively in less than 5 mins.

This is exactly what it means. So many resumes are all buzzwords and bullshit. You want to hear a person's story in their own words and hear how they tell it as well.



I have done a few internships in finance, studied abroad and I am also a transfer student. I was wondering if I can just skip some of the clubs/activities.

"I've always wanted to work in (the business type you're interviewing for.) To gain experience in the industry, I worked on _____, ______, and _____ as a summer analyst at ______ where I learned ______. I really enjoyed ______. Prior to that, I also interned at ______, working a lot with _______. It was great to take what I learned in class and apply it to the real world. Some of my other activities include studying abroad in _____ which was fantastic because _____ as well as leading the _____ club in their efforts to _____."

Alright so there's still a lot of buzzwords and bullshit, but hey - it's business.

    • 2
Mar 9, 2012

a) Yes
b) You might mention very briefly in the "walk me through" or "tell me about yourself" portion (very briefly - this is not what this question is after). Otherwise just wait for it to come up naturally in other questions (e.g., "tell me about a time you led a team?")

Mar 9, 2012

Highlight how the progression of your experiences leads to the obvious conclusion that you should be working at the place you are interviewing. If it can't be woven into the story seamlessly, leave it out of that part of the conversation. Keep it short and sweet.

Mar 9, 2012

"Walk me through your resume" means "How is your past experience relevant to me?" This is basically the same question as "Tell me about yourself."

Just go into your elevator pitch.

Mar 9, 2012

Probably spend 2 minutes on college/internships/old positions. Then spend 2-5 minutes on your current position going a bit further into detail about the things you have listed.

Mar 9, 2012
Mar 9, 2012