Story time: My horrible BB Analyst interview experience

What's up folks-

I recently became a poster here from a lurker dating back a year ago. I really wanted to share this with you guys to get your thoughts. Forgive me for the length, but writing this all out actually felt really good and I think it will really help paint the picture.

Recently, I had an interview for a FT Analyst spot at a BB (MS/JPM/GS/Citi). I'm a non-target so I landed it by studying sites like WSO/M&I and it was my first regular interview for a true IBD firm. I was excited and committed early to doing everything right to be prepared. I had reached out to a number of analysts and got good responses. I picked up the vault guide and read textbooks to learn valuation and the investment banking business. Everything was going swell.

Now fast forward to after actually landing the interview. I got the notification about a week out to respond with my availability, which I did. I did my reviews to ensure that I was up to par and updated my contacts to let them know I was excitedly invited for a phone interview. On the day of, it was raining. My network is Sprint. As it turns out, it is a pretty crappy service because I got to my chosen location to take the phone call, but I got no ring. Nothing. Not even a voicemail.

As you might have guessed, I was devastated. The weight from not understanding what happened kept me seated in that chair for 5-10 minutes. I was already working somewhere else because this was post-graduate. But before I could go back into the office, I needed to walk off the shock I had just found myself in. After about 15 minutes or so, I walked back into the office and sat down at my desk. While working for 10-15 minutes, I noticed a notification popped up on my screen: it was a voicemail from the interviewer from 40 minutes ago! Fucking Sprint!! Arghh!

Anyways, I responded right away and informed him I had 'technology issues'. He was nice about it and said that he was willing to reschedule. Being confused and not knowing how the missed call was going to affect my candidacy left me worried about my chances. I ended up unable to reschedule at his convenience, which led to the exchange going cold for the rest of the night (I had been working at my role for about 6/7 months, and these women whom I work with tend to take anything you do for yourself personally). I waited the next day, hoping that the interviewer would reach out with a response for a time. It never came. So I decided to follow up that afternoon. In about 20 minutes or so, the interviewer came back and asked me if I could chat in about two hours, which I accepted.

This was not unexpected, but still somewhat sudden to interview in two hours. Also, given that I was at work for the day, I hardly had time to really get myself in the mood for the interview. When the time finally came, I ended up taking the call in a Five Guys and this place was playing music all day way too loud, with characters shuffling through ever so distractedly. I was not very happy, and even more irritated by it today because there are quiet rooms in the office that I didn't want to use out of fear that the ladies I work with would use the situation to antagonize me further for not doing things the way they want.

The call was scheduled for 15 minutes but ended up going for 25. The questions were mostly technical as only one was behavioral. Actually, the behavioral question was 'tell me more about yourself,' and led to him revealing that we were from the same state and grew up within fairly close proximity of each other. I was nervous of going off on a tangent, so I simply replied "that's awesome!"

The technical questions were your basic ones: walk me through a DCF; what happens to the three financial statements when depreciation increases; can you tell me what is free cash flow. I nailed all of them which as much gusto as I could muster with rock roaring in my other ear! On the last one, the FCF question, I started from net income uncomfortably because I had a brain freeze and couldn't think of why one can start from net income or EBIT, in a classic case of temporary lapse in brain power.

Ultimately, I thought that once we were able to finally have the interview, I did things that were good to help my candidacy. Of course at the end he allowed me to ask him some questions. I already knew about the firm and had distinguished it from its peers and others based on its merits, so I decided to ask him questions that would get him to detail more about his experiences. All in all, I feel like the interview went well despite the fact that I was so unmatched coming from a non-target/non-traditional background, with the unfortunate shakeup of missing the call. I recently came across the interviewer's profile online and it made me recall the experience, somewhat eerily.

I started to wonder, "what went wrong?" But I guess everything went wrong from the hesitation on the FCF question to the short of fully confident background story to the lack of proper preparation to prevent some trivial network issue or distracting background noises. Honestly, I had to write this out because thinking about it made me feel like I am hopeless for making these blunders when I probably didn't deserve the chance in the first place. What do you guys think?

Comments (41)

May 5, 2016 - 11:49pm
cicit123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for sharing the story. My advice is to be more confident in future interview and think positively. Turn your non traditional background to your strength, because your experience is unique and it is more interesting than all those target kids. Stay strong, good opportunity will come.

May 6, 2016 - 1:33am
richaf, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Dude keep your head up man. You'll land more interviews and this experience will only help you. Interviewing is a skill, and you only get better as you go along. By the time you have your 3rd or 4th interview, you'll feel much more comfortable. Also, don't blame yourself too much. You didn't really have control over the network situation. Personally, I've had some cringeworthy interviews that were much worse than yours. You feel bad about for a few days, but just learn from it and move on.

May 6, 2016 - 3:03am
takenotes08, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My first interview was for an internship with a PE focused on FoF. The interviewer asked me why I wanted to work in PE and I confidently explained to him that I wanted to work in direct PE because it gave you exposure to the operations of different business while working the financials. The interviewer asked me if I was aware I was interviewing for a position with a FoF and that they were not a direct fund... it got pretty awkward and the interview ended 5mins after lol.

That being said, dont worry everyone has some cringe worthy interview stories.

May 6, 2016 - 7:18am
laughing_man, what's your opinion? Comment below:
takenotes08:

My first interview was for an internship with a PE focused on FoF. The interviewer asked me why I wanted to work in PE and I confidently explained to him that I wanted to work in direct PE because it gave you exposure to the operations of different business while working the financials. The interviewer asked me if I was aware I was interviewing for a position with a FoF and that they were not a direct fund... it got pretty awkward and the interview ended 5mins after lol.

That being said, dont worry everyone has some cringe worthy interview stories.

Haha! I can relate.

Array
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May 13, 2016 - 7:03pm
Jake Flash, what's your opinion? Comment below:
takenotes08:

My first interview was for an internship with a PE focused on FoF. The interviewer asked me why I wanted to work in PE and I confidently explained to him that I wanted to work in direct PE because it gave you exposure to the operations of different business while working the financials. The interviewer asked me if I was aware I was interviewing for a position with a FoF and that they were not a direct fund... it got pretty awkward and the interview ended 5mins after lol.

That being said, dont worry everyone has some cringe worthy interview stories.

Absolutely did this in undergrad in a phone interview for an $10bn endowment that does mostly FoF allocation. They were clearly very interested in my candidacy: academics, internships, etc for the first 20 min of the call.

Then they asked why I wanted to work for them. And I said something about the purpose of their endowment and about enjoying evaluating companies and picking stocks. They asked me to expand on that. So I did--primarily on the latter point. Then they explained that they rarely take positions in individual companies and did mostly allocation to managers...it got real awkward after that.

Needless to say, I did not get that position and learned a very important lesson.

May 15, 2016 - 3:46pm
WalMartShopper, what's your opinion? Comment below:
takenotes08:

My first interview was for an internship with a PE focused on FoF. The interviewer asked me why I wanted to work in PE and I confidently explained to him that I wanted to work in direct PE because it gave you exposure to the operations of different business while working the financials. The interviewer asked me if I was aware I was interviewing for a position with a FoF and that they were not a direct fund... it got pretty awkward and the interview ended 5mins after lol.

That being said, dont worry everyone has some cringe worthy interview stories.

sb'd

I had one for risk management analyst set up by a low rent recruiter out of undergrad. They asked about what I think the biggest risk to manage and I said 'communication' because many errors and confusion cause loss of productivity lol

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!
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May 6, 2016 - 5:04am
underdogsinceboyscout, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I had an almost similar interview once (except the phone problems) and also did not go to the next round, but it took them forever to give me a no. I was also puzzled for weeks why and went over the questions and answers 100times. Just see it as a learning experience, sometimes you do a good job but the interviewer felt others were better. its subjective. For example: some prefer that you should not talk about "I did" "I created" because they want to have a team person. Others told me "you only talk about "we and the team|, what was your role?"

Keep your head up and you will ace another one.

Make Donald Drumpf again
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Dec 17, 2017 - 3:55am
imsurance, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Be glad this isn't you: Worst interviews (Originally Posted: 07/03/2016)

Just remember, it can always be worse...

From Vice:

I am interviewing this guy who is wearing a funeral suit (a.k.a. the only suit you have that is way too big for you and you wear it to every formal gathering). He is also wearing a beanie. Five minutes into the interview he realizes he is wearing his beanie and so he takes it off, but forgets that he has a giant wad of toilet paper stuck to his head from a giant pimple he must've popped prior to the interview. The toilet paper is stuck to his head, and he is trying to rip it off, but the blood has clotted and is holding the tissue to his head. I'm sitting there like WTF and swallowing my laughs. (I laugh when shit hits the fan, it's a nervous thing.) Finally he gives up, and I proceed to interview him while toilet paper that is covered in blood is stuck to his head. He is also holding the wad he pulled off in his hand the hold time. Very awkward.
This one woman didn't even get to the interview before fucking it up. We'd set up an appointment with her. About half an hour before she was supposed to come in, she sends an email: "This is probably going to sound odd, but my turtle unexpectedly got very sick, and I had to deal with a lot of back and forth to the vet." She said she'd call the next day to discuss when she could come in. An hour after her weird cancellation, she wrote us back with an update. "Don't worry! I am walking my turtle in the park to get some sunlight."

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/recruiters-share-their-worst-job-interviews

Dec 17, 2017 - 3:57am
Matrick, what's your opinion? Comment below:

sounds horrible. The pizza of the floor is pretty disgusting tho

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

Dec 17, 2017 - 3:59am
neink, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Is the turtle ok now?

Never discuss with idiots, first they drag you at their level, then they beat you with experience.

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Dec 17, 2017 - 4:02am
Esuric, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Finally, someone with a heart.

“Elections are a futures market for stolen property”
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Dec 17, 2017 - 4:03am
N0DuckingWay, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The one about burning the ex's house down is pretty hilarious. And scary.

"There's nothing you can do if you're too scared to try." - Nickel Creek
May 6, 2016 - 9:11am
SearedSalmon, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sounds like you're doing everything right, in this case you just have to get lucky. This time everything seemed to go wrong but at another time it will go right. You will do everything exactly the same way but for some reason get an offer. Don't underestimate the amount of luck involved (as long as you put in the effort on your part). Good luck!

Best Response
May 6, 2016 - 2:59pm
Sil, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You honestly need to find a place with good cell phone reception and one that is quiet where you can take these calls. I am surprised that he rescheduled after you missed the first call, and I am even more surprised that he didn't immediately end the call after hearing the loud background noise at Five Guys.

EDIT: Me getting MSed is why we Certified Users never help any of you ungrateful college kids. We give honest advice, and this is what we get.

May 6, 2016 - 5:12pm
N0DuckingWay, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Agreed. Just go to the spot a day or two beforehand and try it out!

"There's nothing you can do if you're too scared to try." - Nickel Creek
May 6, 2016 - 10:22am
Esuric, what's your opinion? Comment below:

..

“Elections are a futures market for stolen property”
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May 6, 2016 - 12:41pm
StoicTrader, what's your opinion? Comment below:

lol, why would you take a phone interview in a five guys? go outside your office, find a remote location couple blocks down at coffee shop/quiet place outside and talk. =/

twitter: @StoicTrader1 instagram: @StoicTrader1
May 6, 2016 - 4:09pm
Yeezy's Flesh, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It was last minute and it made sense at the time because I thought I would grab something to eat before/after the talk. Besides, my service was now a risk so I wanted to find a place where I knew I wouldn't have a problem. (Shows you how much I like to eat burgers.)

May 6, 2016 - 1:47pm
CanadianWIB, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Keep your head up! I had an interview that i thought i bombed, turns out i got the job. Everyone thinks they interview worse then they did.

May 6, 2016 - 6:55pm
Premia, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Except for people who always think they interviewed better than they did.

Array
May 6, 2016 - 3:50pm
Anarchyz11, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I understand thinking outside the box for an interview location to get reception, but a five guys?

Library, book store, on a bench in a park, a coffee shop, at your friend's house, standing in a parking lot, in your car.

These are all more suitable options than a crowded five guys.

Array
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May 8, 2016 - 12:57am
steven23234, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There will always be situations where you need to work in difficult or time sensitive situations on the job and you need to be able to handle them smoothly. Given the number of financial training services out there you can't afford to miss basic technical questions.

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May 15, 2016 - 4:25pm
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Honestly, from your story it seems that your only screw up is taking the call from five guys. That was dumb.

Rescheduling the call is not an issue, sometimes you might get to an asshole who will make a big deal out of it, but in general ppl understand.

Going a bit on a tangent and exploring how else you can relate to the guy on the other side of the table can drastically help you in getting to the next round. Don't be afraid to ask one-two more questions. Your response of simple "that's awesome" might have made him feel that you didn't give a shit, while he was investing time into interviewing you. Banker's job is to build relationships, and knowing more about the person you are talking to makes that relationship stronger.

May 15, 2016 - 9:53pm
John Clayton, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Honestly, from your story it seems that your only screw up is taking the call from five guys. That was dumb.

Rescheduling the call is not an issue, sometimes you might get to an asshole who will make a big deal out of it, but in general ppl understand.

Going a bit on a tangent and exploring how else you can relate to the guy on the other side of the table can drastically help you in getting to the next round. Don't be afraid to ask one-two more questions. Your response of simple "that's awesome" might have made him feel that you didn't give a shit, while he was investing time into interviewing you. Banker's job is to build relationships, and knowing more about the person you are talking to makes that relationship stronger.

May 16, 2016 - 11:50am
M_As_In_Mancy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not to mention going off on a tangent = less time for technical questions. I had an interview on my superday with an associate where we talked about college football (I was currently playing and he played in college) for 5-10 min.

Like John Clayton said, this guy gave you an easy way to connect with him and turn it into a conversation. Obviously they need to check the boxes on technicals to make sure you are competent, but the primary purpose of interviews is to see if this is a person they want to be around for 80+ hours a week.

In short, when there is an opening to go off on a brief tangent, take it

May 16, 2016 - 12:59pm
Yeezy's Flesh, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Facilis inventore est nihil dolorem. Deserunt iure accusamus asperiores quo voluptatibus quis. Aliquam rerum sapiente non iusto suscipit qui.

May 18, 2016 - 12:53pm
Davistaz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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