How do I nail an Informational Interview with head of division?

Hey guys,

So I have a 15-20 min informational interview coming up next week with the division head of TMT at an EB (think Lazard, Houlihan, Evercore).

I know that he can potentially get me an interview, heck even hire me for an intern if he wants (although I know that won't happen) but I just wanted to know if I needed to prepare anything in advance before my call. (I.E. Technicals, current deals, etc).

I've had informational calls with associates/VP's but this is the first time really talking to someone really high up and I don't want to come off as an idiot.

Thank you!

Comments (28)

May 22, 2017

Get your elevator pitch down. A 15-20 minute informational interview is plenty of time to even ask for an internship.

    • 1
May 22, 2017

Wouldn't it be a stretch if I just asked about internship? I don't want to sound too demanding from the start since I'm really grateful he's giving me time in the first place.

May 22, 2017

No, in order to be SUCCESSFUL, you need to GRAB what you WANT out of their cold, lifeless, CORPSE. You must be DEMANDING.

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May 22, 2017
<span itemprop=name>thecoolkid1234</span>:

Wouldn't it be a stretch if I just asked about internship? I don't want to sound too demanding from the start since I'm really grateful he's giving me time in the first place.

If you want the internship, you have to ask. Stop worrying about how you sound and these VP's might have big egos but you know that already.

    • 1
May 22, 2017

As you said, prep yourself for technicals, just incase he does push you on those. But as it's only a 15-20 minute call, it'd be a push for him to grill you on a bunch of technicals. But do prepare for the worst. All in all, just make sure you have the answers to the very basic questions down to a tee. Try and think of solid answers that resonate with your own story, and you'll have to say it in a way that demonstrates your enthusiasm. Have a good reason as to why you want to enter in the industry. Make it unique to yourself and don't give a generic answer.

May 22, 2017

Alright that sounds great, by how should I end the conversation that hints toward an internship? Usually I end it by asking for a coffee chat in NY sometimes later and then see how the process works out from there.

However I feel like this man wouldn't have the time to do a coffee chat since I booked this informational interview one month in advance so he seems like he doesn't have the time for that.

May 22, 2017

I would consider ending off with something along the lines of:

'I really appreciate the time you've taken out of your day to speak to me. It has reaffirmed my interest in applying to Firm X. Do you have any advice for the application process, and what Firm X looks for in applicants?'

Doesn't have to be rehearsed as that, but something along those lines. It's not directly asking for him to push your resume, but it hints to it in a discrete way. Then it's kind of up to him. Others may prefer a more direct approach, but it's entirely up to you.

After he gives you an answer, finish off by saying quick thank you and asking whether he'd be happy for you to stay in touch with him.

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May 22, 2017

Okay sounds great, I'll look over the technicals (hopefully he doesn't ask that...just yet). And hopefully as long as I don't come off poorly he'll want to help a student from his alma mater. Thank you for your help!

May 22, 2017

I used to ask in this way as well. Gives him the opportunity to say yes or no without looking like an ass.

For a higher level guy, you should have questions that are different than what you would ask an analyst / associate. Think along the lines of, "what things did you learn at the different levels that were successful to your progression (or what skills were important at each step)?"

    • 1
May 27, 2017

Great second para

May 22, 2017

someone really high

That's me, kiddo!

    • 1
Best Response
May 24, 2017

Just take it easy and go. Come to the meeting with some genuine questions that are appropriate for an MD (more on that below).

Appropriate: "I know that many banks encourage people to apply to particular groups ahead of time - I'm thinking of group X and Y, but am not sure how to weigh deciding factor Z. Can you help me determine how much emphasis to put on Z?

Not Appropriate #1 - Too simple: "What is the minimum GPA required for this?" - you could've looked on the website for that.

Not Appropriate #2 - Too Complex/Try Hard: "What do you think the effects of Basel III regulations have/will be on your dealflow? - This is a question that at worst will catch the person offguard and make them embarassed, and at best will make you look like someone with no sense of proportion.

Go through the conversation with questions like the above. Regardless of answers, this will demonstrate that you're smart/on top of things, know how to conduct a professional conversation, aren't a try hard.

THEN, at the end of your conversation, make your ask. At this point in the conversation, either of yes or no are an answer the MD can comfortably give. If yes, it's because you just proved yourself as an enterprising young man with a good head on his shoulders. If no, it's because you just proved yourself as an enterprising young man with a good head on his shoulders, but through no fault of your own, he is not in a position to offer an internship.

EDIT: A good maxim to follow for what questions to ask is: "Is the answer to this question available to me through some other means? And, is the answer to this question relevant to my goal of landing an IB position"?

The MD is there in the spirit of mentorship to help you answer questions you can't get a straight answer to elsewhere. So don't waste his/her time with something too simple or grandiose. Unless this is the guy/gal that's hiring you (and maybe even if it is), don't be afraid to expose some vulnerability when asking questions - it shows you're genuine and you're man enough to have a discussion about something substantial rather than something manicured.

"I'm a non-target and am willing to do everything possible to show that I mean business despite my nontraditional background. Anything you would recommend in addition to [things you've already been doing]?"

"I've heard that long term, the career trajectory for professionals in groups similar to yours is [X]. Do you think that's an accurate assessment?"

Obviously, use some judgment on phrasing and content. Try to avoid anything that is accusatory (obviously), and phrase things in a way where there's always a comfortable/"safe" answer within reach for the MD that won't result in him/her being embarrassed.

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May 29, 2017

Thank you for your response! Didn't expect people to respond to this nor did I get any notifications but thankfully my interview is postponed another two weeks (contacted by his secretary the other day) so I'll still have time.

I've had a couple interviews between last time I posted this and now so I'm starting to have a better feel for having an actual conversation.

Thank you for your tip and help! Will come back with results in two to three weeks!

May 24, 2017

Let us know how it wen't and how you ended up going about asking for a resume push/internship

May 29, 2017

Will do!

Jun 28, 2017

Finally had the call! Man the call did not go the way I assumed. But in the end he told me he'll be forwarding my resume and we'll be meeting up in NY mid-august for coffee.

Jul 11, 2017

If you don't mind me asking, what do you mean if didn't go the way you assumed?

May 24, 2017

@thecoolkid1234" is this your first time talking with him? Also is it in person or over the phone (my answer will change slightly depending on this).

First of all the MD is not an idiot and he knows that you're trying to land an internship. With this being said I would focus on a few topics/things you want out of him.

Once you have this down do your research and ask questions that can't be Googled per se and are specific to his area of expertise. In addition I would know technical questions but I would be surprised if he starts quizzing you on the spot.

In short treat this as an information gathering opportunity and find ways to ask about getting hired without being straight forward and saying, "Can I get an interview?"

Some questions you can potentially ask:

1.) Future of TMT advisory given the rise of boutique, specialized firms vs BB

2.) Ask about his background and ask for specific advice on becoming a successful banker (people love talking about themselves)

3.) Ask about what he looks for in a successful, ideal candidate (this can help you guage where you rank or what you lack)

4.) Current challenges faced by the firm (if some of these sound familiar and you have experience fixing or providing a solution, mention it)

May 29, 2017

Its my first time talking to him and it will be over the phone.

I'm trying to find the right balance to ask about his career/TMT group and IB in general.

May 24, 2017

Easy. Make sure to stroke his ego the same way you stroke something else with a big box of tissues and lotion. It has to be genuine though. You have to believe it

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May 24, 2017

people underestimate just being humble and demonstrating interest. Make it clear that you like learning and above all don't try to sound like you know too much about the industry as an undergrad. i fucking hate when people give advice as simple as this but I swear it actually holds true.

"It seems like alot of my peers are doing x,y, and z (make them sound like hardos) but i dont think i ever wouldve considered doing that. Is activity like that actually necessary to break into the field? I mean im interested because it's competitve and I like learning but I dont know where the line is drawn between doing what's necessary to achieve this career and wasting some of the most precious years of my life. I dont really have any connections in a position like youre in so id love to hear an honest opinion"

"do you find that alot of people in this industry are strictly here for their own best interests or is there any trace of camaraderie? I mean I get that you gotta look out for yourself given the compettive nature of the business but I'd imagine these hours are alot more tolerable if you feel obligated to help out your team"

idk, maybe im wrong and got lucky, but this angle has worked worlds better for me than asking about specific policies and whatnot. These guys have a million brainiacs applying to their firm that they could easily hire. Try to get them to see a younger version of themsemselves in you, everyone thinks highly of themself so if you can accomplish that then in turn theyll think highly of you.

May 24, 2017

There's some highly questionable, borderline bullshit advice on here.

I'm assuming you're a rising junior. If you're not, my advice would be different. But assuming you are, you should not be asking for an internship outright. It's incredibly arrogant to assume you'll be able to circumvent the entire recruitment process at an EB after a 15-20 minute conversation. Also, be extremely wary when asking about applying to a specific group as an above poster mentioned. EBs generally have generalist internship programs, so you can come off as not having done your homework on the bank if you ask this.

As far as what you should talk about during your conversation, in general, you should focus on learning more about the industry and making yourself seem genuinely interested in the conversation. It's good to ask questions about the specific industry/product group the MD works at, what his/her day-to-day job is like, and what his/her career trajectory was like
+ what drew this MD to banking. DON'T ask generic questions like "What do you like about your job?" and "Can I transfer to another location during my full-time stint?"

If you're a rising sophomore, by all means, ask for an internship. But given how late it is, it's likely there isn't a spot available for you.

Mar 25, 2018