The hardest Investment Banking interview you've ever done

BrianHunter's picture
Rank: Neanderthal | 2,687

Personally, as a student without much IBD experience I only have this one to share regarding an an off cycle interview for a M&A boutique.

They closed me in a room without the internet, my phone etc. Then they asked me to develop a FCFF/FCFE --> DCF model from the scratch with only a few details provided.

I failed it, but I learned a lot.

How about you?

Comments (53)

Oct 13, 2017

That's not hard at all...it's actually something you're expected to know. I guess it comes down to details you are given though that would determine its difficulty.

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Oct 20, 2017

Well, today I'm sure to be able to do that, but I was at my 2nd year of Uni and haven't did yet corporate finance/finance subjects. I remember it as a sort of adrenaline nightmare

Oct 13, 2017

ib interviews aren't that bad honestly, I found that Hedge Funds generally have tough interviews because you can't prepare for what they're going to ask. I've definitely gotten stumped in IB interviews where they just rapid fired technicals at me but in my experience as long as you do stellar otherwise they'll allow you to botch a few technicals.

Wheras with some hedge fund interviews I've gotten brain teasers that I just simply couldn't crack, which is much more of a frustrating process. Even consulting interviews imo are more high stress because if you botch a case during a case interview then you just completely fucked up your entire interview and presentation. If you can't recall the full answer to one individual accounting question they'll sometimes overlook it.

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Oct 27, 2017
LReed:

ib interviews aren't that bad honestly, I found that Hedge Funds generally have tough interviews because you can't prepare for what they're going to ask.

Here to testify this. Had a rapid fire grilling session during my final round with a hedge fund yesterday.

We spent about 5 minutes discussing modelling and automation of something completely random. Think along the lines of "you are doing gardening at home, and you would like create a model that most efficiently gives you an overview of all the flowers in the flowerbeds in your garden. How would you design it?"

I answer, and the questions get gradually trickier. Then we got on to permutation questions, and one of the questions was how I would express a certain structure in an excel based formula. I had no idea how to do it, so started brainstorming with him. Did not get the full formula. After the interview, I googled the answer, and the working formula would cover four lines in the excel formula bar...

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Oct 27, 2017

good to know. Thanks for the insight

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Oct 19, 2017

One of my first interviews a few years back was at a PE shop. Thought it would be a standard 30 min interview but was 6 hours long and was grilled for a solid hour from basics to recaps and exits (IPO vs sale, how much to sell in IPO, what multiple). Didn't really get to the techs until 4 hours in or so and was so fried at that point. Really didn't belong in the room. Interviewer eventually started finishing the answers.

Had no fucking clue why they emailed me to come in and chat. Also they failed to mention it was unpaid until the end. Wouldn't have pursued it if I knew that in the first place. Learned a lot and never risked another shit show like that.

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Oct 20, 2017

LOL, sorry for your suffering but I did get a kick out of this. Sort of thing that would absolutely happen to me.

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Best Response
Oct 20, 2017

Wow. Unpaid yet they grilled you as if they were hiring you as an investment director or something. What a fucking joke if you ask me.

As for me, had an interview for an internship position at a boutique, and the guy kept hounding me on technicals, from basic accounting to shell premium calculations etc. None of that was too bad until he wanted me to do an LBO at the top of my head, no paper to work on or anything. Just kinda stared at him blankly for asking me to do something that retarded.

When he said to me towards the end "your grades are pretty shit" I just mentally stopped giving a crap and stopped paying attention for the remainder of the interview. He gave me a verbal offer but then later rescinded it because he felt I "lacked the technical knowledge". Later got an offer from a firm 10x the size of that one, and twice the pay, and all they cared about was "are you good with Excel?"

Funny how things work out.

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Oct 20, 2017

Gave an offer and then recsinded it... shocking. Some of these interviewers are just total d-bags and don't realize that while you may want the job you still have to be able to tolerate the people you work with, and that goes both ways.

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Oct 20, 2017
notbad4aquant:

Wow. Unpaid yet they grilled you as if they were hiring you as an investment director or something. What a fucking joke if you ask me.

As for me, had an interview for an internship position at a boutique, and the guy kept hounding me on technicals, from basic accounting to shell premium calculations etc. None of that was too bad until he wanted me to do an LBO at the top of my head, no paper to work on or anything. Just kinda stared at him blankly for asking me to do something that retarded.

When he said to me towards the end "your grades are pretty shit" I just mentally stopped giving a crap and stopped paying attention for the remainder of the interview. He gave me a verbal offer but then later rescinded it because he felt I "lacked the technical knowledge". Later got an offer from a firm 10x the size of that one, and twice the pay, and all they cared about was "are you good with Excel?"

Funny how things work out.

if i didn't care about relationship with HH, i would have gotten up and just left. life is too short to put up with this kind of shit

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Oct 22, 2017

I find a lot of it depends on who you're with. If someone wants to be a d-bag, then they will, and they will ruin your life for an hour or two...but if you're actually good and have done your homework, you move on and like NotBad said, can get an offer at an even better group.

Does the Tiger fire the Monkey? Does the Tiger transfer the Monkey to another branch?

Oct 27, 2017

What a fucking idiot! So you had to calculate the IRR of an LBO starting from entry Enterprise Value and do all the calculations such as debt repayment in your head?

I would have said to him: we've got Excel to do that, you know?

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Oct 20, 2017

Sounds brutal...I find it funny how sometimes the companies with the shittiest pay have the hardest PE interviews. Maybe they were trying to cover up some insecurities about their fund performance?

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Oct 21, 2017

Or the prestige whoring boutique ib guys who ask for "top tier undergrad" and only pay 50k. LOL.

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Oct 23, 2017

Good God

Oct 27, 2017

Wow. You have to question why a firm is wasting 6 hours interviewing someone for an unpaid internship.

I'll add mine: interview for a hedge fund out of undergrad. Consisted of 1 brain teaser, which I couldn't figure out. Interviewer gave no assistance, just looked at me, then got up and told me to take 15 minutes to figure it out. Came back, I still had no clue, so that was the end of the interview. Mind you this was in their office and after a first round. Glad I traveled to NYC for that, waste of time. Guy was weird and after that I had no desire to work there (not like I would've received the offer anyway).

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Oct 20, 2017

Did they give you a calculator? If so, I think this is a fairly reasonable interview task.

Oct 20, 2017

I have a non scientific calc with few data only, but given I was at my 2nd year of Uni without any CF skill I remember that as a nightmare lol. Btw actually I'm able to do it (I guess )

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Oct 20, 2017

FCF would have been quite easy... I was given 45 mins to read annual report + company profile and prepare a 1-page letter highlighting why a foreign investor should consider investing in that company, and prepare reclassified statements for the firm. It required reading almost 30 pages of reports/statements/notes.

45 minutes.

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Oct 20, 2017

Maybe not the hardest but the most painful interview ever was actually a non-IB job early in my career lasting 6 hours:

  1. First three hours - interviews with 3 different groups a total of 6 people
  2. Fourth Hour - Writing test where you had to do a several page essay on a topic in the industry
  3. Fifth Hour - Had 30 minutes to prepare a presentation based on a case study. Then had to present to a team who asked question
  4. Sixth Hour - SUPER AWKWARD team project. You had to work on a problem with a team of the other applicants for the exact same position while being observed by the interviewers

Note that this was not for some amazing job or opportunity. Didn't get the offer and never applied to that company again even years down the road as a result of interview process.

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Oct 20, 2017

This sounds like Amazon.

...

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Oct 22, 2017

Not an ib interview but interiewed with a PE fund last week. I'm a junior so they just asked me brain teasers for an hour.

1) 7x7x7
2) Cube root of 1,000,000
3) What place are you in in a race when you pass the guy in 2nd place
4) You're in the top corner of a cubical room, whats the fastest route to the other corner without jumping?
5) Some perpetuity question where I had to think in an abstract way to find the interest rate

Jan 23, 2018

.

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Oct 22, 2017

Questions weren't hard but I wasn't expecting an hour of brainteasers. But 1 clout token for you!

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Oct 23, 2017

Maybe the case studies weren't the actual reason you got dinged - your comment makes it seem like talking to you would be an absolute chore

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Oct 22, 2017

Not exactly a hard interview story, but definitely the weirdest one I've had.

I interviewed with a MM boutique for a SA position, and they set me up for a phone interview with one of their international offices. The phone was supposed to be with senior bankers, so it was 2 VPs, 1 Director and 1 MD (big line-up for a SA interview I know but I guess it's probably because that office is very small)

When I got on the line, one of the VPs has not joined the con call yet, and one of the guys just went "oh just give her a second, she's in Germany at her ex-husband's funeral".

Dead Silence for about 20 seconds on the line. And then she joined the call.

and no she was not in a good mood, and I did not get the job lol.

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Oct 23, 2017

I was once asked to explain a balance sheet... in Spanish. The catch? It wasn't even for an IB analyst position, it was for an entry-level position at a small accounting firm.

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Oct 23, 2017

Did you say something about Spanish on your resume?

Oct 23, 2017

lol why Spanish?

Oct 23, 2017

had an interviewer throw me a technical question about calculating beta for a private firm; didn't necessarily have a great answer. interviewer straight up told me to my face something along the lines of 'yeah i think we're done here, you can leave'. interview lasted 10mins.

I was a sophomore. what sophomore would know how to calculate beta of a private firm?

Oct 23, 2017

Lmao read valuation by McKinsey

Oct 23, 2017

Thanks, I'll check it out. still relevant in my current role I guess

Oct 27, 2017

looking into this now. Thanks

Oct 26, 2017

Fair question to ask IMO if you were a junior or senior, but you were a sophomore which does seem tough.

Oct 27, 2017

also, it was rude to just be like 'yeah [youre an idiot] this interview is done'.

Oct 23, 2017

Hi Real Marcus, may I ask you which boutique was about? Thank you and good luck for the next ;)

Oct 23, 2017

Ciao Gio, PJT

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Oct 23, 2017

Was this PJT? They did the same thing to me last year.

Oct 23, 2017

Yes bro

Oct 23, 2017

Hardest interview was for a MM boutique. 2-on-1, with an MD and a VP. They kept drilling into my past experience - which was totally fair, until they asked me increasingly specific details about a model I had built for a deal I had listed 18 months prior. They eventually caught me in a mistake ("I think the growth assumption was 3%" / "If the growth assumption was 3% then the deal wouldn't have closed"), at which point they told me to leave.

I made it about a block away until I started crying.

Then they made me the offer.

Turned them down.

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Oct 23, 2017

Man, that is rough. That's when you gotta call up the boy Gin Rummy and get the party started lol

Monkey see. Monkey Doo [Doo].

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Oct 23, 2017

Damn, that's sad.

Oct 27, 2017

which MM this was and did u really turn them down haha

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

Oct 23, 2017

This is probably going to get shit on but some MO roles (quant, risk, etc.) can be some of the toughest.

Oct 23, 2017

I have a superday on Friday for a job that I don't want all that much.

Just got an email from HR saying to show up before 7am, at 7am there will be a one-hour written exam. After the written exam we will eat breakfast during a brief presentation about the company. We will begin interviewing after the presentation and conclude at 6pm...No mention of lunch.

I come from down in the Valley, where Mr. when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done.

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Oct 27, 2017

How was it?

Oct 29, 2017

90% behavioral until the last interview, which was rapid-fire technicals and brainteasers.

Actually, a very smart way to structure it.

I come from down in the Valley, where Mr. when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done.

Oct 26, 2017
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Nov 3, 2017
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