Very specifically, how do I demonstrate fit, and what are good questions to ask?

I've been on I don't know how many dozens of interviews, and it always seems to come down to that I have a bad fit. It's things like:
-What is your management style?
-Strengths and weaknesses?
-MD notices something wrong, what do you do?
-Why this group?
-Why banking?
-Do you have any questions for us?

And every time, it never works. I've long since practiced these responses - a collaborative management style, one which allows for people to offer insight and back it up to come up with a mutual solution but I can still guide them to the answer if need be; good strengths and weakness which can be spun as a strength but isn't a "I work too hard" non-answer; I take responsibility, let them know before they meet the client, and come up with best practices for how to avoid it in the future; because it's a great team with a flat culture, very collaborative, and has some great deals under it's belt; because I've been following the industry for forever and can talk about [this deal] and [these companies] in great detail as well as the broader applicability; I genuinely enjoy the structuring process and strategic finance approach; how can I stand out in a role like this to be a truly great hire instead of just a good one.

Of course, I also structure these in terms of how I've done similar things in specific other points in my career, to demonstrate these things with actual details of the work that I've done and how I added value.

The problem is, those all sound** super generic**, and I wind up sounding like some kind of rambling corporate robot - but I don't know what to change. It is honestly just how I am. Every bank is the exact same from an interviewing perspective, although of course I never say that, so it's impossible to tell why specifically them besides "good team, flat culture, good deals, good team size and fit for what I want". I already do a ton of research on the group/team members/process, so I can't come up with good questions. It feels like I'm going insane.

So, my question is:
-What, specifically, are good answers to these things that doesn't sound hyper-generic?
-What exactly are some good examples of specific questions to be asking here?

Comments (20)

May 15, 2018

If you sound generic, add personal detail.

Think to your involvement - do/did you play a sport in college or high school? Are you a member of a club on campus? Tie these in and make your answers more specific to you. ie, if you played a few years of varsity sports, you can tie that into why banking. Say something about the team atmosphere and culture of hard work and success that you experienced, and how it made you want to seek out the same work environment. For why this bank, tie in your networking rather than just some adjectives from the guides.
For management style, strengths/weaknesses, same thing, I would add a personal detail or example. Continue answering the question, but you're doing yourself a disservice just reciting a canned answer versus having a relevant example that they can ask follow-up questions on.

Follow-up questions, the great hire vs. good hire is fine and you can ask them follow-up questions on their answer. Ask them about themselves. Ask them about a memorable deal, their path to the firm, where they think x sector is going in the next 10 years. Smile and be engaged, don't stare at them frowning or zone out.

It seems like you have a good handle on the types of questions they're asking. To demonstrate fit, your best bet is just to be friendly and relaxed. Add some story into your answers here and there and you should come off less generic.

May 15, 2018

Thanks for the detail, although I'd say that these are for associate interviews - I'm a few years removed from school. I guess the fact that you saw me as an undergrad just speaks to the fact that this all seems very generic, and that's always the struggle - I don't know how many dozens of banks I've spoken to by now. I always try to give specific examples whenever I can, I try to mention specific deals that I've both worked on and that I follow as much as I can; it just still winds up going nowhere.

What, for instance, should I say I like about an industry besides I follow it all the time (with examples), tons of interesting deals (with examples) and my take on the tactical/strategic rationale, and the effects of said industry as it trickles down to the rest of the market and overall public in ways that others don't?

I try to be relaxed, and I don't think I come across as, say, super high strung or anything, just that I wind up being loquacious to the point of "this sounds like saying the same thing endlessly and it's all just corporate mush"...but I don't want to leave anything untouched nor do I want to seem like I haven't thought things through in a thoughtful, structured manner.

Basically, I have no idea what constitutes a non-canned answer.

May 15, 2018

I second what eloquence said and would like to add one thing. All banks want 'hands-on' people and they all expect them but if you ask questions that make you seem that way it can only be a point in your favour e.g. 'in your staffing, is there room to express interest to certain sectors or geographies? I am interested in industry XXX or I speak XXX and thus deals in XXX nations would be of great interest to me'. You will start as a generalist (in most cases) and should mention that you are interested in learning about all industries but showing you have a propensity to learn about one particular sector or geography, I think that makes you stand out a bit.

May 15, 2018

So I'm going in for associate roles, but I still find myself totally lost. I mean, I can and do ask about the applicability of my interests and deal exposure - TMT for enterprise SaaS and ADAS hardware/software - but I can't help but feel like any questions I ask there will be overly leading. For instance, if I were to ask about what opportunities there are within those spaces, and they say "limited", what then? Doesn't it also seem a little shallow and self-serving? I've always gotten the sense that they want people whose questions are examples of how to go above and beyond; that they're not so much "I want to know X" but "let me demonstrate X". That, at least, is how I see it being for my asking those questions.

That said, I guess I could get out of my way a bit more and lean into that sort of thing, so thank you for the suggestion.

May 15, 2018

I hear you and it's tough because although they want you to hear you'll go above and beyond it's also an expectation from them; saying 'I'll stay until 3am if need be' won't impress them.

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.

May 15, 2018

When interviewing others, I have noticed many people who give canned answers usually do so because they lack experience. If you have been working awhile it shouldn't be too hard to recall when an issue (big or small) occurred at work, why it happened, how you dealt with & resolved it.

Also, fit interviews/questions are exactly that. There isn't necessarily a secret answer to it, you either fit or you don't.

May 15, 2018

You're asking for specifics to perhaps the broadest (and least quantifiable) aspect of life.

"Fit" is essentially likeability. Either you click with them or you don't.
Yea, you can "fake it" for a while, but that's unsustainable and will be mentally taxing.

I suggest finding a group/company/industry/lifestyle that best suits your personality.
In other words, fit comes naturally.

May 15, 2018

At this point, I'll take anything. I've spoken to every bank under the sun, and feel like I'm very rapidly running out of time. I do not, at all, have the luxury of waiting for something which I feel is good for me - I need something now.

I know this seems extreme, but the reality is: I don't know how to answer these questions. It's not a matter of "we had a good rapport', but rather that there doesn't seem to be any answers to these/questions for me to ask which aren't canned. What kind of questions have worked for you?

May 18, 2018
LikeIdUseARelateableNameHere:

At this point, I'll take anything. I've spoken to every bank under the sun, and feel like I'm very rapidly running out of time. I do not, at all, have the luxury of waiting for something which I feel is good for me - I need something now.

Any possibility that you are coming off as desperate, instead of generic?

May 16, 2018

Try to humanize yourself...get them to see you as a multi-faceted person

Ask them what problems they have experienced in the past, and what issues they are having now. Empathize with them, share how you experienced similar issues and tell a short story that demonstrates this. This is thinking on your feet, but with enough experience, you should be able to handle it. Ask what were the attributes of people that didn't work out in the past...and what are they looking for in a new hire now. A good interview should feel more like a conversation than an interrogation.

just google it...you're welcome

May 15, 2018

These are some excellent specifics, thank you.

Most Helpful
May 18, 2018

90% of what you say is not the words spoken but your body language and tonailty.

Also the way you look and dress speaks volumes. No one expects you to be a GQ model but as my high school basketball coach used to say "you have to at least look like a player". Tailored suit, teeth whitened a bit, shoes shinned, and smile goes further than the perfect answer.

Spend 5 minutes and watch this video on YouTube- https://youtu.be/PCWVi5pAa30
Remember to smile (again) puts both you and interviewer at ease.

Good luck

    • 2
May 15, 2018

Oh yeah - I mean, I have been in banking for several years, after all. So do have at least the material aspects down: suit shower shave shine smile etc.

Still, I'm sure I could work on the more subconscious things, so I appreciate the video.