Investment Banking Insights: Preparing for Investment Banking Interviews

Receiving an invitation to interview for an internship can be exciting!  For anyone who has not interviewed for internships before (or has limited interviewing experience), that excitement may then change to some anxiety.  This post will focus on providing some clarity on the interviewing process, how to prepare and what you may experience during investment banking interview.

During the investment banking interview process, you may encounter multiple rounds of interviews and meet with several individuals from the company.  Some firms invite the most promising candidates to a Super Day (terminology for a final round interview) where you may have multiple back-to-back interviews during several hours on the same day.  To prepare for investment banking internship interviews, review the following information and resources so you can feel more comfortable and ready for the process!

Research in advance!  Employers are excited about candidates who prepare before the interview and ask good questions.  Take some time before the interview to learn more about the current climate and latest developments in investment banking – consider reviewing recent publicly announced investment banking deals by the firm, browsing a company’s annual report and reading industry periodicals such as the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times for the latest insights and information.

Don’t forget to review the company’s website as well – you may want to focus specifically on recent company news and announcements for additional insights to prepare for your interviews.

Insider Tip:  There are different resources available to research investment banking deals and learn more about recent transactions.  If you want to learn more about recent investment banking deals, consider using PitchBook available through Lippincott Library as one resource!  While PitchBook includes some information and data beyond the scope of investment banking, you can browse through the “Companies and Deals” section to see a wide range of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deals with relevant information.

You can also find many other online databases and resources (click on the “Deals” and “Articles and Key Journals” tabs for more options) available through Lippincott Library

Be sure to connect with a Lippincott librarian to learn more about using PitchBook and other resources available to you as a current Penn student!

Asynchronous Video Interviews. In recent years, there has been an increase in the utilization of technology as part of the interviewing process.  Some firms have incorporated asynchronous video interviews as part of their interview process, especially as the first interview.  Simply stated, these are initial screening interviews where students record a video response to interview questions with a time limit presented through a virtual platform such as HireVue.  You are not in front of an actual interviewer during an asynchronous video interview – you are simply recording an answer to an interview question using the camera on your computer.

This type of interview is very different from an in-person face-to-face interview or a live video interview in front of company representatives. If you have not experienced an asynchronous video interview, it may initially seem uncomfortable or bizarre.  The good news is that you can spend time practicing to increase your comfort level with asynchronous video interviews!

Interview Prep Resource: Career Services provides access to the Big Interview platform for you to simulate an asynchronous video interview.  Big Interview allows you to record your responses to interview questions in front of a computer camera and review them so you can see how you appear on screen.  You can also share your recorded responses with an advisor in Career Services for feedback.  Access Big Interview here to practice your interview skills: https://careerservices.upenn.edu/resources/big-interview/

Behavioral/Background/Interest Questions.  Beyond evaluating your potential and ability to succeed in an investment banking role, part of the interview process is designed to learn more about you as an individual and the possibility of working with you as a member of the team.

As you reflect on your previous experiences, think of a few brief, anecdotal stories from your activities, previous work experiences or class projects that you can use to answer behavioral questions.  Be ready to respond to challenging questions such as “what’s your biggest weakness” or “tell me a time you failed” as well.

Insider Tip:  For behavioral questions, consider using a structured approach to answers such as the STAR method: S – Situation, T – Task, A – Action, R – Result.  Incorporating these four components into your answer leads to a comprehensive response.  Practice your responses carefully so they don’t seem memorized or too rehearsed!

Firms also want to know why you want to work in investment banking and why you want to work at their particular firm.  This is where your research and previous conversations with alumni at the company can be helpful! Make sure you have a clear understanding of the investment banking role and what appeals to you – be specific and avoid generic responses to these questions.

Insider Tip: For a popular, open-ended question such as “Tell me about yourself” or “Walk me through your resume” it can be helpful to briefly explain your path to investment banking as part of your answer. Try to “connect the dots” and discuss how your experiences have contributed to your pursuit and preparation for an investment banking internship.

Technical Interview Questions.  Some students may be surprised to encounter accounting or finance (technical) questions during their investment banking interviews – particularly if they have not taken a course in accounting or finance.  While there is no guarantee that you will see technical questions during your actual interview, it is important to be prepared and aware of them in advance just in case you encounter them.  There are different resources you can use to become more familiar with sample technical interview questions and begin to understand the basics – you may want to start with the following interview prep guide:

Interview Prep Resource: A finance technical interview preparation guide created for undergraduates by a former Wharton MBA student is available in the Finance Career Community section of the Career Services website: https://careerservices.upenn.edu/resources/finance-technical-mock-interview-guide/view/ Browse this guide for insight into technical interview concepts, questions and other information to prepare for interviews.

Other websites and businesses also provide investment banking interview prep guides and resources – in some cases for a fee.  Some of these guides and resources can be expensive, so be sure to conduct your due diligence and investigate them carefully to determine if they may be helpful for you.

After the Interview. 
Send a brief thank-you email to your interviewer(s) reiterating your interest in the position, indicating a topic you enjoyed from the discussion and mentioning that you look forward to hearing back about the internship.  Be prompt – send your thank you message within a few hours of the interview.

Practice your interviewing skills!  You can research and study the information you need to prepare for investment banking interviews by yourself.  But practicing your skills before the actual interview is important!  Even if you have been through other interviews in the past, don’t rely on your ability to “make it up as you go.”  It’s important to be confident when answering questions and structured in your responses during investment banking interviews – students who practice their interviewing skills in advance can make any necessary adjustments to ensure they are ready to go.

Interview Prep Resource: Career Services offers mock interviews for students to practice and prepare for actual investment banking interviews.  You can see availability for mock interviews with Career Services and request an appointment online here: https://upenn.joinhandshake.com/appointments.

If you do not see any mock interview slots currently available, additional slots are added each week so be sure to check again for additional openings.

Interview Prep Resource: View our most recent Investment Banking Interview workshop led by a current 2nd year Wharton MBA here:
View the recording – passcode: &!rIL$2Z

This session includes more details on interview prep and other aspects of the investment banking recruiting process.

Final thoughts:

While you are trying to make a positive impression in an interview to receive an offer, remember that being selected to interview is very promising and a great start!  The interview is your opportunity to tell your story and explain why you would be a great member of the team.  With some planning and preparation, you can prepare yourself to excel in investment banking internship interviews.

If you have additional questions on how you can prepare for investment banking internship interviews or to discuss your individual approach, feel free to schedule an appointment with a career services advisor!

Best wishes as you navigate the interview process!

Investment Banking Insight Series Links:
Post 1 – Summer 2022 Investment Banking Internship Recruiting Overview
Post 2 – Creating an Effective Investment Banking Resume
Post 3 – Networking to Enhance Your Chances of Securing an Interview and Offer

This is the final post in the Investment Banking Insights blog post series in preparation for investment banking internship recruiting.  Visit the Career Services Finance Career Community, update your industry preferences in Handshake and login to the Career Services website to opt-in for customized e-newsletters with information tailored to your interests.

 

By David Ross
David Ross Senior Associate Director, Wharton Undergrad David Ross