Why IB Interview Prep in 2017 is Broken – and What to Do About It
What’s the biggest challenge in preparing for finance recruiting and interviews today?
I thought about this question a few months ago when I was speaking with a client in a mock interview/coaching session.
He had a very “challenging” background – low grades, non-target school, and not-so-great previous internships – but he was still committed to winning an IB role.
I explained how to network, how to spin his academic record, and how he should spend his time most efficiently.
Toward the end, he said:
“This has been very helpful. There’s so much crap out there and so much ‘advice’ floating around that it’s hard to know where to start. You cut through all the junk and told me exactly what I need to do.”
In two sentences, he nailed today’s biggest challenge: Too much information.
The Biggest Problem of 2017: Too MUCH Information
When I started this site back in 2007, we had the opposite problem: There was very little information about investment banking.
Over time, people started copying me – poorly – and releasing their own guides and repetitive, article-filled websites.
All that chatter and activity created a lot of junk for you to sort through.
What do you really need to know for interviews?
What should you do if you have 4 hours to prepare?
What if you have 3 days or 1 week?
KangarooMonkey430 says you should do A and B to prepare, but JoffreysHead12 says you should do X and Y. Who’s right?
You could attempt to sort through all the junk yourself, but there’s a much simpler solution: Leverage the work we’ve already done and skip the junkyard dive.
Our Solution: “Comprehensive Yet Concise” Courses
I’ve spent the past year sifting through every guide (including our own!), textbook, and comment thread related to investment banking interviews to separate the wheat from the chaff.
I’ve also reviewed hundreds of mock interviews to find the gems that will give you the highest ROI.
That’s harder than it sounds because each interview is different.
For example, if you’ve had significant work experience or you’re at the MBA level, you need to know more about the technical side, especially if you interview at elite boutiques.
But if you’re moving in from a career in IT or marketing, the challenges are different: You need the technical knowledge, but you also need to convince them you’re serious about the change.
And if you’re in EMEA, you need to be prepared for case studies and assessment centers.
To find a solution, I looked at how much time you might have available for interview prep.
We’re all busy, we all procrastinate, and no one can complete 400 hours of preparation in addition to school, work, and other responsibilities.
In most cases, you have 3 options:
- Truly Last-Minute Prep: Your interview is tomorrow, or later today, and you have 1-4 hours to prepare.
- Kind-of-Last-Minute Prep: Your interview is 3-7 days away, and you can devote a few hours each day to preparation.
- Overachiever Prep: You’re starting weeks or months in advance, and you want to know everything before interviews begin. You can devote 1-2 hours per day to the process.
The best example of this approach is in the new edition of our IB Interview Guide – version 4.0.
There is a lot of content in the guide, but there’s also a Quick Start Guide that spells out what to do with different amounts of time: 4 hours, 2 days, and 1 week.
For example, if you have only 4 hours for interview prep, here’s what we recommend:
- Hour 1: Draft a 150-word outline of your “story” based on the templates and examples. Creating a solid story is easily the best use of your time at the last minute.
- Hour 2: Prepare for “fit” questions by going through your resume and picking 2-3 experiences you can use over and over again and selecting your strengths and weaknesses from our recommended set.
- Hour 3: Read the first 10-15 pages of the most important technical guides (Core Concepts, Accounting, Equity Value and Enterprise Value, and Valuation/DCF analysis).
- Hour 4: Spend 20 minutes walking through your story out-loud a few times, 20 minutes explaining your work experience and answering “fit” questions, and 20 minutes skimming a few technical questions the sections above.
You cannot “learn” the technical concepts and questions in 1-4 hours.
However, you can often review or retain just enough to get through an initial interview.
And if you have weeks or months to prepare, great – you can read all 578+ pages of the guides in-depth, go through all the Excel files, and complete the 17 case studies in the course.
You will probably know more about the technical topics than most full-time bankers if you spend weeks or months preparing.
Another example of this approach is in our new Bank & Financial Institution Modeling course.
As with the IB Interview Guide, there’s a ton of material – around 40 hours of training along with written notes, guides, presentations, and Excel files.
But if you have only 1 hour, 1 day, or 1 weekend to prepare, you can also get a lot out of the course:
- Truly Last-Minute Prep: Watch the 45-minute crash-course lesson in Module 1, which covers the most important points about bank accounting and valuation. Or skip the video and just look at the written version!
- Kind-of-Last-Minute Prep: Complete Module 1, which gives you overviews of the key topics and simplified Excel models. You can finish it in 1-2 days, and it’s enough to get you through interviews.
- Overachiever Prep: Finish everything, including the detailed Shawbrook model and stock pitch, the merger model lessons on KeyBank / First Niagara, and more. By the end, you’ll know more than many full-time FIG bankers.
We’ve also added written guides and notes throughout the other courses to make the entire process more efficient for you.
Video is great for some things, but it’s always faster to read the written summary.
Series – Interview Prep:
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing tips, samples, and excerpts from the IB Interview Guide 4.0, as well as examples from the other revamped courses.
Here’s what you can expect:
- Week 1: How to Tell Your Story Like a Pro in Investment Banking Interviews
- Week 2: Equity Value and Enterprise Value: The First, Last, and Only Guide You’ll Need to Master These Concepts
- Week 3: How to Prepare Efficiently for “Fit” Questions
- Week 4: Case Study Prep and Putting It All Together
By the end, you’ll learn how to fix the broken interview prep process and maximize your chances.
NOTE: This promotion is now over, and the prices of these courses have now changed. However, you can still access all the free content we made available and use it for your own interview prep.
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