How to Use Investment Banking Informational Interviews to Break In

371 Comments | Investment Banking - Networking

26 Flares 26 Flares ×

Investment Banking Informational InterviewsI’ve referenced informational interviews many times, but have never given a step-by-step tutorial – or even said what exactly an informational interview is.

So let’s change that.

There’s more detail within Breaking Into Wall Street, but I wanted to put this guide out there to answer the most common questions on informational interviews – and show you how to use them to break into investment banking.

Why Informational Interviews?

A banker is looking through a stack of 200 resumes.

It’s 3 AM and he’s also working on a last-minute pitch book for his crazy MD who only sleeps 2 hours a night.

At 3:23 AM his eyes begin to close and everyone’s resume starts looking the same…

PWM internship, 3.7 GPA from target school… F500 internship, 3.5 GPA from non-target school…

As he’s dozing off, he comes across your resume.

He sees your name written at the top and remembers meeting you at an information session a few months ago, then meeting up with you 2 weeks ago and how you got into a discussion about the World Cup.

Rather than reading the rest of your resume and analyzing your experience, he says, “You’re cool” and puts you in the “interview” pile.

That’s why you do informational interviews.

Predictably Irrational?

In case you think the story above is an anomaly, think again: the interview selection process is not rational at all.

The good news, though, is that it’s predictably irrational – or at least easier to predict than the stock market or the next trending topic on Twitter.

And unlike other events, with informational interviews you can easily tip the scales in your favor with a small amount of effort.

If you know people at the office you’re applying to, you stand a 10x better chance of getting interviews there.

Do Informational Interviews Really Work?

I’ve seen a couple common objections, so let’s address them head-on:

  • Objection #1: Even if I meet someone, how do I know that he’ll actually see my resume and select me for an interview?
  • Objection #2: Won’t the bankers I approach think I’m using them?
  • Objection #3: Does this work at all levels? What if I’m applying for Associate positions?
  • Objection #4: I’m outside the US – I heard networking doesn’t work as well in other countries.

For objection #1, I’ll admit it: there are no guarantees that the same exact bankers you meet will review your resume and make an interview / no interview decision.

To get an idea of specific numbers and what it will take to get noticed, check out this interview with an engineer who broke into investment banking via informational interviews.

Also note that even if your contact doesn’t pick you for an interview directly, he can tell other bankers about you, get you referrals, and help in other ways.

On objection #2, yes, bankers will think that you’re contacting them to win interviews at their firm…

…and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Bankers don’t do this for love – they won’t care that you’re “using” them if hiring you means less work for them.

On objection #3, informational interviews work at both the Analyst and Associate levels – you almost have to do them at the Associate level because your competition certainly will be.

Outside the US

This objection has more truth to it than the others – networking into finance and going around the formal processes is not as common in regions like the UK and Australia.

Banks there are more focused on traditional recruiting – interviews, online tests, assessment centers and case studies, and so on.

But it’s not that networking “doesn’t work” – it just doesn’t work as well.

You may not want to spend as much time on networking in other countries, but you still need to do more than earn high grades and hope that’s enough to get you in.

The ROI

The bottom-line is that there are no guarantees that any strategy will “work,” but it’s hard to beat the ROI of informational interviews:

  • Informational Interviews: 10-20 hours of work might result in multiple interviews.
  • CFA: 500 hours of study will result in… an additional bullet point on your resume.
  • Cold-calling: 10-20 hours of calling boutiques… may result in nothing or maybe a few potential leads.

So think like a banker and invest in the area with the highest ROI.

What is an Informational Interview?

Wow, we made it all the way here without even defining what an informational interview is.

First, you find the contact information of a banker from your alumni database, from a referral, from student or professional groups, and so on.

Next, you email the person, introduce yourself, say where you found them, and ask if they can chat for 10-15 minutes on the phone or in-person.

If they don’t get back to you, try a few more times.

Then, go in and ask the questions you have about them, make a good impression, stay in touch afterward, and then ask for explicit help with recruiting when the time comes.

When to Set Them Up

You should begin 3-6 months in advance of recruiting – that gives you time to get to know them without feeling pressured to follow-up 24/7.

So if you’re a summer intern preparing for full-time recruiting, start just before your internship or as your internship is beginning.

You can start earlier, but setting up interviews too far in advance – say, 2 years before you recruit – is not a good idea because:

  1. It’s harder to stay in touch over that length of time and people may forget who you are.
  2. Finance has extremely high turnover and hardly anyone sticks around for 2 years in the same group at the same bank.

At the MBA-level, you should start before you even arrive at school – just conduct your interviews over the phone in your spare time if necessary.

Your competition is also thinking about networking, so starting even further in advance may be helpful – alumni at top schools get contacted by lots of students.

How to Set Up Informational Interviews

So you’ve found contact information for 5 alumni and you have 4 months until recruiting begins. What now?

Send a 5-sentence email to your contacts that proposes specific dates and times to speak:

  • Sentence 1: Who you are
  • Sentence 2: How you found them
  • Sentence 3: What you want to ask them about
  • Sentence 4: Propose 3-4 dates and times (and places if you want to meet in-person) to speak with them
  • Sentence 5: Thank them for their help in advance

Do not attach your resume / CV, as that annoys bankers by creating extra work.

Resist the urge to write your life story – normal people don’t even have time for that, and bankers certainly don’t.

Think, “Can he/she read this on a Blackberry without scrolling?”

Phone vs. In-Person

Should you go for informational interviews on the phone? Or in-person?

In-person is the way to go if you’re local or you can make a weekend trip to consolidate your visits; the phone is better if you’re new and want to “warm up.”

Overall, in-person is more effective for all the reasons that meeting your friends in-person is more fun than calling them: the subtleties and non-verbal communication that you don’t get on the phone.

Plus, in-person meetings sometimes lead to in-person tours of the office and meeting even more bankers there.

Questions to Ask and Questions Not to Ask

So now you’re set to speak with a banker at JP Morgan next Tuesday at 2 PM – what questions do you ask?

First, do a few minutes of research on him beforehand (Google and LinkedIn are fine, Capital IQ / Bloomberg are better if you have access) and figure out where he went to school and where he worked (geography / company / group) before.

Once you’ve done that, you can plan out the questions you want to ask.

Personal questions work the best – though if you’re networking with traders, you should make your discussion more markets-focused.

Good Questions:

  • Can you tell me about how you got started at [Bank Name]?
  • I noticed that you studied abroad in [Place Name] according to our alumni database – what was that like?
  • I saw that you worked in [Industry 1] before switching to [Industry 2] – can you tell me how you did that?
  • I noticed that your group was involved with [Announced Deal Name] – did you work on that?

People, and especially bankers, love to talk about themselves, so the questions above are much better than the “What does an investment banker do?” / “How do you break in?” variety.

Bad questions consist of anything that you can find out in 5 seconds elsewhere or “questions” that are really attempts to brag about yourself.

Bad Questions:

  • What’s it like being an investment banker?
  • How many hours per week do you work?
  • Where can I read more about the industry?
  • By the way, I have a 4.0 GPA in my Finance classes – do you think I should mention that on my resume?

Your new banker friend could also test you by asking technical or fit questions in the beginning, just like in a normal interview – so be prepared with your story and accounting/finance knowledge.

As your 10 – 15 minutes are drawing to a close and you’ve asked your questions, make a mini-request.

People are just like dogs: we need to be trained.

If you don’t ask for something small – a suggestion to meet on a weekend trip in the future, a referral, or even if it’s OK to send follow-up questions – the banker will assume you just want to be “friends.”

As with dating, you need to avoid the “friend zone” from the very beginning.

NOTE: Please do not do this if you email me – I’m already inundated with emails and requests, and sorry, but I do not make introductions.

Banker Having a Bad Hair Day?

Don’t expect that everyone will respond favorably – they won’t.

The banker might be having a bad hair day, might have just lost a client, might have broken up with his significant other, or might be suffering from dozens of other calamities.

You can’t take it personally because this has nothing to do with you 99% of the time.

Put the ones who don’t want to speak with you lower on your priority list and focus on the ones who seem more helpful.

What to Do After the Interview

The biggest mistake you can make: following up repeatedly for no reason.

Sure, it’s good to stay on bankers’ radar every 2-3 months if you’re networking far in advance, but don’t go crazy sending 2 articles every every day because that will annoy them.

You should follow-up with specific questions, requests for referrals, or to ask for help getting an interview.

Some networking “experts” advise you to constantly ping everyone you know, but that is a mistake because:

  1. Bankers are 10x busier than the average person.
  2. You’re on a short time frame – months rather than years.

And yes, when it’s recruiting season you really can just say:

“With recruiting approaching, I wanted to see how I could best position myself for an interview at your firm.”

What Now?

First, go to your alumni database, or ask your friends, family, or organizations you’re in for bankers’ contact information.

Email 5 of them to set up informational interviews, use the guidelines above, get referrals from those 5 to expand your list, and keep doing that until you’ve met a few dozen bankers.

Then when recruiting begins, ask for their help directly and persist if you don’t hear back.

When you’re done, post a comment below telling us how many interviews and offers you’ve won via networking.

About the Author

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys learning obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, and traveling so much that he's forced to add additional pages to his passport on a regular basis.

Break Into Investment Banking

Free Access to Exclusive Content for Members Only!

Loading the player...

Sign up for The Banker Blueprint today and enjoy:

ebook
  • Free Report: 57-page guide with the action plan you need to break into investment banking - how to tell your story, network, craft a winning resume, and dominate your interviews,
  • Exclusive emailed bonus material,
  • Free Banker Blueprint newsletter with more in-depth advice,
  • Unlimited access to all articles, videos, and advice - and free updates whenever new content is added to the site,

 

We respect your email privacy

Read below or add a comment...

371 Comments to “How to Use Investment Banking Informational Interviews to Break In”

Comments

  1. DazedAndConfused says

    I am in bit of a limbo here. I saw a job posting for an analyst position at a bank at my school career centre. I requested the person who is hiring for an informational interview (as my gpa is pretty bad). He said he is busy and asked me to get back to him in a month and I said ok. But the job posting expires in a week. What should I do? Do I still send in my app? The app goes directly to him and not to HR. Will he think I was trying to “use him” to get an interview?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Just contact him again and ask him for his suggestions. No, I don’t think he will think the above. I presume he knows why you were in contact with him in the first place.

      • DazedAndConfused says

        I asked him for an info interview to learn more about banking in his sector. I planned to ask him about the job interview in the way mentioned in the article. Hmm I guess I will just send in my app.

  2. Maxim P says

    So, I’m in a bit of a bind; as a graduating undergrad Senior, I’m open to many possibilities in finance. I’ve done lots of research (a lot of it right here) and my ideal group would be Restructuring/Distressed M&A. However, many of the alumni I meet are not in these groups. Moreover, I’m definitely open to other possibilities: wealth management, is one idea. For example, I have informational interviews with two BB traders tomorrow. Trading isn’t my first choice, but it’s something I think I could be good at and would like to learn about. How do I present the fact that I’m open to possibilities while still seeming focused?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Direct the questions to them. Tell them you are interested in trading because [fill in the blanks]. You can appear to stay focused by asking them lots of questions in trading. Try to figure out whether you’d be a good fit with trading or not too. And don’t tell them trading isn’t your first choice..

  3. Sean says

    I have an informational interview coming up with a BB banker I found through my alumni network who is working in LA. I am ideally looking for a position in NY. How would you suggest I go about trying to get NY contacts through this contact? Is it out of line to ask for referrals and try to steer them towards NY?

    Thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      No, not out of line. Try to ask him/her after you have build a rapport with him/her though. Be genuine and nice and truly thank them for their time.

  4. J says

    I networked a good amount senior year and landed a job in the IBD division of an int’l bank. I ended up in the DCM group and, after ~1yr here, would now like to get back in touch with my contacts at other banks to try to lateral onto an M&A/industry coverage team. Any advice? Should I jump right in and explain the situation in an email? Or ask if they have 10 mins to chat to catch up over the phone?

    Appreciate any advice on the matter. Thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d call them up and catch up over the phone discretely. Words can get around so I’d be slightly vigilant. I’d also rehearse my pitch before approaching the people (Why do you want to switch? What are you looking to do? etc)

  5. Soophie says

    Hey guys,

    This may be a silly question but how many people should I aim to network with to be successful but not overdo it? I’ve been speaking with bankers in the firms but I’m not sure how many to target in how many groups.

    Thanks for your help!

  6. Obaidur Rehman says

    I was wondering if it is a good idea to set up informational interview with random IB professionals added over Linkedin.

  7. Abbas says

    Hi,

    I am currently entering my 3rd year at a semi-target in Toronto and am planning on working in Toronto upon graduation. I have been conducting informational interviews this summer, but have found my university’s alumni network to be pretty dry in the field (my university focuses on Big 4 recruiting).

    I was wondering whether it would be advisable to try and set up an informational interview with an alumni that attended a competing university. I feel a bit off sending them a request, but is it really out of place? Has anyone else here experienced this predicament?

    Thanks for your help.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes, if you can find some sort of connection, you can try emailing him/her. There’s no harm in trying, so why not?

  8. William says

    Hi,

    I’m in a sticky situation (I think). I’ve been networking aggressively over the past 2-3 weeks and have been meeting people for coffee almost everyday. I’ve been networking with most of the big firms, but one in particular, because of the amount of alumni there from my school.

    I had a meeting booked today with a person, but she cancelled saying her day was busier than anticipated. No problem – I told her we could reschedule if she wanted and we could set something up next week. Then, she replied with the following:

    Hi William,

    I understand from some of my colleagues that you have already met up with a couple of people from the ________ team. I would be happy to reschedule our meeting if I can add value. Do you have any specific questions for me?

    Additionally, I would recommend connecting with _______ to find out more about recruiting.

    Regards,

    ________

    Is this bad? I don’t want the people that I’ve been speaking to and building a rapport with to think that I’m going around town talking to every banker…
    1. How should I respond to this email? Of course, I want to meet, but I don’t want to seem annoying. 2. Is there such a thing as too much networking?
    3. Should I stop emailing this firm?

    Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to include as much detail as possible to get the best response.

    Any help is appreciated – I don’t want my hard work to go down the drain!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      No this isn’t bad, but this email gives me an impression that she probably thinks you’ve met enough people and asked enough questions that you probably don’t need her help.

      You can thank her for her email. If you have specific questions for her, tell her you do and say you’ll follow-up with a call. Try to think of questions specifically for her (questions you haven’t raised to others) if you really want to speak to her. But if you just ask generic questions/nothing specific for her, I’d thank her for her time.

      No, there isn’t a thing as too much networking, but in your case, perhaps you could have approached the situation in a different way (judging from her response) though I can’t comment too much because I don’t know how you approached the other bankers.

      No, you might want to connect with the contact she recommended you to contact.

  9. Branislav says

    Hi Brian great article !! I was just wondering, if you had a chance to meet some of the bankers before and you see them again would it be fine to say that you met them before (even if they were not too keen on talking to you) or would it be awkward and make things tougher? How do you go about it?

    Thank you for the help. Best regards

    • M&I - Nicole says

      It doesn’t really matter cause chances are they probably don’t remember you if they weren’t too keen on talking (presumably you guys barely had much of a conversation). Would it make things tougher? Its not like you guys have a great relationship so you have nothing to lose. I’d talk to them when the opportunity presents itself

  10. Jules says

    Hey Brian,

    Thanks for the article. I have a question. If I make solid connections with alumni who work at the bank and do all the steps you mentioned, how would I make sure that when it comes time to apply for an internship (my school only allows online application through the bank’s website), these connections pay off?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      You can’t. And this might not be the mindset you want to adopt when you network with others. If you network with the expectation that the connection will “pay off”, the other party can sense it and this may actually “backfire”. I recommend making genuine connections, whether it “pays off” or not. And when you are detached from the outcome, you may be pleasantly surprised.

      • Jules says

        Thanks for your response. I think I could’ve stated my question better. So many case studies and articles here talk about getting interviews through alumni connections. For example, this is from an interview for a student at a nontarget school:

        “So how else did you get interviews at bulge bracket banks?
        A: Primarily through alumni – all my first-round interviews at banks were via alumni”

        My question is more like how do alumni connections help at all. At the end I’m still going through the same application process as other students. I really don’t care if I have 100 connections and only a couple work. It’s just that I want to know I’m not wasting my time. I’m from an Ivy League school and competition here is very fierce. If alumni connections don’t help that much I would definitely rather spend more time studying to bring up my GPA (but since it’s soon junior year already it might not help much either).

        So this is the dilemma I’m facing. Thanks in advance.

  11. zizou says

    Hi Nicole,
    i have a quick question. since it is FT recruiting now, what is the best way to approach talking to alumi? Should I still conduct usual informational interviews? Moreover, should I only say I am interested in the division they are working in, or should I also mention interests in other areas and hope they would let me know if there is any opportunities in those divisions? Or would this be a turn off and should just focus on their own divisions?

    Thanks alot and I really need help with this.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d be direct and ask them if their teams etc are hiring. If they say yes, good for you. Otherwise, ask them if you can meet them for informational interviews even though they might not be hiring and ask them if they know of anyone who is

  12. Matt says

    Hello,

    I have been networking throughout the summer and have had a couple analysts and associates forward my resume for full time positions to 5-6 banks. It’s been about a month and I haven’t heard back from any yet. (this is for Equity Research recruiting by the way so I think the time frame is less structured) I was wondering what I should do to follow up. Should I ask if they could check the status of my application for me? Or any other way that may help give my application a push?

    Thank you very much.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Follow up now. Ask if they have heard back. Better yet, ask them to provide you their HR or hiring managers’ contacts

      Yes, by contacting the hiring manager directly if possible

  13. Elle says

    Quick question, I met a few bankers at an information session and thought I really clicked with 1 or 2 of them. I sent everyone I spoke to a email thanking them and asking a brief question, and one of them responded very warmly and told me to feel free to reach out with any other questions. Should I go ahead and ask for a brief phone conversation? Or should I leave it as is? The resume drop is in about 2 months.

  14. Nick says

    Hey everyone,
    thank you very much for these articles, I have realized how important it is to develop a professional network.
    Just a quick question, I met up with a VP from BB, asked for a telephone interview, but she referred me to an HR manager, who provided me with a contact details of one analyst, who is going to call me on Tuesday next week. What do you guys think? Is it a good sign or not? Im going to prepare anyways, simply interested in your opinion)
    Thanks.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      It is a good sign but I’d imagine it to be a 1st round or perhaps informational interview

      Read up on the firm and know why you want that bank/role. Best if you could get along with the analyst (on the phone) to pass “screening process”. Good luck!

      • Nick says

        Thanks for your quick response,
        Just had a telephone conversation with this guy, went quite well, he will be interviewing candidates for summer internship)
        I will keep in touch and ask the “Magical question” next week, hopefully it will be fine, now have to prepare for another phone call)
        I am currently in Hong Kong, so far seems like networking strategies work here quite as well as in the US and the UK)

  15. James says

    I have an informational interview with the person who is in charge of hiring at my university. She is based in NY, which is where I wish to work. What kind of questions should I ask her? It is hard for me to focus on her job because she is in HR, but it will be awkward to ask direct questions about the hiring process without making a negative impact on her.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Not necessarily. Get to know her better and try to gain insights on recruiting from her. Build a relationship with her

  16. Lei Pei says

    I m going to do the MBA course in Oct this year. I have started my networking. There is one problem What should I do to keep in touch with a banker for 1 and half year.

  17. Alastair says

    Thanks for the article – really useful. I’ve been working in Accounting for the past year now and have been actively trying to break into banking. I’ve had a number of informational interviews in the past few weeks and they have been going well. I have a few questions though 1) A number of analysts have offered to refer me to others in their group – is there any way proper way to ask to be introduced to an associate or someone with potentially more hiring power? 2) In terms of the process post-informational interview, should I simply be waiting for job postings to come up on websites or should I be waiting for the people who I held info interviews with contact me directly when postings come up? Is there a more effective method?

    Thanks again for all your help!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1. Yes, by attending events and going out for “drinks” with the analyst and his whole team if possible
      2. The most effective way is to find out which jobs are open before they are being posted on sites because you will have less competition if you can prove yourself to be the ideal candidate as soon as there’s a hiring need.

  18. Tim T. says

    Thanks for the article. Had a question. I applied for a 1st year analyst position about a month ago, and the posting is still open. I haven’t heard anything yet from the Hiring manager, who I recently left a VM for. I was able to connect with an associate of his, an alumni of my university and schedule an informational interview. We have set up a time to speak, but after I get the additional information about his experiences and the group, would it be inappropriate to ask about the hiring of that position?

  19. Pedro says

    Hello,

    Thank you for the articles they are extremely helpful.

    I live in London and have a “knack” for running into MDs, VPs, (1) CEO and other bankers/hedge fund operators. It happens mostly at the Gym, by chance at the grossery store, or other random places. I tend to make a good connection with them on several subjects.
    Over the past 6 months I’ve stacked up a relatively good list of cards and contacts.

    The catch is I’m only in my senior year of High-school, and thus find it difficult to envisage following up for the next 3-5 years!
    I don’t want to let these contacts go to waste, yet it seems naïve to want to follow up for up to five years.

    What would you recommend?

    Thank you.
    Pedro

  20. Alex says

    Hi Brian & Nicole,

    I am currently conducting a networking effort to (hopefully) get some interviews for an SA position. I have researched a number of boutique banks in my area, many of which employ alumni of my university. My plan is to contact these alumni (their e-mail is provided on the firm’s site) and ask for some informational interviews.

    The problem is many of the alumni working at these firms are not listed in my alumni directory. So, I cannot say, “I found your name in the alumni directory and saw you entered investment banking”. What would be the best way to approach this without sounding creepy? I have come up with this:
    “My name is Alex, and I am currently a Junior at the University of (M&I). While researching (FIRM), I recognized you as a fellow alumnus of (SCHOOL) that has obviously been successful in establishing a career following the collegiate experience.
    Over the past few years, I’ve become interested in investment banking ……”
    Any input is sincerely appreciated!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes, the above sounds decent. I’d change the following wording a bit – While researching (FIRM), I recognized you as a fellow alumnus of (SCHOOL) and have been successful in establishing a career in finance.

  21. James says

    Would you recommend I try to reconnect with a contact I made in the summer to try to ask for an interview? Also, if I had no idea what I was doing during the “informational interview” would it still be a good idea to recontact them? I feel like I screwed up my first impression with a lot of them.

    Also, would it be worth contacting those at BB’s as BB recruiting is most likely over now.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes, I would recommend you to do so. You have nothing to lose, even if you think you have screwed up. Chances are you probably haven’t though you’ll need to put in more efforts to make a good impression with them.

      Yes, it would be worthwhile.

  22. Bruce says

    Hi Brian&Nicole:
    I am currently a sophomore studying Economics and Statistics at UW-Madison. I am really interested in breaking into Wall Street, and the information M&I gave me has helped me a lot. I am an international student from a non-target school,and I understand perfectly that the only chance of me breaking into Wall Street is by preparation and networking. I am currently planning to travel to New York during Spring break, can I meet up any of the editors or advisers of the website to set up an information interview?

    • says

      You’re better off meeting with people who are currently working in the finance industry full-time – all of us are running this business and/or other businesses, so we’re not the best source for introductions to others in the industry.

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Most banks’ recruiting period is over, be it for summer interns or full time. However, if you haven’t already started networking, I’d start as soon as possible. If you want to secure something in the next few months, I’d focus on smaller/third tier banks that may have a less structured training program and less targeted by candidates. If you are looking to build a network for next year, then I would focus on establishing as many connections as you can and learn as much as you can about the industry.

  23. smoothopia says

    Hi, I went to a non-target spanish university and here alumni networks don’t exist or aren’t available. They’re just not an option. Plus, there’s nobody around here who works as an IB.

    How should I go about finding bankers in London? Keep in mind I don’t live there.

    Thanks in advance.

  24. Ryan says

    Hi All,

    I had a quick question. So I had a half hour informational phone interview with an IB last week and they told me theyd follow up with me next week on where the process goes from here (which is this week). Now they still havent contacted me (8 days later), so I was thinking of calling the senior associate to see whats going on.

    Note: being persistent with them is what got me the phone interview in the first place.

    Should I call and follow up? Maybe the start of next week see whats going on? I appreciate any advice and comments.

  25. eou says

    Greetings Nicole, I hope you are well. Fantastic website and forum, very informative.

    On the topic of informational interviews, If you meetup up with Alumni with the hope to gather learn more about the flavour of banking at particular firms or obtain some kind of referral, is it better to network with Analsyt/Associates who might be reveiwing CVs, or more senior bankers.

    And if you do make contact with senior bankers, what is the best way to maintain contact with them, where you might have very little to talk with them about.

    cheers

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Generally analysts/associates review your CVs. However, if senior bankers like you, they may forward your CV to HR and HR may call you in for an interview. So I think its best to network with both levels.

      If you can develop good relationship with one senior banker, you may be able to have coffee with him on a regular basis and he may become your mentor – this is the ideal situation. Otherwise, it’d be pretty hard to maintain contact with them.

  26. eou says

    Not to monopolise the resource, but i had just two brief questions.

    I will be applying to 20 Banks as well as 20 other firms in Fall. Is it worth while networking with 60 people between now and then (3 for every bank) it is quite time consuming to organise and travel.

    Is it wise to ask senior banker for, or how would you go about finding the right CV reviewing analyst/associate to refer to.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes, it is worthwhile, and it is time consuming to network – this requires hard work and effort

      Its hard to know who’ll be reviewing CVs for the interviewing process. You’ll still need to go through HR for most BB and once you past the first screening, c. 1-3 analysts/associates may start reviewing resumes. I’d suggest you to networking with as many people as you can and I generally like networking with people at more senior level positions because they may be more likely to help.

  27. Jason says

    Greetings

    I recently got in contact with an old Alumni contact who previously arranged an Iinterview with me.

    the guy is very helpful and at the time invited his friend who was in the department of my interest to attend the meeting with him.

    Well, I spoke with him recently to catch up and he clearly tells me that he can bear some influence in my application if it relates to his department in pensions; but not in IBD M&A.

    but he also let me know that he is good friends with the head od M&A in the UK. We agreed that I would send him my CV for a review, but i wonder how best to play this.

    Should i just apply to his department, get my foot in the door and seek to move somewhere later. Or should i try to catch another bird by asking for a referral to the M&A Guy?

  28. says

    Hi, great article. I have just one question;

    I am a 24 year old corporate lawyer with 2 years PQE with a leading Irish law firm. I want to move into finance – preferably PE, or alternatively IB as a first step. I graduated with a first class honors degree in law and accounting from an Irish university.

    I have planned a trip to NYC for a week in September. I would like to organise some informational interviews with some bankers, PE guys etc. In your opinion, is this a realistic ambition and if so have you any additional tips, given that I am coming from Ireland and hope to work in NYC. FYI, I am contracted with my law firm until April 2014 so any potential move to PE, IB would come after this date. Also, given my age, I would be open to taking an analyst position.

    I would really appreciate your thoughts.

    Many thanks

    Oscar

    • M&I - Nicole says

      It can be challenging if you don’t have a visa to work in the States. You may find this article http://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/breaking-and-entering-into-finance-part-ii-the-lawyer/ useful. With the above being said, I think its awesome you planned this trip (a) it shows your determination (b) it gives you the opportunity to network with peeps in NY and see if there’s a fit there. I think its great! What you can do is to network with people with an Irish background, either through your personal network, or you’ll have to do extensive online research to find out such contacts’ details. This may enhance your connection and perhaps increase your chances

      • says

        Hi Nicole

        Thank you for your advice, it was really helpful. I’ve lined up an info interview with a senior Managing Director in the merchant banking division at a BB bank which I am quite excited about!

        When I contacted the MD I included some brief bankground info about myself and asked for a meeting to get some advice on how I could obtain an entry level finance position. He said that he was looking forward to meeting me and a date was arranged.

        This will be my first interview of this kind and I was just wondering, in your experience, how likely is it that a job offering (or even an internship) might arise from a meeting like this. Or, is it common for bankers to respond to requests like this just out of courtesy, rather than actually having any intention of offering a position? Bit of a general question, I know, but any insight would be much appreciated. I really want to nail this interview especially since I am travelling over from Europe for it.

        Given that he works in the Merchant Banking division, do you have any specfic advice on how that might impact the interview or any prep work that I do?

        Once again, thank you so much for your help so far Nicole!

  29. Abe says

    Hi, Thank you for the articles and the advice will be very useful for me in the near future.

    Right now though I have a recently sparked interest in IB due to a finance class I took last semester at college. I am now beginning my Sophmore year for my undergrad and I want to know where to go from here. Is it possible to land an internship at the end of this next school year? If so, I attend a small liberal arts college and need resources to increase my knowledge and prepare for work in this area. What do I need to study in this next year to be prepared for an internship next summer? Should I begin networking now? i don’t know any bankers or have access to alumni databases, so how do I begin?

  30. GH says

    Hi,

    How long after the informational interview should we follow up to ask for referrals? And how would we ask for referrals in a manner that doesn’t seem as if we’re just using them?

    Thanks

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d probably send them a thank you note, and ask them if they’re hiring (if you haven’t already done so at the interview). If they say no, I’d then ask for referrals

      • GH says

        I’ve been reaching out to alumni and sending thank you notes but since it’s still several months before recruiting season, would it make sense to ask if they’re hiring now or should I wait until a later date?

        • M&I - Nicole says

          I think you should wait till later date, though you can always network now and start setting up informational calls/meetings. Chances are they may be away for the summer so it may take some time before you can meet up/speak with them

          • Patrick says

            I got a financial intern starting this week. As to me it looks more like an accounting intern. My team leader is asking me at which area I d like to spend more time with. My options are

            Bank reconciliations
            Posting Bank entries&AP invoices
            Time Analysis of staff to revenue
            Project profitability analysis
            Income Reconciliations
            Accruals Issues
            Balance Sheet recs
            Profit&Loss compiling for regions

            Could you please advise me which of these area(s) can be more helpful for me to enter IB in the future.  

            If none of those are. What other area(s) should I mention then. Thanks a lot.

          • M&I - Nicole says

            Most of them are more useful to accounting roles to be honest.

            If you have had any experience valuing companies I’d list that instead.

  31. Daniel says

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the great articles, they are really helpful! I go to a target school in Canada and BBs do hire from us for their NYC offices. However, spots/# of offers are be super limited and I might not be able to get it. So I am planning on reaching out to alum and other people in NYC and schedule some quick coffee chats. Now my questions are:

    1. So how would informational interviews help in this case given that I do get interviews but there’s very limited spots?
    2. What if I don’t get an interview for bank A by applying through the school’s career centre, would I be able to get interviews through my contacts at the bank? If yes, would it be in other locations?

    Thanks in advance!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1. It helps because 1) you may be able to make a good first impression and increase your chances of breaking in 2) you will have more network which may increase your chances of networking with other banks (BBs or boutiques) 3) you can understand the industry better and this will help your interview process 4) you can start practicing your pitch with people real-time
      2. Probably not because you’re going through the standard recruiting program for analyst roles. If you’re talking about off-cycle analyst roles (i.e. analyst roles after standard analyst program starts given moves in industry, or increased hiring needs/headcount), yes I think you can get interview through your contacts at the bank. Yes it can be in other locations – you never know where networking leads you.

      • Daniel says

        Thanks Nicole!

        I have a coffee chat with a MD in a few days, I know that I should mainly focus on him and let him does the talking. However, I am wondering how long should my introduction/pitch be, should it be the 3~4 sentences short pitch or the interview “tell me about yourself” pitch?

        Thanks again,

        • M&I - Nicole says

          I think it should be a short pitch because it is a coffee chat. While you may still want to impress him, I’d suggest you to make it a “conversation” between you and the MD. The longer pitch can be reserved for an interview.

  32. eou says

    Hi Nicole, I hope you are well. I have been meeting up with contacts now for several months but i feel like I am doing some wrong in the Interview.

    I prepare for each interview with a cursory read through the annual report and investor presentations as well research on the contact. I tend to ask questions like;

    “I noticed there is still a big emphasis on cost reducing and moving away from heavy RWA capital intensive low margin business like FICC, what are the implication for recuitment there at my level, what is closing down, where are there opportunities.”

    Okay so get the impression that this line of questioning is not the right approach..please tell me your thoughts…

  33. grant says

    Hello again, thanks for your past help.

    Is it annoying to send an email thank you and mail a letter as well, or would it be good?

    All informational interviews were conducted over phone, and all went very well. My goal is to get an internship next summer.

    Thanks

    Grant

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d say sending a thank you email is sufficient. Timing is key – send it within 24 hours of the call.

  34. Yifei Yang says

    Hi Nicole,

    Sorry to bother you again.

    I just got the reply for my email to ask an associate out for a coffee says that they don’t meet campus recruits in person in order to level the playing field. Should I take that as an absolute no because I’m in London and clearly the networking culture here could be different from America.

    Thank you very much.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Perhaps that applies only to one firm. I’d still apply to that firm, though I’d focus on networking with other firms.

  35. Yifei Yang says

    Hi Nicole,

    Sorry to bother you again.

    I know it is kind of the last minute because recruitment already for 2014 already begins but my situation is a bit different.

    The thing is I’m actually from China and I just come to London for my Master course. And I personally don’t set my mind to finding job in London. And I think I can afford to apply back to HK or China after my course finishes. So right now my priority is to gain as much experience as possible since it’s London and I’m in a target school. Therefore, my plan is to start networking now with all the alumni and attend as many information session as possible and to talk to them. So here is the question.

    1. Do you think it is useful to network with alumni in London for breaking into IB in Hong Kong? Or shall I just contact people in Hong Kong or China? (Part of the reason I want to contact alumni is to practice my English coz it’s still not good enough to work in IB)

    2. I can find a lot of alumni through LinkedIn and is it a good way to figure out their working email and contact them?Since I’m not in that emergency, what should I write in the email. I’m afraid people in London don’t go out and have a coffee face to facr a lot so should I be less direct than asking them out?

    Sorry for the lengthy post. Thanks.

  36. Yifei Yang says

    Hi Nicole,

    Sorry to take your time.

    I just noticed that a lot of alumni from my school are actually doing things related to S&T but what I want to do is banking. So should I contact them? What strategies should I adopt and how could I tell them that I am actually interested in banking and make them to refer me to someone works in IBD? What about people from other department such as asset management, HR etc.

    Thank you very much.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes you can contact them and tell them your interest in IB. Ask if they can refer you to someone you can talk to. I’d choose one department first.

      Focus on building a relationship with your contacts for the longer-term.

  37. Hugo says

    Hi, Thanks for all the information if the website. I have a questions regarding how often I should follow up.
    I met this banker in his office and he told me he would help me a lot with referrals and contacts of the division I wanted to work for. I sent my resume to him in the next day and didn’t get any response. I waited 3 days and sent another email stating that I knew he was really busy but also asking if he had a chance to look at my resume and to provide me the contacts of his friends. He answered right away saying that he was really busy that week and that I should send another email 2 days later (a Friday) to remind him. I did that. However, it has been 5 days since I sent this last email. What should I do now?

  38. Aaron says

    Can we ask for referrals during our first informational interview…or do we have to wait for the ask in subsequent interviews? I’ve been told it’s ok to go ahead and ask for referrals during the first phone conversation if it went well. What are your thoughts?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’d wait till you’ve developed a decent relationship first before doing so because that person may be reluctant to do so without knowing your background and you well

      • Aaron says

        Thanks for the reply. I’ve been doing this approach so far for a few contacts and it’s been working. Maybe I’ll tone it down from now on. What do you now recommend I say then at the end of my first conversation moving forward?

        • M&I - Nicole says

          I’d say thank them for their time and ask them if you can follow up with questions in the next few weeks. I’d then email them after the call to thank them, and update them periodically every 2 weeks

          • Aaron says

            Roughly how many follow-ups (via e-mail or phone) until do you think it’s comfortable to start asking for referrals? Taking it up a level.

          • M&I - Nicole says

            Perhaps 3-4 – well it is very hard to say, it is best if you have established a decent relationship with that person, regardless of the number of interactions

  39. says

    Hey, I met a bb banker for an informational interview, sent him my resume after he asked for it. He introduced me to his colleague in the British office over an email. His colleague asked me for dates that would suit to meet him. I gave him two dates, one of these dates has passed. He said he would revert regarding his a time but I have heard nothing in over a week and have already sent a follow up email. How do I take this forward? Any advice is welcome.

  40. Allan says

    I’m between third/fourth year finance. I work in the retail side of a bank and want to transfer to IB when finished. I’m applying for IB Analyst summer internship. Since I already work in the company I have an internal list of people who work in the firm. I e-mailed the HR recruiter and we ended up speaking on the phone for about 20 mins about the opportunities, she asked for my resume so she could send it to some of the bankers. I e-mailed a girl who had the summer position and was hired full time. She did her finance undergrad with a friend of mine from High School. I booked a coffee meeting with her and am meeting her at the firm tomorrow. Hoping these solid leads will help me get an interview next month.

  41. Chris says

    Hi,

    So the resume submission deadline for a summer analyst program at a bank I’m applying to is in a week time. However, I’m scheduled to meet up with some bankers who are my school’s alumni working in this particular bank and these meet-ups are scheduled after the submission deadline. Can I still ask for their help to get an interview when I meet them in person, since some bankers might have reviewed the resume submissions before I meet these connections of mine?

  42. Elainey says

    Hi, thanks for the tips and I find it very useful.
    I am a undergrad currently in year2 of 4 year program, majoring in Economics and Finance. I really want to have an internship this summer to gain some practical experience in the industry, but as we know that the current openings are mostly hiring penultimate or final year students. Do you suggest that I should go networking with the bankers as above and get an internship in summer? Thank you for the advice in advance!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes I think you can do that though it can be more challenging because you are still in year 2. Perhaps you may want to try boutique or smaller firms including funds which maybe look for some help.

  43. Gie says

    Hey guys. I have an informal interview which I got through networking with an MD at Iceland’s biggest Investment Bank. I sent her my story where im going to school etc and she wanted to meet me while I go home for the holidays. First of all this is not the norm for a person of her stature to set up meetings like this so I was just wandering what I could expect and how I should prepare. Any insight would be very helpul, thanks.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Congrats! I’d focus on learning about her background, honing your story (why you want to get into finance), and thinking of good questions to ask her – this article has some good examples

  44. Jao says

    Hey, great article! My informational interview went just well thanks to your tips.

    What should you expect of a successful networking process? Get an interview or get help through the recruiting process?

    At the end of three conversations (2 in-person, 1 on the phone), they said I could email/call them for questions and when I apply for a summer internship (not in IB because still year 2) so they can mention my name to HR or recruiters. But as they can say the same to every one or be too busy and forget about it, is it still a good sign or should I focus on getting an interview/meeting directly?

    Still I truly enjoyed and appreciate their help as they gave me 0.5 to 1 hour of their time to discuss. So thanks very much for your tips!

    • Jao says

      By “mention my name to HR/recruiters”, I mean send a brief note saying that I applied online, btw.

      This wonder raised after the MD I had on the phone didn’t answer my feedback (1 email and 1 call/voice message in 2weeks) for a coffee, even though he invited me to call him back for more questions or coffee. I don’t want to be too pushy, knowing he too provided good information (and an I’ll-put-your-resume-on-the-top-of-the-pile), sacrificing time, that I assume to be precious. What do you think about it?

      • M&I - Nicole says

        Perhaps you can try him again after in a week or two. You’ve just emailed and called him once respectively; he may have been too busy to respond. Try again. If he doesn’t respond, I’d try another lead.

  45. Minseok says

    Hi M&I,

    Using the advice and tips on this site (immensely helpful resource I might add), I have managed to set up two separate informational interviews, one with the MD at a mid-market bank and one with the VP at a Venture Capital. While I know I should not go in with the expectation or anything immediate, it happens that both the MD and the VP oversee the recruitment process at their respective firms. I am not certain, then, how I should approach these two interviews. In my email, I stated that I was also wondering how to “best position myself for any potential internship opportunities at [So and So]” and both were open to discussing internship opportunities. How different should my approach, end of interview request, and followup be for these interviews given that they will be overseeing the recruitment?

    Thanks in advance!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      It is great that you’re dealing with the two decision makers. This means you need to perfect your pitch and clearly explain why you want to join the industry and the firm. You also need to establish rapport and demonstrate that you fit the culture. These aren’t too different if you were to interview with “non-decision makers”, though you may excel in the points I mentioned above

      • Minseok says

        Thank you for your response and your advice! I will definitely apply what you have said when preparing for the interviews. I was also wondering if it would be appropriate to ask them for referrals as well at the conclusion of the informational interview. Since I have voiced my interested in seeking an internship opportunity and there are existing internship positions for this coming year, would it still be appropriate to ask them for referrals and for help in obtaining a formal interview?

  46. says

    Hi Brian,

    Thank you for this informative article!

    I am just wondering is it Ok to ask for referral the first time of informational interview?
    What tactics do you recommend to efficiently follow up after the informational interview?
    About when and how many times of contact can I ask for a referral or interview?

    Thank you very much

    Reagan Guo

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Yes you can though it may not be advisable unless you’ve established trust

      Thank them for their time and write a little note reminding the person of something interesting in the conversation

      I’d say once first and judge his/her response

  47. Sam says

    Hi all,

    I am a qualified accountant in London coming from an audit background. I have a second language from the EMEA region and am trying to break into IB. I’d been messaging a few CF people from the Big 4 on LinkedIn and came across an MD profile in a BB who is a group head and sent him a message. He offered to meet me for a coffee straight away and now I am panicking on how to prepare, what it might cover, etc. Can anyone help me?

Leave a Reply