How To Close Your Investment Banking Offers

88 Comments | Investment Banking - Interviews

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“Blake: A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing, always be closing.”

-Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

“I’ve done everything you’ve told me to in your investment banking jobs guide. I’ve convinced them I can burn the midnight oil, work til I drop, and want to be Gordon Gekko. But I’m not getting any offers. What’s wrong?”

What’s wrong? You’re lacking a hook. To seal the deal and land offers, it’s not enough to show you can do the job well and have a serious interest in investment banking as a career.

You have to show them that they need you more than you need them.

Of course, this is never really true. You’re just a resource. They’re a $100 billion bulge bracket firm.

But perception is what counts.

What’s A Hook?

A hook makes you stand out from everyone else. It can be your extreme enthusiasm over the job that caused you to email them 59 days in a row (just like Bud Fox calling Gordon Gekko). It can be the experience you had working at a Chinese Private Equity Firm last summer. It can even be how you were a Varsity Athlete in that sport they’ve never heard of.

But it can’t be, “I really want to do banking so I can learn!” or, “I like the fast-paced environment!”

Those are not hooks. Those are just standard reasons to say you want to do the job.

When bankers quiz you in superday interviews, they try to answer three questions:

  1. Is he smart?
  2. Can he do the job?
  3. Do I like him?

If you want to close, the answer to #3 has to be, “yes.” You have to have a hook.

But I’m Just A Normal Person, How Can I Get A Hook?

If you just have standard experience, you have to go outside your previous jobs and activities to close your offers. One tactic is making a connection with your interviewer by having similar interests or asking questions about some topic he or she likes talking about.

This requires upfront research and isn’t always possible. But when you can do it, making a connection with the interviewer is a great tactic for increasing your success rate.

Was your interviewer in the Marines? Maybe your brother/cousin/uncle was too. Was he at a certain company or in the industry where your dad/cousin/uncle works? Same undergraduate schools?

Think far and wide to find that connection.

No One Wants You Until Someone Wants You (Then Everyone Wants You)

Yup, everything really is just like high school all over again.

Convince the firm that you have offers with other investment banks and you’ll get a big advantage. When they find out others want you, they’ll be afraid they’re missing something and decide they want you more now.

The correct answer to, “Are you interviewing with other firms?” is NEVER, “No.” Even if you’re not or have not gotten interviews with others, never say, “no.” Just be vague and say you are interviewing with other firms and are considering several options.

If you are indeed interviewing successfully with other firms, feel free to mention the names – this works especially well if they are competitive with your current firm. Naming any of the bulge brackets when interviewing with a bulge bracket, for example, gives you credibility (sometimes you can even get into specific offices, like UBS LA).

But I’ve Got Nothing… Really, Nothing!

Sometimes this happens. You don’t have any unusual or unique experience. Nothing in common with the interviewer. And no other competitive offers that might hurry them along.

Sometimes it’s just not meant to be. This is why you spread your net wide when interviewing at investment banks, especially in a tougher market. It’s just like applying to colleges – sure, go for Harvard, Yale and Princeton, but make sure you have some safeties (middle-markets and boutiques) in there as well.

Eventually, you’ll find one where people just mysteriously like you and you don’t need a “hook” or one where you have some connection to the interviewer.

And then you’ll close your interview and land your offer.

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.

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88 Comments to “How To Close Your Investment Banking Offers”

Comments

  1. Jessica says

    what if you don’t have any interviews, but the interviewer insists on finding out the specific banks you’re interviewing with?

    Is it possible that HR can speak to the HR departments at other banks and find out if you’re actually interviewing with them?

    • says

      Jessica: That’s unlikely and HR would not be the one to do it. If they really wanted to find out, they would have Analysts speak to their friends at other banks and try to find out, but even then it would be hard to find anything concrete because there are so many different offices, groups, etc. and people usually don’t know who’s interviewing in other groups.

      If the interviewer is insistent, I would not mention specific names unless you have at least SPOKEN to someone at those banks. It would not be a lie to say, “I’m talking to bank x” if you have spoken to people or friends there but have not interviewed there. That’s probably the best way to handle this situation.

  2. dora says

    What do you do when you tried your best and u didnt get an offer? how do you approach finding jobs in the fall whne u go to a small liberal arts college and not alot of banks tend to come?

    • says

      Keep trying, and consider related fields such as accounting, valuation services, etc. Better to go to one of those than something completely unrelated.

      If few banks recruit at your school, you’ll have to rely on networking with alumni and friends/acquaintances in the industry.

  3. Bo says

    Would a good hook be how hard you networked to get this interview even though there was no alumni from your school at this bank?

    • says

      That could work but I would only say it if it came up earlier in the interview or when you first met the person… helps to remind them again at the end.

  4. anon. says

    On average, how many people interviewed have a networking story like that? I am concerned that that particular “hook” will be less impactful if 3 other kids have a similar story.

    • says

      If its a large bank, few people will have that story – I would certainly go with it if that’s your best way of standing out. I know other readers have used similar stories in interviews / networking to great effect.

  5. looking for work says

    what about the whole jeffrey chiang incident? i have offers at other bb’s but not their ibd, so what do i say if i tell them i have offers at those places and they press me to find out what position exactly??

  6. Sandman says

    Thank you for sharing your insight. Could you give an example of a good pitch or maybe your pitch? Thanks for the help.

  7. Gary says

    Hi Brian this site has been really helpful!

    I was just wondering if it matters which city you work in as an analyst with regards to exit opportunities. Is New York more ‘prestigious’ than LA? What are the advantages, if any, of working in New York as an analyst?

    • says

      See some of the recent articles / interviews on this topic. The main difference is NY makes it easier to move elsewhere (other geographies afterward).

      • Gary says

        Err…I tried but could you please provide a link? I was networking once with a Morgan Stanley associate, and posed the question. He said there was no difference at all…kinda brushed it off. I got a bad vibe, and changed the topic.

        • says

          Actually its in an upcoming interview not sure its on the site yet. But basically what I said above applies, other places have slightly reduced hours / possibly pay and in exchange you don’t get to move elsewhere as easily as you would from NY.

  8. Shadow says

    I have an interview coming up for investment banking summer internship at a boutique and they ask me if I’m interviewing with other firms. I am but for different sectors; one for a large energy firm in Market Research and one for an insurer in their investment division. These are very different roles, would it be worth mentioning it? This is because it could be seen that I have no focus on investment banking but I’m only looking at other sectors because I don’t want a free summer.

    • says

      I would not mention all of those. Just say that you’re thinking about other investment / advisory-related roles, but don’t mention market research because that makes it seem like you’re not as committed.

  9. PVTA says

    for the hook, can I say something like “i chose to be involved in activities that would give me more exposure to the industry in every way” ( like chaired a conference because it had a reputation of having invesment bankers as guests, or performed as the class treasurer who dealt with thousands of dollars). also, can I say that I gave up a full time paid summer job that was not related to finance for an unpaid internship in finance? does that show my enthusiasm or am i going overboard?

    btw, i am a rising junior and would be applying for a summer analyst position.

    • says

      Those are ok but not spectacular. I would probably think, “Ok, this person is motivated but I won’t necessarily remember him/her over all 100 other people.” It’s better to go with something hobby/interest-related.

  10. J says

    Hey Brian,

    Just finished a final round interview at a bank. Heard back a day after and they said they’re still trying to figure things out and will get back to us in a week. I’m guessing that means the offers went out to top candidates and I’m wait-listed?

    Cheers

  11. fivecolleges says

    Hi,
    I am junior at a non-target, however, I was invited to two Women’s Day Networking Events (one by Goldman Sachs and another by Credit Suisse). They were great expereinces and I was actually able to meet some important professionals. Do you think mentioning these gives me an edge in a summer internship interview? Also, I did a Microfinance Internship at Grameen Bank the summer of my freshman year. Though it is unrelated, it is still finance and can be an interesting conversational topic. Do you think it could help me stand out?

    • says

      Yes but what really gives you an edge is if you network with everyone you met and follow-up aggressively. Microfinance also helps but it’s 90% about networking.

  12. LB says

    Hi Brian,

    So after making my resume, I don’t think I’m too boring of a guy, but my interests and such are pretty out there. How could I go about transitioning into some of them?

    Activities: Member of Finance Club; Created Fitness Information Website; Professional Personal Chef
    Interests: Competed in Amateur Natural Bodybuilding Competition; Competed in Motorcycle Racing; Cliff Diving

    I was thinking talking about my work ethic as per the bodybuilding and referring to motorcycle racing as how friends and I would blow off steam. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks,
    LB

      • LB says

        Thanks, Is it ok to imply that there is steam to blow off?

        As long as I have your attention, I’m currently a sophomore at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I have a 3.6 GPA and am trying to transfer. Would schools the likes of; Univ. of Southern California, UCLA and Northwestern improve my chances of getting into iBanking if I can’t get into Wharton, NYU, Stanford, or Berkeley? (I’m applying to all of them though.)

        Thanks,
        LB

  13. Brazil Banker says

    The point about saying you are interviewing with other firms put you in advantage is so true. I am an engineer undergrad, with 1.5 years internship experience in hedge fund and MM bank equity research and I had an interview for a top brazilian bank IBD for an analyst position. I’m also in McKinsey final round so just listening that I’m almost receiveing an offer from McKinsey made the people from the bank rush to interview me and it seems that it made them like me more. Congrats for the website, the information here is pretty accurate and well written. If you want any information on brazilian financial markets jobs I can share not only my equity research experience but my friend’s IBD experiences too – I have 4 friends working in IBDs here, 2 BB and 2 boutiques.

  14. D says

    I sent my resume to ibanks over the university career services network. There it also appears the name and e-mail of the recruiter.
    Should I send them my resume again to their e-mail if I’ve already sent it through the network or it would appear as annoying?

    • says

      Don’t send your resume directly but email them, introduce yourself, and ask for 5-10 minutes to speak on the phone and find out more

  15. John Adams says

    I’m a long time reader of this forum. I’m in a bad situation and would like your advice.

    I applied for a lateral hire investment banking position at BofAML and got an offer 1.5 weeks ago. I have been negotiating with HR. Yesterday morning, the group head called me and said that they have decided to withdraw the offer because they have other candidates who are willing to do the job for less pay than what they offered me.

    I was shocked and apologized profusely, and said I’d take their original offer. But the head said it was too late. My calls and emails are not being returned.

    They never told me the offer had a deadline. I’m desperate and don’t know what I can do. I’ve already told my employer I’m leaving and was in the middle of packing up. What should I do? How common is this?

    • says

      Wow never heard that one before… not sure you can really do much at this point if they are not responding to calls and emails. For now just tell your employer you’ve decided to stay… if that doesn’t work all you can do is interview around for other positions that are open.

  16. Rob says

    BB investment banking offer explodes very soon. Had planned on going through FT recruiting with top BBs/a few boutiques and was on track with people at those firms pulling for me but even the accelerated process doesn’t start until September. What should I do/how can I get more time from HR? Thanks!

    • says

      You have to give them an ultimatum and say you need to find out by [xx date] or you can’t interview – you’re really interested and definitely want to work there but must know soon or you can’t continue the discussion.

  17. Jim says

    If I am interviewing for multiple groups within the same firm, should I mention it when they ask who else I am talking to? Or does that just invite a problematic question such as “why are you interviewing with PE if you want M&A, etc”? I imagine I should want them to know that others are interested in me, but don’t want to project a lack of conviction.

    Thanks

  18. Bing says

    Hey Brian, thanks for the inspiring article! I hear some banks are hiring outsourcing hr services to conduct 1st interviews. If I meet with an interviewer who is not working at the bank, shall I still use the “hook” or just try to convince him I am super excellent?

  19. rita says

    Hi Brian! I’ve got some problems.
    I’ve interviewed with a budge bracket today. HR asked whether i was interviewing with other banks. Then I answered yes. But actually not. She wanted to know the bank’s name. Then I said it was a boutique. But she insisted to know the name. So I just said a boutique’s name which I’ve applied but not yet be invited to a interview. Can this cause serious problem? What can I do to fix it a little bit?
    Thank you very much!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Just say you are not comfortable disclosing it at this stage, no matter how she presses. The more you explain the worse it gets. If she presses and asks many times, just repeat (in a monotone voice – it works) I’m not comfortable disclosing it at this stage.

      • King of BS !! says

        1. Is it okay to say “Yes, I am talking to other firms… but I would not be comfortable disclosing the details at this stage” in an interview, even if this is the only firm that called you for an interview?

        2. Lets say I get the offer with this particular firm. Can they ask me about the “other banks/groups I was interviewing with” AFTER giving me the offer? And how should I tackle this question if I did not have any other interviews to begin with, but said that I did?

        3. Also, I have only 1 interview lined up, so if the interviewer asks me, I want to say that his bank if my #1 choice… but I have not networked with people there… so I’m not sure how to back up my claims as to why his bank is my #1 choice… any suggestions?

        Thank you for your time!

        • M&I - Nicole says

          1. No, I don’ think it is a good idea to lie.
          2. I don’t think they will be doing that. They may do that during your interviews. Please refer to 1.
          3. You’ll have to do a lot of research online and read publications on this bank – why do you want to work there. If you haven’t already been networking with people at the bank, start connecting via LinkedIn or other related functions!

  20. V says

    Hi there,
    I’m a senior at a semi-target looking for FT offers. I’ve managed to get superdays at 6 firms, and despite doing well, I can’t seem to convert these final rounds into actual offers. Granted, everyone else at the superdays are also incredibly intelligent individuals, and I’m sure we can all pass the technical/fit portions of the interview with flying colours. I have a few interesting hooks with which I have managed to have very interest conversations, but in the end it’s never quite enough. FT recruiting is coming to a close, and with no offers on the table (I’ve been applying to IB, valuation, and accounting), what would you suggest is a good path to take from here on out?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I’m sorry to hear. Good work for making it to the final rounds though!

      Try to email the interviewers whom you’ve developed strong rapport with and ask them what you could improve on. Furthermore, stay in touch w them just in case something opens up.

      Continue to network & generate new leads

  21. Dre60 says

    I got an offer from a mid market bank. I was offered the job on the spot and accepted, But they told me to go home and think it over, then call them with a decision. I also didn’t follow up with a thank you email…Did I seem desperate by accepting on the spot? What should I say to confirm the offer?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Congrats! I’d call them up and say I’ve thought it over and confirm the offer. If they ask what you’ve thought about, you should have a good answer addressing why you want to work for them – short and sweet. If you don’t give off the desperate vibe, you won’t act desperate.

      • Dre60 says

        How long should I wait to respond back confirming my acceptance? Should I say that I declined a few other offers when I respond back?

        • M&I - Nicole says

          No need to say that. You don’t want to lie and have them find out. A day or two. I wouldn’t plan it so deliberately. Go with the flow. You already have the offer.

  22. Frank says

    Hi Brian,
    I study in India and most of the banking/ finance company here recruit MBAs only. For a person like me who comes from a technical background and is excited enough to break into IB somehow, what do you advise?
    My resume has just one internship and that is for a very brief period of time,though I got a very positive feedback by the senior management over there on my internship. I am in my junior year and exploring a lot to get a summer internship @ a bulge bracket.None of the Alma-mater is currently working in the IB industry.
    When I convert my grades into the scale of 4.0, my GPA comes down to 2.9. However, the HSBC careers site clearly mentions that their minimum requirement is a 2.4 (converted) for Indian students and a 3.2 for kids in US?
    Do you think this conversion can potentially harm my chances of getting an interview at an IB?

  23. sting says

    I need some help here with regards to summer internship!

    I can’t choose between

    -RBS HK investment banking (corporate finance)
    -UOB Singapore investment banking (debt capital markets)
    -BAML Singapore corporate banking

    I am hesitant with regards to RBS because of the recent trouble and retrenchments coupled with ringfencing in the UK.

    I am keen on signing with UOB because though not as recognized worldwide, DCM in UOB is pretty strong in the asian region. They have an excellent training program too.

    I’m not sure whether BAML’s corporate banking is better than UOB’s IB. My end goal is to do i-banking at a bulge bracket. I’m currently in my sophomore year.

    Which one should i choose?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      You should make your decision based on the following 1. Your gut feeling 2. The team you like/click with the most 3.The area you are most interested in working in now

      The rest are not too relevant

  24. Johnathan says

    Hi nicole, recently I created a new company and had a family member who was familiar with the process do it for me. It has been a month and I realized to my horror that he basically screwed up the entire application and it got denied so right now I am rushing to get it registered but I already wrote it as some company ie, XXXXX Inc. on my resume and so basically my company is technically “unincorporated” as of right now. Would the bankers do some kind of registration check and would I get called out on it? Kinda nervous right now since its gonna be at least 1 month before I can get the results back. :(

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If they do a background check when you get hired they might call you out on it. I wouldn’t worry too much about it – not much you can do at this point.

  25. Steve Evans says

    Hi, my “hook” during an upcoming superday interview will be that I like whitewater rafting, like to work on a company I recently started, and play piano and trumpet in a jazz band. However, its been a while since I played piano, is there any chance banks might want to see me play/do banks have pianos in there? (I know youre probably laughing right now but just want to be 100% sure :))

    Also, is my hook good enough where it really really distinguishes myself from all the other MS or Goldman applicants?

    • says

      Um, no, very low chance of that happening. Personally I would just mention the whitewater rafting bit and maybe the part about playing jazz piano and trumpet. Those are not spectacular hooks but they’re good enough.

  26. Andre says

    Hello there,

    I am a 2nd year student at mid ranking university in the UK, doing economics. There is no recruiting in my university, but I managed to land an Interview with a big bank, through contacts. I went to it very much unprepared and not really knowing what to expect (unfortunately I only found this site after it). Anyway I got offered 2 weeks work experience at the firm. What sort of work can I be expected to do? Also, as what sort of experience will this count?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      This experience will be useful on your resume and for your interviews going forward. I think you might be doing some administrative duties and probably shadowing after some of the people there to learn though I’m not entirely sure because I don’t know the details of your situation. Congrats!

      • Adrian says

        I want to work at a boutique on more advisor work. Thus obtaining a hands on view on how companies work.

      • Joy says

        A lot of the hooks mentioned in the article (e.g. “varsity athlete in a sport you’ve never heard of”, being in the military) also seem to have a tenuous relation to banking. Does the hook explicitly need to be connected to banking, or can it be something totally unrelated as long as it’s ridiculously interesting?

  27. varry says

    Is there a correct answer (during an informational interview) to “What is your ideal scenario” or “what role would you want” ?
    Should, I give specifics, analyst in Trading or Research (Fixed Income). Or should I keep it broad (I would hate to say one area/group and they say, ‘Ahh, that’s too bad because my buddy is looking for an analyst in xyz’)–experience is valuable anywhere (It cant hurt, right?)

    Same category as “If we offered you a position right now, what would you say”?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Depends on the group you’re interviewing for. If it’s that group, say it’s that group. Be specific and clear.

      Yes I’d take it now. Do you have the documentations ready? ;)

  28. Jane says

    Thanks Brian for the great site and interview guide – it has been very helpful with my preparations!

    I just interviewed at a Canadian bank on Friday. I feel like I gave a great interview and fit in well with the other bankers but it is now Monday and haven’t yet heard back. Is it appropriate, or when would it be appropriate, to follow up? If so, it is appropriate to ask for feedback on how I can improve my interview style?

  29. James says

    I have a question about etiquette when interviewing at another firm. I am an undergrad and will be working at a BB during the winter (recruiting season at my target school). How do I ask for time off to participate in interviewing at other firms while interning?

    I don’t have to anger the bank by seeming ungrateful that I’m there, but at the same time I want to keep options open at other places. Should I even take this internship if I want to be available for recruiting?

    Thanks

    • James says

      Sorry, my second paragraph should start, “I dont want to anger…”

      I know banks are all very competitive and proud, so I’m afraid of backlash for asking for a day or two off (potentially if i get superdays) at competing banks.

      • M&I - Nicole says

        I wouldn’t worry too much. I’d still attend the superday. Whether you should disclose why you ask for a day/two off depends on your relationship with your team. Many factors in the picture

    • M&I - Nicole says

      My first reaction is that I don’t think asking for time off is a great idea (unless they don’t give you a full-time offer/you don’t want an offer from them). But then again it depends on how close you are with your team and if they are open enough to let you explore other options

      Otherwise, I’d try to negotiate with your team and make sure you manage your schedule well. Managing expectations is key

      Yes take the internship!

  30. Retired one says

    Last year (sophomore year) I practiced and trained with the varsity Track and Field team for the fall semester (I go to a D1 college), however I decided not go continue with it during the Spring semester, I was never formally on the roster as you need to be on the team for one year to be on the roster. Thus there are no records of me on being the track team.

    If i put i was on the track team (with the dates) on my resume will that be ok? How will the background check come up as? or should i take it off?

    Thank you!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I don’t think they’ll formally check but you never know. If you’re too worried about it, don’t put it on. Just put Track & Field under your interests

  31. Darrell says

    Hey guys,

    In terms of me as a person, I’m rather ordinary. I’m intelligent, hardworking, and have good interpersonal skills, so I can do the job. What are my interests outside of work? I play soccer and basketball. I’m good at both, but not enough to play D1 so I play intramural. I’m in a fraternity, and I’m kinda good-looking so I get chicks to a reasonable extent.

    But, there’s no whitewater rafting, no military service, no once-in-a-lifetime experience. I grew up with a loving middle-class family, went to international school in Asia where I studied, played sports, did some extracurriculars (e.g. edited the yearbook) and hung out with friends. I’m at a target school because my activities were decent, my grades good and my SAT great – not because I’ve done something few have ever done, or something real quirky.

    What do I do for a hook? The best thing I can come up with is how I’m from South Asia but lived in South-East Asia and now study in the US so I have an international perspective blah blah blah. But that’s kind of lame, right?

    • says

      I think you have your answer right there: your experience at the international school in Asia. I don’t think it’s lame as long as you can mention specific details that set you apart from others.

  32. Chris says

    Regarding the section “No One Wants You Until Someone Wants You”, is it a good idea or a bad idea to indicate to the interviewer that his/her firm is my top choice?

    If it’s relevant to your answer, the firm is a small PE looking to fill one position, not a giant fund or BB bank recruiting a class of analysts.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      It is a great idea to indicate to the interviewer that his/her firm is your top choice. You need to give him/her the impression that you love his/her firm, and his/her firm is your top choice, though you have other banks drooling all over you and you’re a great catch so you’re not desperate and you’d also love to work for him/her.

  33. Joshua says

    What’s your opinion on saying something at the end of the interview – kind of like the term – ‘let it all out’

    Just went through an interview (might or might not be final rd) and it didnt go too hot overall – I had the interviewer walk me through some technical answers.

    After the Q&A period, I reiterated my enthusiasm for the job, passion for IB, willingness to learn, burn the midnight oil, etc… basically wanted to end on as high as note as possible.

    What’s your opinion on this? Overdone? Seems desperate? Or smart?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      Hard to say because I wasn’t physically there. With the above being said, yes I think what you said is fine and not overdone. It also depends on your interviewer. Some may take the above well and some may not.

  34. Anon says

    I have just interviewed at a boutique, and they just sent an email saying they are continuing to review applicants. “If you have any questions in the meantime, please let us know.”

    Should I reply? If so, how?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      I don’t think there’s a need to respond, unless you have a burning question *other than* “will you hire me? When will you get back to me? What do you think of my candidacy?”

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