by Brian DeChesare Comments (217)

How to Dominate Your Investment Banking Interviews and Win Offers

Close-up Of Businesspeople With Files Sitting On Chair

“If your enemy is superior, evade him. If angry, irritate him. If equally matched, fight, and if not split and reevaluate. “

-Sun Tzu

Ah, yes – the infamous investment banking interview.

There’s nothing quite as unnatural as being locked in a room for 30 minutes with hostile bankers asking you obscure technical questions and grilling you on your background.

But if you want to land investment banking offers, interviews are a rite of passage – so here’s how to dominate them.

The Process and What to Expect

In the US, the investment banking interview process goes like this:

  1. Submit your resume online or through your contacts;
  2. Go through a first-round, usually on-campus, interview;
  3. If you do well, you move to the next round – “superday interviews,” which are held at the bank’s offices (the article you’re reading right now covers this step);
  4. If all the bankers like you, they give you an offer.

It’s not much different for summer internships vs. full-time positions; analyst and associate interviews are also not much different, though associates need to be more polished.

If you’re going for lateral positions or you’re breaking in after having already worked full-time in another field, the process will be more extended and you might go through dozens of interviews without an official “Superday.”

This article is strictly about interviews, so please refer to the Recruiting section of the site for advice on resumes, networking, and getting interviews in the first place.

The Rest of the World

In Europe, Australia, and parts of Asia, there’s a big difference: you go to assessment centers rather than the usual Superday and complete case studies and presentations in front of bankers as your final round.

In the interviews prior to assessment day, the questions are the same as what you receive in the US, so the “fit” and technical questions in this article still apply to you.

Just be aware that assessment days require extra preparation – so read my complete guide to assessment centers and practice the case studies there.

If you’re in another region like Africa, the Middle East, or Latin America, interviews are more likely to follow the Superday structure you see in the US, though you may still run into case studies.

The Superday Process – People and Time

At the minimum, you’ll speak with at least 1 banker at every level – Analyst, Associate, VP, and MD – in your final round interviews.

You can go higher than that and “Superday” can last all day, from 8 AM to 6 PM, with 10+ interviews.

Bulge brackets tend to conduct more interviews than boutique and middle-market firms because they have the resources to do so.

Most of the time, though, no bank wants to devote entire days of senior banker time to interviews – so you should expect around half a day of interviews.

There’s no particular “best order” in which you should go through these interviews – it’s up to the bank, and you have no control over it.

Each interview lasts for 30 minutes, with the first few minutes devoted to telling your story (see below).

Investment Banking Interview Questions

You can expect 3 types of interview questions:

  1. Your Story – “Walk me through your resume/CV” or “Tell me about yourself.”
  2. “Fit” Questions – “Are you a team player? Tell me about your weaknesses. How was your last internship?”
  3. Technical Questions – “Walk me through a DCF. How does 40% cash vs. 50% cash affect a merger model? What happens on all 3 statements when COGS goes up by $10?”

Almost all interviewers will ask you #1 – so follow my guide to telling your story and apply the 5 points there to your own background.

Senior bankers are more likely to focus on “fit” questions, while junior bankers (analysts and associates) enjoy asking technical questions to test your mettle.

You may get brain teasers and “stress test”-type questions, but these were more common in ancient times (the 80’s, 90’s, and early 00’s).

Your Story

This is the most important question you will get in interviews.

Bankers often judge you 90% based on what you say in the first few minutes; the rest of the interview is just a formality.

So if you haven’t already done so, watch the “telling your story” tutorial, read about the key “story” mistakes to avoid and sign up for The Banker Blueprint to get sample stories.

Fit Questions

After your “story,” fit questions are the second most important type – they are more important than technical questions for 2 reasons:

  1. Unless you’ve had a previous investment banking summer internship or other full-time experience in finance, you will usually get more fit questions than technical ones.
  2. The senior bankers (VPs and MDs) who interview you will focus more on fit questions and they are the ones who decide on job offers.

The guide to getting investment banking jobs covers some “fit” questions, but just to summarize the most common categories:

  1. Analytical – “Walk me through how you analyzed / calculated…”
  2. Background – “Why did you pick that university / business school / major?”
  3. Career Changer – “Why are you moving from engineering / accounting / law / marketing etc. into banking?”
  4. Commitment – Are you going to bounce at the first job offer that comes your way?
  5. Culture – Why us? Why this group rather than another group?
  6. Future – What are your long-term career plans?
  7. Strengths / Weaknesses – Name them, or tell me about the feedback you received in your last internship.
  8. Team / Leadership – Talk about when you led a team, resolving conflicts, and so on.
  9. Understanding Banking – Walk me through an IPO or M&A deal; What do bankers really do? What’s in a pitch book?
  10. “Warren Buffet” – How would you invest $10 million? Tell me about the market. Pitch me a stock.
  11. Why Banking? – Why would you want to move from another industry into banking and give up seniority? Where did your interest in finance begin?

How to Answer All of These

Many of these questions will flow directly from your “story” – for example, #3, #6, and #11 can all be re-purposed based on your resume walk-through.

For #10, read the WSJ Deal Blog, the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal.

For #9, read everything on this site and you’ll be good.

The other categories either flow from your networking efforts – for example, cite other people you’ve met for the “why this bank” question – or are common sense (give examples of your commitment in the past and say you’re in banking to stay there).

For the remaining questions – on strengths/weaknesses, team/leadership, and analytical abilities, you should review your resume/CV and come up with 2-3 mini-stories.

For example, pick an internship project you worked on or a client you worked with and use that as an example to demonstrate quantitative abilities and teamwork.

Or pick a project that didn’t go well and use that for the “weaknesses” and “overcoming failure” questions.

What to Avoid

The biggest problem when answering fit questions?

Lack of enthusiasm.

If you memorize all your answers word-for-word or you read directly from a script, any banker can tell within 5 seconds.

You need to inject your own personal flavor into your responses – find your hook, and point out what makes you interesting.
Investment Banking Technical Questions
Technical questions cause more panic than anything else – just like GPA and test scores, answering them incorrectly hurts you but getting everything perfect doesn’t push you over the top.

Junior bankers ask more technical questions than senior bankers because they’re closer to Excel and modeling all day; technical questions tend to be more common in earlier rounds of interviews than in Superdays.

You should prepare for 4 types of technical questions:

  1. Accounting
  2. Valuation
  3. Modeling (Merger Model and LBO)
  4. Brain Teasers

I’ll summarize the key points here, but it’s impossible to explain everything without writing a book – so if you want more detail, sign up for the Breaking Into Wall Street courses.

Accounting Questions

Even if you have no accounting or finance background, you should expect accounting questions because they’re the most basic ones.

At the bare minimum, know the 3 financial statements and how they link together, and be able to walk the interviewer through the process; also know how adding 10 to depreciation or inventory, or other items, affect the statements.

You may also get more advanced questions on “real-life scenarios” (e.g. what happens to the 3 statements when Apple manufactures and sells iPads?), what goes into shareholders’ equity, LIFO vs. FIFO, and less common topics like GAAP vs. non-GAAP and revenue and expense recognition.


You need to know the 3 main methodologies:

  1. Comparable Company Analysis – Look at publicly traded companies and the multiples they trade at, and then apply those to the company in question.
  2. Precedent Transaction Analysis – Look at what buyers paid for sellers in similar industries and with similar financial profiles and apply the multiples to your own company.
  3. Discounted Cash Flow Analysis (DCF)Use a company’s projected cash flows, discounting them for the time-value of money and cost of capital, and sum those with the company’s discounted terminal value to find its present value.

Know those and the various trade-offs among them (e.g. a DCF tends to be more variable than the others because there are so many assumptions).

More advanced questions will cover how inputs affect each methodology’s output, different valuation techniques, and industry-specific valuation, such as dividend discount models and residual income models for banks.

Modeling Questions

Most modeling questions are on merger models – looking at what happens when a company acquires another company – or Leveraged Buyout (LBO) Models – calculating the return to a PE firm when they buy a company.

The most important part of a merger model is the accretion/dilution – will a company have a higher or lower earnings per share (EPS) after acquiring another company?

It’s an analysis of the trade-offs between using cash, stock, or debt to finance an acquisition.

Using any combination of these will result in a different EPS, and you have to take into account how much debt the acquirer can actually afford, how much stock can really be issued, and how much cash they have.

More advanced questions might cover synergies (when 1 + 1 = 3), how the combined balance sheet is affected by items like goodwill and intangibles, and different transaction structures like stock vs. asset vs. 338(h)(10) purchases.

Got Leverage?

Think of an LBO model like buying a house with a mortgage – you have a down payment (the equity in an LBO) and the mortgage (the debt used to finance an LBO).

You plug that debt into a 3-statement model for a company, assume that they pay interest and part of the principal each year, and are then sold at the end of a 5-year period.

The LBO model measures how much the company’s value grows and how much debt is paid off over time; the most important drivers are purchase price, exit price, debt used, and the company’s growth rate and profitability.

The most common question: “Walk me through an LBO model.” You could also get questions on the different drivers and how they affect the return at the end.

More advanced questions cover different types of debt (e.g. bank vs. senior vs. subordinated vs. mezzanine), pro-forma balance sheet adjustments, and debt covenants.

Brain Teasers

These are really stupid to ask and quite uncommon, but some interviewers like them.

Just maintain your calm and reason through the questions, thinking out-loud where possible; do a Google search to find common brain teasers.

Extras Outside the Interview – Superday Dinners

Everything that transpires on Superday is part of the interview, even if they try to position a dinner as a “time to relax” and “get to know others.”

Never let your guard down, and do not get drunk.

Do not ask nerdy finance questions or too much about investment bankers’ own jobs – no one likes the guy who starts talking about WACC during dinner.

Talk about your own interests and be an interesting and ambitious person who can also have fun.

Think, “Work hard, play hard” – that is the best way to describe bankers’ mindset and lifestyle.

If you do something stupid during the dinner, that could easily sink your chances of getting an offer.

Judgment is a critical part of your job as an investment banking analyst, and the Superday Dinner lets bankers assess your judgment for themselves.

How Many Interviewees Get Offers?

This one varies by the bank and the group you’re interviewing with, how many analysts they need, what location you’re at, and so on.

Generally 1-2 out of 10 superday interviewees will receive immediate offers.

Most of the rest will be put “on hold” and they may receive offers if others back out.

The odds aren’t great, but if you follow all the advice here you’ll be at a big advantage next to the competition.

One really important point : most interviewees come across as mediocre.

They’re not spectacular, but they’re not horrible either. So if you can find your “hook” – something that makes people remember you – that could easily put you over the top.

When You’ll Hear Back

It is a very good sign if you hear back immediately.

If you’re getting an offer, you’ll hear back the day of the interview or early the next day – the bank wants to join immediately.

It isn’t the end of the world if you don’t hear back immediately; sometimes you’ll get a “yes” response a few days to a few weeks afterward, and that’s because you were put “on hold” and others in front of you accepted offers elsewhere.

If you don’t hear back quickly, do follow-up and contact the bank every so often to show your continued interest in the position. Just don’t be annoying and call them every day.

The Odds & Numbers Elsewhere in the World

The odds are about the same at assessment centers, but it’s easier to tip the scales in your favor there because it’s more about content than personality.

For lateral hiring, it’s difficult to define the “odds” because interviews are a more extended process – overall, a 10% offer rate is about right.

What Not to Worry About

  1. What to ask the interviewers at the end.
  2. Thank you notes.

Bankers make a decision about a candidate within 5-10 minutes of the interview starting; while it’s nice to ask some thoughtful questions at the end, they won’t make or break your offer status – just ask something.

Similarly, sending thank you notes has no effect on getting an offer – decisions are made very quickly following the interview and no one will even read your notes before deciding.

For Further Learning

This article just scratches the surface of interviews – I’ve gotten requests for more in-depth material on interviews since I started the site, so I’ve developed interview guides and financial modeling courses to help you.

Of all the Breaking Into Wall Street Courses, the 2 most helpful for IB interview prep are the Interview Guide and the Excel & Modeling Fundamentals program.

If you have time and want to learn accounting, valuation, and modeling from the ground up, the Excel & Modeling Fundamentals program is your best bet.

If, on the other hand, you want more help on the “fit” or “story” side and don’t have as much time, the investment banking interview guide is the better bet.

This is in no way a hard sell – these programs will help you, but you don’t “need” them to win offers.

Just from the guide above, you already have a great start on interviews – good luck, and leave a comment below to let us know how many offers you land.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

Break Into Investment Banking

Free Exclusive 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

Loading the player...
We respect your email privacy


Read below or Add a comment

  1. Cassandra Li

    Very helpful and article and great website!

    I am graduating next year from University of Toronto with Com Sci major, math major and statistics minor, BBA degree. I have had work experience in software company and IT consultant
    I am interested in getting into IB industry but do not know if I am qualify. If not, what would you suggest me to do to break into IB? What would be the good IB organization to start with in Canada?
    Thanks in advance!

  2. I would like to add a point about thank you letters. I have interviewed with multiple BBs and got offers; a lot of the times the interviewers replied me back. It is not a make or break factor but definitely leave a good thank you note after the interview (do not copy and paste the template; customize it to the conversation you had with the interviewers). I believe it is a nice touch and one last chance to appeal how enthusiastic you are about the role.

    1. That is true. And we actually recommend sending short thank you notes in the interview guide now. It’s not a make-or-break factor, but it can still help in some cases.

  3. Long story short:
    – I’m currently in a BB, in tech
    – I’d like to switch into Real Estate (RE) IB or RE Acquisitions
    – I don’t have formal training in RE or from an Ivy Leauge
    – But I do have a passion, reading stacks of information and started calling up some people in the Asset Management Dept for some details of their tasks
    – What other suggestions do you have that I could use to break in?
    – I could try drafting my own research paper but wouldn’t know where to start really

    1. Learn real estate finance on your own, do some case studies (search our site), research properties or REITs so you can speak intelligently about the sector, and network directly with people in the RE group at the bank. Joining industry organizations in real estate might also help.

  4. Thank you very much for your awesome page. I have a question, but first let me put you in context. I arrived at the final round at GS, received really good feedback from the 3 interviewers (all of them recommend me) but at the final “table” decision, I was out because someone objected that as I have previous work experience, an internship can be seen as a downgrade… I don’t understand their reasoning, I quit my job, entered into a Master and applied for their intern position. What shall I do next time? More networking? Shall I apply for full time position? Many thanks

    1. That’s very strange. I would actually go back to them and appeal the decision and fight to demonstrate that it’s not a “downgrade” at all. If it doesn’t work, then maybe think about internships at smaller firms or apply to FT roles.

  5. Is it possible to get an investment banking full time job if I start in the spring? (Assuming I want the job in August and I start in January same year). Also, I have a business background but not a finance background and no relevant internships.

    1. Not sure I understand your question. You won’t get an IB job in general if you don’t have a finance background and relevant internships. So… no? Recruiting for internships takes place in the winter and you do the internship in the summer. Full-time recruiting is late summer into the fall each year and you also start in the summer after graduation.

  6. I have a phone interview with an analyst at a tech banking group in San Fransisco. I applied through my college, I don’t have any previous experience in banking/finance but am interested in the topic and have taken a few courses related to it. How do you think I should prep for the interview and will it be more fit questions or tech?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I think this article will help you: They may ask you recent trends in tech as well as how you may value tech companies. I’d try to follow too.

  7. Thanks a lot for sharing this with all folks you actually realize what you’re
    talking about! Bookmarked. Please also talk over with my website
    =). We may have a hyperlink trade agreement between us

  8. Bob Coldsmith

    Would Merger model and LBO model questions be asked during summer analyst interviews? Would the material be considered too advanced?

    1. They can definitely come up, I’ve seen it happen dozens of times before. In 2005 those topics might have been considered too advanced, but in 2015 anything is fair game, given the amount of resources, books, videos, etc. available. Maybe they won’t ask super-complicated questions, but anything is possible.

  9. Hi Nicole / Brian

    I have an interview next week for an analyst role in a TMT focused corporate finance boutique and was hoping to get some advice.

    I have no prior TMT experience, all I have is a few M&A internships in boutiques focused on other sector groups (i.e. FIG, O&G). I guess my question is how can I demonstrate that I have a genuine interest for the TMT sector, I don’t have anything tangible to say? I have one example, which is my brother is the founder / MD of a small tech start-up (software development company), how can I spin this into sounding that I have a genuine passion for the TMT sector as I didn’t have anything to do with it?

    Also, I was hoping to take in some material that i’ve worked on in my past internships to show the interviewer (i.e. acquisition profiles, valuation analysis) but all the work that i’ve done for these deals are still ongoing. I know this might sound silly but is it possible to show them my work by removing sensitive details? Would you recommend this?

    Thank you in advance, apologies for the lengthy post.


    1. M&I - Nicole

      If you have been reading up on recent TMT news this maybe helpful. Understanding TMT deals and the landscape will also demonstrate that you have genuine interest in the sector. I don’t think its necessary to show your work unless they ask.

      1. Thanks Nicole,

        I only ask this because in my last interview they wanted to see some of my work in my past internships and I didn’t know exactly what I could show them. Just to be more prepared for my upcoming interview, should the same question arise, should I prepare some material in advance. I was hoping to have with me a company profile and some industry analysis that I did, which doesn’t specifically relate to a particular mandate. Would this be okay?

        Thanks again,


        1. M&I - Nicole

          Al, yes in this case, you can bring such materials along just in case they ask for it.

          1. Great! thanks Nicole

  10. Bob Jenson

    (This may seem ridiculous….)

    In an interview, for technical questions…..does Excel come up at all?

    Should I be skilled in excel for the sake of an interview?

    Would it ever happen that I’m asked a question such as “So, what’s your favorite excel shortcut?”

    I ask this because I have an interview lined up….and I know nothing about excel (I plan on learning it after I get an offer, but before the job starts).

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes this may come up. But if you don’t have “Excel” listed on your resume, and you aren’t a business major, they may not ask you such questions.

  11. Hi Nicole / Brian

    In my first round interview, the interviewer went into quite a lot of detail on my past transaction experience. My question is to what extent should you know about past deals mentioned on your cv? I have 4 listed on my cv and my degree of understanding of these deals are basically, the rationale behind the deal, transaction value, and abit of background to the parties involved. How much more do I need to know? Do I need to know about the industry, relevant multiples, etc? In my final round interview I’m afraid that the interviewer will probe much deeper into the finer points of the deal which I won’t have a clue on. FYI this in an interview for a long-term internship.

    Many thanks

    1. You should know your deals very well. Maybe not every single multiple, but you need to know about the tasks you completed, where the deal fit into the industry as a whole, and how your work actually impacted the process. These articles may help:

  12. Hi Brian,

    So I have an interview next week (M&A internship), do you think its okay to print an updated copy of my CV and hand it to him on the interview day? I applied for the position a few months back and there has been a few changes / tweaks to my CV since then. Alternatively, would you recommend emailing the interviewer with an updated CV so they can prepare beforehand? (FYI I know who my interviewer is)

    Thanks in advance,


    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes I’d probably email him in advance and bring along a printed copy just in case he hasn’t had the chance to read the document.

      1. Great! thanks

  13. Hi Brian / Nicole,

    I have an interview for an off-cycle internship (M&A) in a BB bank (think 10-12 ranking). I just wanted to get some advice on how I should best prepare for this interview. Given my academic background (MSc / BA Accounting & Finance) and a few internships in M&A boutiques, I’m slightly worried on how technical the interview is going to be. I’m comfortable walking through basic DCF analysis, multiples (comps), financial statements (IS/BS/CF), but not too sure how detailed the interview will probe into these particular areas. How much technical stuff am I supposed to know as an M&A intern? Also, given my background, do you think its going to be focused more on technical / past internship experience as opposed to general fit questions?



    1. They will definitely expect you to know more, so yes, you should review the technical side in more depth and be sure you can walk through your deal/client experience. They will still ask fit questions, but the questions will mostly focus on why you want to work at this bank / in this group and probably not as much on typical strength/weakness-type questions.

  14. Got an offer in S&T, but have an upcoming super day for IB in 3 weeks. My decision time for the S&T offer is 2 weeks. I’d prefer the IB position, but would gladly take the S&T offer.

    What should/can I do? Is it unethical to ask for an extension? If not, whats the best way of asking for it without sounding like I am uninterested in S&T?? Thank you for the consideration!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d just ask if they can extend your offer for another week. Perhaps due to personal reasons or something around those lines. You can also call up the IB and tell them you have an offer and ask if they can accelerate the process for you.

      Otherwise you may have to make a decision between the two. I’d read up the articles on IB/S&T on this site and try to figure out which one you like best, and go from there. If you’d gladly take the S&T offer, I may see if you can push the other bank to interview you earlier. If not, I may just take it.

  15. Bob Jenson

    Currently an undergraduate sophomore interested in preparing for IB interviews.

    It was suggested that I read one or two articles from the Wall Street Journal everyday to learn about the IB industry for the sake of interviews.

    Would you have any recommendation on how to read the paper?….Does the Wall Street Journal have a section specifically dedicated to IB?

    I realize my questions are most likely elementary, but thank you for your help.

  16. Hello!

    Thanks for the article. I am from a non target state school but have landed two superday interviews with two bulge brackets for Summer Analyst positions. One is for Equity Institutional Sales (asset mgmt), the other Investment Banking.

    I have experience in asset mgmt and think I can do extremely well in that superday. However I’m passionate about breaking into IB. The Ib superday is two weeks after.

    If I managed to get an offer on the spot for Instutional Sales, what should I say? Both are bulge brackets, I would be honored to work in either role, but prefer IB. If i said “I accept, but have an IB interview I’ve worked hard to get so need to see how that turns out,” would that make them reconsider their offer?

    Please let me know. I know it’s a pretty forward projecting & optimistic inquiry, but thats what finance is all about :) Thanks for the consideration.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I would not worry about this now. Just focus on the interview and get the offer first. If you do get the offer, then ask them if they can give you 2 weeks to think about it. No, if you tell them what you wrote it is likely they will rescind the offer. I’d just try to buy more time if possible. And you may have to make a decision before the IB interview.

  17. Hi,

    I am in the recruiting process for a boutique IB (5 employees). I have my third round interview next week with the managing partner. What should I expect from this interview? First round was with an associate and second round was a financial knowledge type exam.

    Should I expect this this round to be more relaxed ad some fit oriented questions? Or should I expect some technical questions?


    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d focus on your pitch, why you want to join the firm, how you can contribute. I’d say its a bit more fit-related though I’m not surprised if technical questions come up.

  18. Hi Brian,

    I have been following your site, and its been a tremendous help in preparing for i banking interviews. I just had an on campus recruiting interview for an investment bank on Tuesday. I thought that it went pretty well, and the two senior bankers informed me that Superday would take place really quickly if called back for a second round––this Friday. I would have thought that I would have heard back by now considering that it is Thursday AM and superday would be tomorrow in NYC. One of my friends interviewed as well and also hasn’t heard back, although he is more familiar with the process (this was my first interview) and said that it can be very impromptu and last minute.

    Is this normal? Should I email one of the bankers I interviewed with by say this afternoon if I still haven’t heard back? I don’t want to be a nuisance.


    1. Yes, email them to follow-up… banks are disorganized and can change plans very last-minute, so it doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

  19. Hi Brian,

    Nice post. One question – I am a sophomore interested in investment banking. I have started to follow the market by reading the WSJ daily, and was wondering if you have any advice on how to best read the Journal. I tend to focus more on the Money & Investing and Marketplace sections, but sometimes it can still be time-consuming as I try to read every piece of article. To make better use of my time, do you recommend that I focus on the news in a few industry groups and skim through the rest of the articles instead? I am very interested in the TMT and Financial Institutions industries, but was wondering if I need knowledge on the rest of the industries to prepare for the interviews.



    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes it is best to focus on a few industry groups and skim through the rest of the articles. I may also create a one-page summary of market & industry news (for your reference) weekly so you keep track of what’s going on and remember what happened. Another way is to find 1 or 2 stocks you’re most interested in in TMT and FI, and create a stock pitch based on valuation data (financial statements, analyst reports) and news from the journal. So rather than just reading the news, you’re learning to select and distill information, which is a lot more useful in interviews.

  20. Hi Brian,

    Thank you very much for your insights.

    I am going to have my first phone interview with an Investment Bank for IB.

    My background is from S&T but I study a M&A course at school currently (I put that on my resume) and I recently won an international competition held by a BB.

    What should I expect for the phone interview? (I heard from other people, they said it’s a phone interview with a senior banker).


    1. M&I - Nicole

      Sometimes its HR. Sometimes it is a junior banker. I doubt it would be senior if it is first round, unless the firm is not too big, though I’m not 100% sure because it depends on the firm, location, and the availability of bankers that day

  21. I am an Engineering senior in Nigeria’s best private University. Recently Applied for a BAML Summer Analyst program in the UK and also applied for a BAML event.Need some directions on how to answer the competency based questions

  22. Hi,

    I followed your networking guide and landed an interview with the M&A team next week. My qns is, what should I focus on?

    I completed my degree in Business Admin and have been working in the bank for 2 months in the back office documentation department. In terms of technical skills and valuation, I don’t have a 100% confidence in it, so should I focus on “FIT” instead?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Congratulations! I think you should focus on fit and why you want to do banking (you need to get this right!) I’d also focus on a few key technical questions i.e. how do the 3 statements link together, how to do a DCF etc.

      1. Hey,

        So I went for the interview last week. It was not an interview at all… The Global Head basically just asked me why did do I want to get into M&A (so i told my story), and then he went on to mention that they only hire from the management associate program for analyst positions and nowhere else.. I tried to ask him about direct hires, but he basically just wanted me to enter through the management associate program..

        Is this even considered an interview to begin with? Also, what should I do from here?

        1. M&I - Nicole

          I’d consider that an informational interview. Can you enter through the m’gmt associate program? If so, I’d do that. Otherwise, I’d still keep in touch with the Global Head and perhaps ask him if he has any insights to improve your candidacy. I’d also network with other people at the same time.

          1. Well.. my degree is from a State university in the US. I definitely will be applying to try it out. But I think I do need a backup plan in case I cant get in through the m’mgt program. What do you think?

          2. M&I - Nicole

            Yes, a backup plan is always useful.

  23. Hey Brian,
    Hope all is well. I’ve been in quant finance for 2 yrs now at a big 4 accounting firm. Recently i got an interview in strat consulting at a BB bank as part of the corporate strategic management group, kinda excited about it. I’ve got 4 interviews and everything’s set including dates/interviewers etc…
    I have no idea what to expect, should i reach out to each interviewer asking for more info regarding the interview or no point considering that I am not a fresh grad – not sure how it’ll be perceived by asking about the structure (case study/technical analysis etc.) for someone who’s been in the industry.

    Many thanks again for your help Brian.

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes it is wise to ask interviewers if they have insights on how you can better prepare for your interview. This shows your initiative, which is a good thing.

  24. There is extensive coverage on M&I about how technical interview questions can be and how to answer them.

    For Internship Interviews:
    1. How Technical do they get?

    2. What kind of technical questions would they be?

    3. My impressions that Internship Interviews are more about the candidate demonstrating and interest in Finance/IB and a willingness to learn and work hard etc, without ‘too’ much technicals, yes? no? partially?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      1. It depends on the group and your experience. Interviewers probably won’t be asking too many tough technical questions especially if you aren’t an Accounting/Finance major or/and haven’t had any IB experience or/and you haven’t finished your Accounting/Finance courses yet. They may ask you a few accounting questions (possibly on DCF too)
      2. Please see the above.
      3. Yes. Willingness to learn, attitude, and passion are key.

  25. Hi your website is brilliant. I am on my way for a first round of an IB interview tomorrow. I have interened at a reputed organization in a similar profile but recently I have been striking out at all interviews. I think its because I fumble in the technical questions. I can answer about 60% of them and just never know how to answer the rest as they are very detailed and I am just a fresher right out of university. Can you suggest some case studies/articles on your site that can help me for my IB interview tomorrow? Thanks alot !

  26. Hi your website is brilliant. I am on my way for a first round of an Investment Banking interview tomorrow. I have interened at a reputed organization in a similar profile but recently I have been striking out at all interviews. I think its because I fumble in the technical questions. I can answer about 60% of the technical questions and just never know how to answer the rest as they are very detailed and I am just a fresher right out of university. Can you suggest some case studies/articles on your site that can help me for my IB interview tomorrow? Thanks alot !

  27. King Kong

    Hi Nicole,

    Is it possible you could call back your first round interviewer to demonstrate how interested you are in the firm and would love to have a chance to work there? I was sick when I had the first round and didn’t do a good job. What is the best way to tell the person over this phone this sensitive information?

    Thanks so much,

    1. We answered your question within the BIWS site – please see your comment there for an idea of what to do.

  28. Hi. I have passed two rounds of interviews with an investment banking and brokerage firm. The first was with HR and the second was the day after with the branch manager. I did a bachelor in Science (biology) and right after that entered graduate school to do a Masters of science in finance. I completed it in 18 months and right after that got the first interview I mentioned before. The branch manager told me she was really impressed with me and told me she wanted me working in their group and that they will be contacting me within a month. After 2 months waiting and hearing nothing, she emailed me telling me she handed my resume to the investment banking director with a great recommendation from her to see if he interviews me but that there are other candidates as well. It has been less than a week since this but I am wondering if it is probable that I will get the third interview and if the questions in the interview are going to be very technical questions?


    1. M&I - Nicole

      Congratulations on your interview! Since it has been less than a week, I’d suggest you to follow up with your contact in a few days for an update. The questions may be a bit technical (Accounting, finance related questions) though I wouldn’t stress about it. Try to prepare as much as you can be reading up on news, investopedia and perhaps check out our BIWS interview guide.

  29. I had an interview with Goldman Sachs today. In the past I have had summer jobs/internships that are not related to what I am studying in school. Finance and Accounting. I have a 3.53 GPA.

    The question they asked was : Why do you want to change careers into IB when you have been working for a web development company.

    The previous jobs I have had were to get experience in the business world and make a few bucks over the summer. This is why I am looking for an internship in the field I want to be in. Is this situation that I am in a lost cause? I know that most of my friends that are studying the same thing I am were not able to get IB internships during the summer while in college.

    I received an email two days after the interview with GS and they said that my application was on “hold”. In your past comments you mentioned that “hold” was a hold to see if someone would drop out and you may get a chance but if you had no chance would it still be a “hold” instead of a “no”?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      No, you are not a lost cause though you will have to demonstrate your passion in banking and articulate clearly why you want banking. No, a hold means a hold. If you had no chance they would have rejected you on the spot.

  30. Brian,

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge, great article. Hopefully my question is relevant to the article, but not sure. I am looking to do a career transition from IT Business Analysis to Investments/Finance. I have an interview for an Investment Associate role at a Wealth Management firm and I am looking at how to prepare. Would you say that your tips apply for my interview (the technical ones)? If not, would you know of a link to check for this? Or what are the top most relevant technical topics would you say I should prepare on? Thanks immensely.

    1. The fit tips still apply, the technical ones not as much. Accounting and valuation yes, mergers and LBO models, no – know the markets really well and have a few stock pitches in mind.

  31. I had a IB internship last Fall and my MD listed some transactions on my resume. I was really involved with one of the transactions and not so much the other. I literally worked a day out of the 4 months on one of the transactions. Is it better just to leave the transaction off? Or can I mention in interviews that I was involved in the qualitative side of the deal? i.e. putting together the CIM

    1. M&I - Nicole

      You can mention the transaction but state what you did specifically

  32. Just finished my final round interviews with MD for IBD summer intern last week. When should I expect to hear back? BTW, if I did not know the answer to a single, will that affect my overall result? Thanks!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      You should hear back by this week or not next week. Otherwise, I’d suggest you to follow up with an email

      Depends on how you managed the situation…

      1. Thanks. BTW, if i did not manage to answer a question which i think might be important. is it ok if i tell my answer in the follow-up thank you email? ( i already did that though…)

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Its ok though not necessary; depends on the situation

  33. Samuel Haan

    Hey I was wondering if you had an opinion on the different groups within GSAM? If I had to select between AIMS, TPD and Funding what would you recommend? Thanks!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Depends on which one you have a preference for and which group you like better. Also depends what type of work you’ll be doing with each one.

      I’m not familiar w the teams but if you can give us more info we might be able to give you better insights

  34. Steve Evans

    Should I send thank you notes in person, ie written ones? Just in case some people accept offers elsewhere and I am reconsidered for the position again?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes, an email works though you can always be creative and send a creative and personalized thank you note

  35. Hi Nicole,
    So the interview is the only thing that decides whether the candidate gets the interview or not?
    Does it ever happen that the interview went really well, but then the interviewers have to only choose 1 or 2 people from the same school, and he willlook again at the resume and pick the one with higher GPA for example, even though that person only interviewed mediocrely?
    My GPA is only 3.5 so at BB do you think this is a deterrence?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      No, in that situation, the 2 candidates will probably go through more interview rounds and interviewers will choose the one they think is the best fit

      Your GPA is fine

  36. Hi,

    I just wanted to ask whether it would be possible expect that after assessment center a bank suggest to join you in other division than you are applying for. For instance, if the bank’s representatives think that you might excel in Equity Research instead of investment management, after assessment center they will call you with this suggestion. Have you ever heard something like that? Is it possible?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I believe it is possible.

  37. Guys,

    Anyone of you have been invited to assessment center of Wealth Management division? I am mostly interested in knowing whether cases, presentations and group discussion differ from IB assessment center.


    1. M&I - Nicole

      Haven’t been in WM assessment center so I can’t say. Readers might be able to offer you more insights

  38. Thanks for the great stuff.

    I know for a fact that the interviewer for my first round will be a recruiter. Does that mean I can expect less-no technical questions?

    Also, is the “walk me through your resume” and “tell me about yourself” posed as one or two questions usually?

    1. M&I - Nicole


      Its usually one question

  39. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the excellent post. I am currently interviewing at a boutique/MM bank (12 people in the office) for analyst position for a sector group(off-cycle recruiting). I already did 2 rounds of phone interviews and a project. The next step is superday.

    How many people candidates would typically be there for the superday?

    Also, the two past rounds were very very technical, should I expect the last round to be more focused on fit questions?

    How does off-cycle recruiting differ from campus recruiting in terms of competition, selection criteria,… It would be nice if you guys could write a post about off-cycle recruiting!


    1. M&I - Nicole

      Perhaps less than 10 I’d guess but I may be wrong.

      Yes, fit and culture.

      I think the selection criteria would be the same though the competition might be less keen because I’d presume the strongest candidates would be competing for roles during the standard campus recruiting process. However, I do believe positions available in off-cycle recruiting are probably less and you might also be competing ag/ peeps with FT work experience

  40. Hey,

    I have a 15minute phone screen interview. Do you know usually what kind of questions do they ask? Are phone screen usually about fit or technical? Should I pretty much know the “why ibanking”, “walk me through your resume” and other fit questions?



    1. M&I - Nicole

      Usually fit. Yes why banking, your leadership/analytical skills, why that bank, walk me through your resume etc

  41. Just wanted to say thank you for all of these great articles! I’ve been reading them for several months now and I have to tell you everything on these pages is gold. I just received my first IB offer today and I can thank this website for helping me understand the process and how to succeed with networking/recruiting/interviewing. Thanks again! Now time to start practicing ordering bottles…

    1. M&I - Nicole


      1. On a related note, do you have to get the hang of picking up models or does it come naturally once you start your job in finance?

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Ha. Check out David Deanglo’s stuff if you want to pick up girls. When you’re working in finance, you are probably so busy as an analyst that you won’t have the time/energy/looks to pick up models. ;) Of course it depends on the person

  42. Hi, thank you a lot for the information you share, it is very helpful. Next week I am having a interview with a investment boutique about an analyst Internship, I am just worried about practical questions because I did not had any experience in investment bank before, just academic part in my Bachelor of Finance and Masters in Business Studies (Not MBA) where I had theoretical studies about DCF valuation and that’s it. So I would like to ask, how possible that I will get non-theoretical/practical exercise about LBO and other types of valuation if based on my resume that I sent, I don’t have experience in such fields, and posses just some general finance experience.

    Thank you in advance!

    1. It is very possible. Case studies are unlikely but questions about valuation are definitely possible and possibly more than that.

  43. Hi,

    Great website, thanks
    I am a recent MBA graduate (Finanace) from Canada (Nov 2010), I took however a couple of more specialised Finanace courses at the same university (MBA electives) till the end of December 2010. My bachelor degree is in Industrial Engineering and I have 10 years experience in four companies (not in North America). I am very interested in switching to investment banking and I am really passionate and enthusiastic to learn about it every day. I tried looking for an opportunity in my city (Montreal) but unfortunately I haven’t been successful so far as the opportunities in IB are exrtremely limited. I started pursuing opportunities in NYC but I feel that a long time has passed since my graduation and this will considerably lower my chances into getting interviews in NYC. How realistic do you think I am in trying to look for a job in IB in NYC, do you think if i move physically there before finding a job will increase my chances?

    1. Yes, moving there will help a lot. I would definitely go to NY and start networking there as there are far more banks.

  44. Is this true for Sales and Trading roles in HK as well?

    1. No, this article is only for investment banking, not sales & trading

  45. I’ll be having my first banking interview on Tuesday with B of A. I’m a sophomore right now and haven’t had any finance related internships before. Aside from basic accounting questions, should I expect less technical questions and more fit questions because of my relative inexperience?

    1. Maybe, maybe not. I hesitate to say “yes” because someone reply and say they got all highly technical questions even with no finance experience. But the chances of that happening are lower if you don’t have finance internships so yes I would focus more on fit.

  46. Hi!

    Thanks for the post. I recently had phone interviews for a BB with 2 analysts. I thought I did pretty well – all techs right and fit questions decent. However, they did not invite me for a superday. What may be the reason that I’m dinged or put on hold?

    1. in addition: target school, high GPA, past work experience in IBD (not BB)

  47. Great article. What kind of technical questions do you think an analyst-level lateral higher would get if coming from another part of the firm (sales, trading, research, etc)? I’m mostly curious about technical/banking specific questions–I would think “fit”/”why lateral/leave xyz division” questions would be pretty straightforward.

    1. They would probably ask more about the deals or clients you’ve worked with or the companies you’ve covered in research, and frame most technical questions in that context… “So you covered Pharma XYZ, tell me about how to build a revenue model for them.”

  48. Thanks, will do. I messed up with an angry analyst who was having a bad day. I know analysts are more involved in the process of selecting resumes for the Superday of interviews. However, i have contacts in this firm at all levels. If a VP in a different department really likes me, do you think he can overrule the analysts decision? I just dont want to waste anybody’s time…BTW thanks for the help, much appreciated.

    1. Depends on the bank, but it’s worth a shot.

  49. Ms Worried

    Your website is incredible. I wish I would have gone through the entire thing before I potentially completely wrecked my chances with a BB bank. I have been networking and interviewing there for weeks and things were going great. Getting closer to the Superday of interviews, I had a phone interview with a person I have never met before. He is good friends with some of the people I know – the technical part ended early because we went off topic and the interview ended up getting along great. We agreed to meet in person. Big mistake – I’m pretty certain that I blew it. I’ve met almost 10 other people in the firm prior to this. Do you think my chances are up? Would other people be able to overrule his opinion in terms of whether or not I get invited to the Superday of interviews? Should I bother pursuing my other contacts in the firm, or can one bad day undue it all completely?

    1. Really depends on the firm and the group and how you screwed up specifically… I would still follow-up with your other contacts and check on your status.

  50. Thanks for the helpful post. Just some background on me: I’m a third year Finance major preparing to do a few on-campus interviews for summer internships.

    I’m confident in my personality and interviewing skills; however, I’m a little worried about my lack of relevant internship experience (I worked in a doctor’s office on summer and traveled in Europe in another). What’s the best way to spin this other than saying, “I recently developed my interest in Finance”? Thanks.

    1. Just say you wanted to learn as much about finance in class as you could, but had the opportunity to take a once-in-a-lifetime trip one summer so you decided to do that and see what you could gain from it. Plus, traveling around Europe taught you a lot about [teamwork, leadership, understanding cultures, etc.]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *