by Brian DeChesare Comments (154)

Why You Weren’t Selected for That Interview at JP Morgan

Why You Weren't Selected for That Interview at JP Morgan

It’s a question I’ve been getting a lot lately.

“Why didn’t I get an interview at Morgan Stanley New York?”

“Why was my friend selected for JP Morgan Houston but I was not?”

“Why did I get an interview at CS Hong Kong even though my resume had a typo in it?”

Interview selection at individual banks is incredibly random, and you never know what someone’s biases will be.

Yes, if you “bankify” your resume and avoid common mistakes, you have a higher probability of getting an interview. But that doesn’t mean you’ll actually get one – and sometimes even if your resume is awful, you might still get an interview.

Example #1: A Real-Life Jack Bauer

Once, we were sitting around reviewing resumes and someone stumbled across a guy who had served in the military (in a country where it was a requirement).

Alone, that wouldn’t be too impressive – but this guy had served in several well-known battlefields and listed them all on his resume.

One of the bankers in the room was also ex-military so this immediately jumped out at him – and even though this guy had 0 finance experience and his resume was marginal at best, he still got an interview on the recommendation of the ex-military banker.

If you know how to commandeer vehicles, pitch books should be easy, right?

Example #2: My Disagreeable Roommate

We had just received a resume from one of my former roommates. He was transitioning from wealth management to investment banking, and he had all the elements of a successful resume.

I took one look at it and told everyone in the room we shouldn’t interview him.

As roommates, we got into arguments over the smallest issues and there was no way I could ever see myself or anyone else working long hours with him.

You could argue that living with someone is different from working with him, but in banking you basically live with your co-workers.

Example #3: That (Fake?) Private Equity Internship

One time we saw a lot of applicants from one school had all “interned” at the same “private equity” firm. Normally we only spent 30 seconds per resume and never did any outside research, but seeing 5-10 people all with internships at one place raised some eyebrows.

None of us had heard of this firm, so it was either fake or another J.T. Marlin.

We did some digging online and found that it was real – but it was also inaccurate to label it “private equity.” It was more of a “Well, my rich uncle just gave us $5 million to invest so let’s look at some cool startups in the area” type of place.

We did not give an interview to anyone who claimed they “worked on LBOs.”

Example #4: The Failed Fraternity Guy

One guy who had some solid experience and a few banking internships had just submitted his resume.

When we were reviewing it, someone else in the room recognized him – it turned out this same guy had (unsuccessfully) rushed his fraternity a few years back. In fact, it was more than unsuccessful – everyone hated him and wanted nothing to do with him in the aftermath.

There were also suspicions of illegal activities on his part (use your imagination). Deciding that the risk was not worth it, we did not give him an interview.

Example #5: The Guy Who Wouldn’t Take “No” for an Answer

This one appeared in the comments the other day but it was in an article from over a year ago, so I felt it would be worth highlighting here:

“My situation was very bad…I had no prior work experience (neither industrial nor financial), I had no student exchange programs (highly rated in Europe), I had no stellar grades…BUT I had a genuine and strong interest for IB.”

Ok, so far you have an uphill battle…

“I wrote a full-of-passion investment banking cover letter, and they called me for the 1st round; my motivation impressed the Associates I talked with and after two weeks I was called for the 2nd round (a business case followed by a discussion with a VP, and a traditional interview with a Director).

The day after they offered me the job, although other candidates had better resumes (prior Internships in Bulge Brackets!).”

Nothing is impossible.

So What Can You Do About It?

If the recruiting process is so random and you get accepted or rejected for reasons beyond your control, what can you actually do about it?

  1. Spread your net wide. A great resume is only effective if you apply everywhere, from the tiniest boutique to Goldman Sachs.
  2. Play nice with others. Finance is a small world, and someone not liking you elsewhere often comes back to haunt you here.
  3. Don’t be afraid to be interesting – random facts can help you quite a bit (but please, don’t do a video resume, at least not in finance).
  4. Oh yeah, you still need to have a good resume anyway. Luck won’t help you everywhere, even if you are a real-life Jack Bauer.
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.

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  1. JP Morgan introduced Pymetrics, neuropsychology based online games, to it’s recruitment process. It is different than the typical numerical/verbal online tests you get. And apparently they eliminate people who don’t match their standards. I guess the traditional networking ninja won’t be efficient anymore.

    1. Those tests don’t change much. They’re just something else you have to go through, and there’s no telling if banks will even keep using them. To win interviews and eventually offers, you still need to network by speaking with humans and win interviews by meeting with humans… they’re never going to award job offers based on the results of an online game.

      These efforts are cost-cutting measures, nothing more. Banks want to save money and make recruiting cheaper by de-humanizing the process.

  2. So apparently, I’m overqualified for starting positions. What do I do next?

    1. I need more information to answer that question. Overqualified as in…? What university did you attend, what were your grades, and what’s your internship and work experience like? Your alumni network? How many years out of school are you?

  3. Hi Brian / Nicole,

    This is my first comment, thanks for all the great articles here. I’m Chinese and have been working in DCM & Sales department at a Chinese securities firm for 3 years.

    I’m very interested in one JPM China DCM opportunity and have applied on the recruitment website 10 days ago. Got nothing after the confirm email and the “joined talent network” email. The job was posted on early March so I’m not sure if there are already tons of applications before me. I had an internal refer from middle office, and I heard from the guy that JPM’s JV was still in early stage in China, so they’re recruiting ED/MDs, after which will be junior candidates. I also cold-emailed the group head, asked if there’s still headcounts and the recruitment process 1 week ago, and a follow-up yesterday since there’s no reply.

    To make it more complicate, just 3 days after my application, I found an MD move from UBS China to JPM China to be the Equities group head, from Linkedin notice. Guess what: He’s the boss who interviewed me for UBS summer intern 4 years ago, and after what I thought a nice & steady interview, I got dinged. (Truly regret not seeing this website that time.)

    Should I say hello to the MD who just moved in and ask about the recruting process (hesitate cause it may bring his bad impression on me)? Or should I just wait and continue following up the email? I would truly appreciate about any advice.

    1. Yes, definitely follow up with the MD to ask about it. You have nothing to lose. If it happened 4 years ago, he may not even remember all the details, given that bankers interview dozens of candidates (or more) each year. It would have helped if you had followed up with him periodically in between, but you might as well reach out now.

      1. Hi Brian, I mailed the MD but he wasn’t on my target group so he helped me to find an relevant HR. I got reply from the HR that this position was actually hiring VP level and they somehow didn’t mention that on the website. Of course my 3 year experience is far less than enough.

        I replied that I’ll continue improving my skill set and visit the website regularly, hope there will be junior roles later.

        Anyway, thanks a lot for your advices, hope this site will get better. BTW, I’ll defenitely buy your program if there’s an interview.

        1. Sure, glad to hear it. Good luck!

  4. Thanks to your help, I have been able to receive an IB internship at a BB for next summer and I am now doing a lot of networking for spring group placements.

    Since I am new to networking and I am networking this early, do you have any advice on how to most effectively follow-up with bankers after 2 – 3 months because I feel like I run out of good group related questions from my first phone call with them and I don’t want to over do it. But I do want them to remember me.

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    1. You don’t need to contact them that frequently. Just send whatever questions you have, and then contact them again right before the Sell Day or whatever they use to assign groups. If you’ve won an offer there and you ask good questions, they will remember you.

  5. Dear Brian,

    I have applied for some of the Bulge brackets 2 weeks ago, namely JPM and BAML. I wonder: how long will the banks take from applications received to sending out interview/test offers? I am pretty worried about whether I have been screened out during the process….

    FYI, I am from APAC region and have a GPA slightly lower than 3.6 with relevant banking background.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. It varies based on the year and region… follow up if you haven’t heard back in another week or so, or, better yet, reach out to your contacts at the banks and ask if they know how the process works or have any updates.

  6. I am a little confused on how to market myself, or how to explain my grade level in interviews. I currently am a sophomore student according to the school, but it’s my 3rd year (4 credits shy of being a junior). I could easily take add one credit hour per semester to graduate on time, but my school told me to still label myself as a sophomore. Because of this, am I only allowed to apply for sophomore specific programs? Or would it be beneficial to do the extra semester? No one in my school has the slightest clue about IB.

    1. If you haven’t had previous finance internships, call yourself a sophomore and start networking/applying for internships ASAP. Actually, even if you have had previous internships, you should probably still do that because recruiting for summer roles now starts insanely early, and many banks have already finished their 2018 summer processes almost a year in advance.

  7. Hi,

    I was wondering if I could get advice on next steps. I have networked at a bulge bracket, applied the day the applications opened up and informed my network (MD and a Partner) that I applied. They said they would forward my resume to HR and recommend me for an interview. It has been over a month since I applied and still no first round (HireVue). Do you have any advice as to what I could do to make sure my resume was not lost in the pile? I come from a non-target school.

    1. Follow up, follow up, follow up, follow up…. networking is almost 100% about following up repeatedly. You should have done this when you didn’t hear back after a week.

  8. Hi!!!
    Im currently finishing my masters in economics and still choosing whether to do a second masters in information science for business or a second master in finance and investment. The thing is, even though I studied economics i seriously lack knowledge on finance and investment ..basically no knowledge at all..and im wonderng whether i could get a job in investment banking without a finance master? (then I can pick the ICT master as a sort of back up plan)

    Thank you so so much for your time!

    1. You should do the degree in finance and investment if you have no knowledge of it. You might be able to get an IB job without that degree, but not without the knowledge.

  9. Hey Brian,

    I am a sophomore with a GPA of around 3.6 from a top public school (the business school within the school), think UMich, UVA, UT, UBerkeley. I do a fair amount of networking and have made some pretty good relationships with people at EB’s and some BB’s as well. I am also involved on campus and have some good leadership roles. I am worried about recruiting because I know that many of my peers have much higher GPA’s than I do, ranging from 3.7-4.0. Will people pass over me because of my GPA or is the networking still useful? I’m worried I’m wasting time and money doing networking trips and the like.


    1. A 3.6 is good enough. At that stage, networking is still useful and necessary and matters more than a slightly better GPA.

  10. Avatar
    Wonu Temowo

    Hi Nicole / Brian,

    I need your help! I have no experience in the banking industry but I am interested in being an Operations Analyst at a bank or a management consultant.

    I have tried applying to companies such as Goldman Sachs, McKinsey and EY and have not gotten past the CV submission stage.
    I am a Mechanical Engineering graduate and a current MSc Operations, Project and Supply Chain Management student at the University of Manchester.

    Do you think i do not have a chance at all and quit applying to such firms? or there is something I am consistently doing wrong.

    Thank you.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      We don’t specialise in operations or consulting so I am not 100% sure if we can give you the best advice here. Seems like you have some relevant experience at school, but I think most companies are more interested in work experience so if you can demonstrate that you’ve had some operations/consulting experience (even if they are case studies) that would be useful. I’d also suggest that you visit for more details.

      1. Thank you for your response. How do I include the experience from case studies in a CV for example? Or is it something that should can be reflected/explained in a cover letter alone?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Just list what you did/analysed on the case study under “CASE STUDIES”, and talk about the valuation methods you’ve used. Best to include this in your CV vs. CL.

  11. Hi, I have a doubt.
    I’m in an Italian business school, and I don’t understand what is the ”minimum” GPA to get into investment banking.
    Here grades are out of 30, so do you think that 27/30 is enough ?
    Or 28-29/30 is the rule? Do you know some bankers from Italy experience.
    I’m sorry for my english,I hope you will answer. :D

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d say 28-29 though I’d speak with bankers in your country to confirm the number.

  12. Hi Brian,

    I love the site––it’s been very helpful. I haven’t found an article on what to do after you are chosen as an “alternate for offer.” Is there anyway to boost your chances after that happens? I just had my final round interviews for my top choice bank this summer, and the first few interviews went great, however the last one was mediocre (but not terrible by any means). Overall, I thought the day went fantastic and I was very optimistic after the fact. But I just got notified that I was selected as an “alternate.” What do you feel the odds are in this case? Any advice on what I can do now (if anything)? I thought about sending another email to the head interviewer reiterating my interest in the position, but I don’t want to annoy them or sound desperate. This is definitely my top choice though, so I want to do everything I can.


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Odds: 50/50…I don’t think you can do much because they’ve probably extended the offer to another candidate and waiting for him/her to respond (I maybe wrong). Yes sending an email can help you, though I wouldn’t be too stressed about it. If you have any new developments etc you can keep them posted. Otherwise, I’d wait and continue networking. Seems like you’ve done your best and given your all so I’d pat yourself on the back, relax and see how it goes.

  13. Avatar
    bo analyst


    Hi Nicole / Brian,

    My posts are below. They threw a bomb at me today and have scheduled the interview on Monday @ 6 pm.

    All my planning is useless now. I don’t even know if the interview will be for ibd, equity research or credit analysis. They will tell me in a few mins. Chances are it’ll be for a coverage group if it’s ibd or credit analysis. Sadly, I never followed an industry.

    I would deeply appreciate advice on how I should use this period to prepare, and any SOS advice. How should I convey that I was just about to begin industry research?

    Thanks for your time.

    1. Avatar
      bo analyst

      The interview is for fund accounting. All the members of the group are chartered accountants. I’m depressed because it’s not ibd at all. In your advice, is there a way from MO accounting to FO ibd?
      Thanks, I appreciate your time.

      1. Avatar
        bo analyst

        Fund accounting is a little related to FP&A.

        I’m thoroughly depressed as I have successfully made a mess out of my career.

        You guys were very helpful throughout and I consider this website the best resource of all. Sadly, the ib dream is over for me.
        All the best.

      2. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

        I personally would be thankful for the opportunity to interview with the firm. Even if it isn’t IBD, the role may gave you the opportunity to meet people and practice your interviewing skills. You can always transfer internally – This is only one interview; you can always interview for other IB roles after this one.

        1. Avatar
          bo analyst

          Thank you so much, Nicole! Once again, i am astonished by the helpfulness displayed by M&I / BIWS. thank you for changing my outlook. I will continue to strive for IBD, and will use the biws guides and course to achieve my goal. Have a great weekend.

          1. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            You too.

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Congratulations! This is exciting! I’d focus on your pitch, your background and be able to articulate your skills, your value-add as well as what you’re planning to do in the future. It would be useful to know which group it is for, but if you don’t, you’ll just have to tailor your pitch for a generic purpose. If you have subscribed to our Interview Guide, you may want to go through the fit questions.

  14. Avatar
    bo analyst

    Hi Brian / Nicole,

    I would deeply appreciate your advice on the below:

    I have an IB analyst interview, that may be scheduled sometime mid feb 2014. I’m a 2nd year analyst in operations with some BO experience at a BB and have read some CFA L1 material.

    As you can guess, this is an opportunity of a lifetime for me. I got it because I topped in an in-house equity training course at my BB covering valuation and modeling apart from correctly answering a lot of the questions they asked us (they never thought any of us would have a clue). Also, I networked like hell. Still, the course was basic and I’m going to buy BIWS to learn modeling.

    I would deeply appreciate any advice on how to prepare and use this two month period to prepare.

    Your advice can make my life.

      1. Avatar
        BO Analyst

        Thank you, Nicole!

        I have made up my mind to buy the BIWS premium. Would you be able to advice a book or resource that would help me master accounting before I begin financial modeling training. I am studying the CFA L1 book for accounting called Financial reporting & analysis. Please advise. Thank you.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Thanks for your follow-up! You don’t actually need to go through any additional courses before commencing our courses. If you are going through our Fundamentals course, we’ll go through all you need to know to start and the materials are designed for students who have had limited modeling experience. With the above being said, if you really want to go through another book, I’d suggest though it can be pretty intensive and a lot of materials to go through.

          1. Avatar
            BO Analyst

            I appreciate your prompt response. I have this book and will go through it if you suggest.

            However, I was looking for a reference/book on accounting rather than valuation because the interview I had 6 months back was veering towards accounting.

            So, based on your response, my rephrased question is: would you say that CFA L1 financial reporting and analysis would be good enough foundation for beginning financial modeling using the BIWS course or would you advise another text?

            I am sorry if I sound repetitive. I just don’t want to lose a single day and I will use my weekend to study based on your advice.

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Your hard work is commendable! I think the CFA Level 1 materials are sufficient. Otherwise, you may be overloading yourself with information. As I’ve said earlier, you can just commence the BIWS course without additional materials. Please head over to our BIWS forum once you’ve signed up for our courses. We look forward to seeing you there!

          3. Avatar
            bo analyst / soon to be customer

            I was expecting your reply by Monday because the weekend had begun, and am astonished by the quickness of your response. It speaks about BIWS / M&I’s commitment. Thank you for saving 1 day of my prep :)
            I’ll purchase the course on the 18th of jan, and will definitely express my gratitude again at that time.
            Have a great weekend!

          4. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            No worries. Let us know if you have any questions and we look forward to seeing you in our BIWS community.

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