by Brian DeChesare Comments (187)

The Investment Banking Interview Selection Process

The Investment Banking Interview Selection Process

“Life all comes down to a few moments. This is one of them.”

-Bud Fox, Wall Street

Heading into an investment banking interview? Make sure you read this carefully, since your life will depend on it.

One of my most frequently asked questions is how exactly investment bankers decide who gets an offer following a round of Superday interviews.

Sure, maybe you did everything right to prepare for investment banking interview questions, but ultimately it’s up to those who interviewed you.

Although it may be tempting, you don’t want to be like Bud Fox and use inside information to get an investment banking job.

Who Calls The Shots

Unlike the investment banking resume review process, Managing Directors are actually involved in handing out offers. HR, by contrast, does essentially nothing aside from the logistics. They don’t review resumes or make any calls themselves, aside from possibly how many Analysts to give offers to. But usually the MDs tell them how many they need.

Typically everyone from Analyst level to the Managing Director will interview candidates. It’s ultimately the MD’s decision who gets hired and who does not, but everyone does have a say in the process.

The Selection Process

After the first round of interviews, the interviewers decide among themselves who they want to invite back for final round interviews. We don’t “rank” people but generally have in mind the best few people we saw that day.

Sometimes there are too many people and not enough slots, in which case we will give slots to the best few and then decide who among the rest should get an interview. This part of the process can be unfair because not everyone has interviewed all the candidates and different people have different standards.

During Superday, each interviewer will evaluate different qualities (leadership, drive, technical skills, etc.) for each candidate. There is no “ranking” most of the time unless there are a ton of great people and not enough slots. I’ve never seen that happen as there are generally very few outstanding people.

Afterward, HR will gather everyone up for a debrief and see what people thought. Usually consensus emerges pretty quickly on who we give offers to, who we say no to and who we put “on hold.” The MDs have final say, but very rarely do people disagree. And needless to say, if an Analyst is pushing for someone but no one else liked him/her, the investment banking analyst is overruled.

How Many Get Selected

The absolute number depends on the office, group, and specific bank so it’s meaningless to list that here. In general, we will receive 500-1000 investment banking resumes for 30-50 spots, then give Superday interviews to 10 of those 30-50. Then we will pick 2-3 of those to actually receive offers, or maybe even fewer depending on how interviews go.

On a strict percentage basis, your odds aren’t great here. However, most people we interview do not stand out much and you can greatly improve your chances just by following a few simple interview tips.

Investment banks repeat this process at different schools until enough Analysts are hired. If there’s attrition mid-year or people back out of offers, we might look for lateral hires.

What We Look For In Candidates

School/GPA is almost irrelevant after the interview. It’s only relevant for getting your foot in the door.

Generally I look for people who really, really want an investment banking job and will do anything to get it.

Some interviewees are doing it just to test the waters and don’t really know what they’re getting into. Bankers can spot people like this from a mile away.

You don’t want to be one of them. Prove that you can work hard on very little sleep, learn quickly, play well in teams and are hungry to get experience and you will get offers.

Does The Interview Selection Process Change From Year To Year?

Not really, no. This is one area where banks could improve their interview processes – see who does well in the job vs. how they came across in interviews, and look for more of the qualities that result in good Analysts.

It’s very easy to discern a good interviewee from a bad one, but it’s much harder to tell good bankers from bad bankers before they actually do the job. I know of people who interview very well but are actually bad employees and I know of great investment banking analysts who are terrible at interviewing.

It’s never a perfect process but reviewing past interviews and hires may definitely be a good way to re-calibrate things.

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. Quick question. I have applied to a “2018 Analyst” back in September of 2017. The position had relatively little information regarding the requirements of the job. I also subsequently applied for another Analyst position in the same group, similar role, which had more detailed job description in the post. The former of the two appeared to be more of an Analyst training program. My application was quickly denied for the latter of the two, however, to this day, my application for the 2018 Analyst position is listed as “Application Under Review”. Is typical for analyst training programs, or should I forget about this one? I saw in your recent newsletter that IBs typically hire new Analysts in the summer.

    1. Yes, this happens a lot, but recruiting for summer internships now takes place 1.5 years in advance of the internships. So I’m not sure what you were actually applying for. As always, your best bet is to do some networking and ask around at the bank to see what’s happening (and if anything else is open).

  2. I applied to several banks for OCR, but just found out that I was not invited even to first-round interviews. I have networked with several of the bankers in these groups and they seemed to like me. Should I send an email to them and see if I could at least get an interviewing opportunity? I’ll be applying to other groups in the coming few weeks. Should I be concerned?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I’d send an email to them and see if they can give you any feedback. I’d suggest that you have your friends/people in the industry look at your application so you can improve your applications for the other groups accordingly.

  3. Hi Brian,

    Great article! I am of German nationality with an internship coming up at a “Tier 2” BB. As there is no guarantee that I will be offered a FT position, I was wondering what your thoughts were on networking with people from other banks prior to my internship taking place? (It runs through recruiting season – can’t wait until after!) How can I make sure this doesn’t get back to my bank? As we all know, finance is a small world.


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d be quite discrete about it and try not to “broadcast” that you’re looking for other roles. However many summer interns do look for roles in other firms so this isn’t uncommon; I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

  4. After a bulge bracket super day, what is the interpretation of being put on hold? Would you happen to know how many people get in off the hold list?

    Thank you

      1. Thank you, that is helpful. It was strange because they called me the day after the interview and said I did well but am on hold.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes this happens.

  5. Recently had my first ever IB interview with JPM a few days ago for a summer analyst role. It was two competency based interviews with a VP and MD. I really enjoyed it and thought I had good rapport with the interviewers, both interviews went past their allocated times as the conversation continued to flow easily and enjoyably. However lo and behold I didn’t get invited to the assessment day. I’m trying to figure out the mistakes I made. As spoken about in this article the first round is mostly to make sure you can do the job rather than if they like you. Is it a mistake to be too at ease with the interviewer in these situations and too enjoy it too much? The role was in CIB Risk.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      It is hard to say especially since we were not present at the interview. What you can do, however, is send a follow-up email to your interviewer and see if he can give you feedback on your interview and thoughts on how you can improve for future interviews.

  6. Avatar

    “In general, we will receive 500-1000 investment banking resumes for 30-50 spots, then give Superday interviews to 10 of those 30-50. Then we will pick 2-3 of those to actually receive offers, or maybe even fewer depending on how interviews go.”

    How come only 2-3 get offers for 30-50 spots? Does “spot” refer to something other than an open position? Or are most of the spots already filled with people with connections?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Great question. Yes I believe the spots outside of the 2-3 are spots for say returning interns from last year, people with connections, etc.

  7. Hi,
    How would you rank a phone interview or meeting with an alumni (from the bank you applied to) in this process? I’m assuming it will be just typical why do you want to work for us, why investment banking, etc. type questions, but do you see that as a first round interview or just a screening?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I’d say a screening and a first round especially if you’re speaking with an alum from a bank you applied to

  8. Avatar

    Hi Brian and M&I,

    I’m in a situation which I was hoping you could be of help. However, I wanted to ask it anonymously as the situation could easily let others know who I am if they already know me. Is there any way I can contact via email?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thank you for your support! Please leave your question on the comments forum anonymously and we will respond to you. We don’t offer email advice in fairness to other BIWS and coaching customers who have signed up for our services.

  9. Avatar

    Am I doing right thing?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Pls refer to my previous responses

      1. I am getting frustrated. So, a foolish question.

        I have described my background long back. Keeping USA’s present economic conditions and my educational background and experience please tell me (1) my chances of getting a suitable job and (2) by what time I should get it.

        I have been continuing my networking.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Good job on the networking. With networking, the key is to be persistent and not give up.
          (1) It’s hard to say because I’ve not worked with you personally before. Since you require sponsorship for your visa it maybe more challenging but it is definitely doable.
          (2) This is a question that I can’t answer. You’ll have to be patient.

          1. My 1st question was on the basis of only USA’s present job market vis-a-vis economic conditions and my background+experience. And the 2nd question I asked in view of my OPT’s stipulation of 19th September.

            Will you kindly review my questions once more and your answers?

          2. To clarify how this site works: we attempt to answer comments and questions free of charge, when possible, in the interest of serving this community.

            You have asked a significant number of lengthy questions, and it costs us staff time to respond to your questions – as a result, there is a limit on what we can answer for free in response to these types of in-depth questions.

            We also have customers of our courses and coaching clients who pay for more access and support because they have in-depth questions that require answers.

            While we balance that with the “free” side of the site so that this community remains useful even if you have not signed up for anything, again, there is only so much we can answer for free.

            On your questions: if I am interpreting what you said correctly:

            1) If you need visa sponsorship, I would not focus on the US. Yes, it’s possible to get in, but it is easier for university students with no previous experience.

            2) Networking into a finance job often takes 6-12 months. It is not an easy process – it is extremely difficult and ego-bruising, and you have to be prepared for a lot of rejection along the way. It is a competitive industry and it is very difficult to get hired. Readers who get in often report getting rejected dozens or hundreds of times along the way.

            Again, if you require more in-depth responses, please sign up for one of our courses and/or coaching services and we can provide services that are more suitable for your needs there. This is about all we can help with via brief comments on the site.

  10. Avatar


    I am quite unsure of my fate.

    For, that Sr HR Manager, Healthcare Advisory board informed me again on 8th July of her own through email that she did come in touch with Staff recruitment team and would know more within a few WEEKS! She was to send me email on 1st July if she could learn anything about Staff recruitment team.

    Weeks after weeks are passing and that Sr manager sent me totally 3 emails since the devastating info of my rejection (15th June).

    I have replied that I was ready for fresh interview and was also ready for any location.

    Now please suggest if she is really planning to influence the Staff recruitment team for me and accordingly I should wait for a positive move; or, the whole thing is a farce.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’d wait for a few days and call/send the HR manager an email early next week to follow-up. I wouldn’t rule this opportunity out though I’d keep looking too.

      1. Avatar

        I too not ruling out this opportunity; but I beg to differ with your advice, sorry.

        I will not contact them. The reasons I already stated in my early posting: If they really need me, they will definitely ensure contacting me and if they don’t need me, hundreds of contacting/emailing attempts will be of no use.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I can understand.

  11. Honestly speaking I understand that E & Y’s mail to me was of no value; had they been in need of me even in ‘Staff position’, they would have taken initiative to restart process of recruitment. But they did not. So, I am forgetting E & Y. I have resumed networking and applying for positions anew instead.

    May I know your comments/ advice? Specially to gauge if such efforts being started from end June will result into my landing a job before September 15, my stipulated date of OPT?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes its best to start networking as soon as you can. However, many companies have already finished hiring summer interns and quite a few people will be awya for the summer. Chances can be challenging though you may be lucky and come across firms that need people. I’d also target other Accounting firms (TAS) because they are more likely to give out visa. You can then break into IB from there

      1. I trust you are able to recall the entire happenings of my struggling efforts-failures-helplessness etc.

        I was sure that I MUST forget E & Y. And I was trying that; succeeding too.

        But strangely that HR senior manager sent me again an email last evening mentioning that she would know more about the Staff position by July 1 and would come in touch with me after that.

        I am confused: should I remain hopeful and start rekindling hopes of recruitment? Or, should I forget and forget forever, treating it as another consolation cum sympathy of that wonderful senior HR manager?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Congratulations! I would not worry about it. The HR manager will get back to you. If she doesn’t email you by Jul 1st, you can get in touch with her.

          1. Avatar

            I did not get any call/ email from that senior manager HR, Healthcare advisory tea; nor did I take any initiative to contact her.

            The reason: If they do need my service they will surely contact me of their own. If they don’t, 100s of call/ email will yield nothing; after all that HR lady contacted me of her own.

            In the meantime I came to know of a kind of Consultancy firm which imparts training and pay $500/mo. The training period is usually for 4 weeks. After that the consultancy firm equip them to face interview. If the firm gets any project these candidates are engaged by the firm either with fixed salary or a %age of the project cost.

            As you can imagine this is not at all a good option. But the company people does everything for getting H1B visa for these candidates. However, you will never be an employee of any company as such. Four of my friends have already started the training from June.

            I have contacted them and they have agreed to my proposal of accepting that training program from August. That OPT stipulation also will be taken care of.

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Thanks for keeping us posted. Good luck!

  12. This is hypothetical, and forgive me if this is a stupid question, but lets say you had a summer internship with a bank, they like you and want to hire you upon graduation. Do you have to go through the interview process, superday, etc. or do you just accept the offer?


    1. I’m highly sure they don’t do it. If not then, I can’t say anything.

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      No this is not a stupid question. You will still have to go through interviews/superdays as a standard process. I think even if you were going to get an offer from banks give family connections etc, you’ll still have to go through the process.

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