by Brian DeChesare Comments (187)

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. “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. 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. Hi,

    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. 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. 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.

  13. My CV (an Indian Engineering Graduate of 2005, worked in Accenture-India Delivery Centre for 6+ years, completed MBA only a couple of days back from USA) was forwarded by a Partner (Assurance Services) of E & Y to several individuals in their East Central region health care advisory practice. Did my intern and part-time job in Cleveland Clinic for more than a year. The partner informed that they plan to have further discussions with me. I should expect a telephone screening interview (likely with someone from HR) and then if that goes well a screening interview with someone in the advisory practice.

    I did get a telephone interview from an HR person. Thereafter another interview over coffee for more than an hour with a senior manager, Hospital and Healthcare. The interview was quite encouraging.

    Now they have planned for a super day interview on 7 June.

    What are my chances?
    How should I prepare for the super day interview?
    What should be the waiting period after the super day interview?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      1. Your chances depend on your interview performance.
      2. E&Y maybe slightly different from the recruiting process of IBs. However, you may find the links useful. I think there’ll be quite a bit of similarities
      3. The waiting period is usually less than one week if they truly have a hiring need, and it looks like they do.

      1. I missed to inform the time elapsed between the first telephonic conversation with a Partner (Assurance Services) of E & Y and today.

        Following is the timeline lapsed: –

        First conversation with Partner (Assurance Services) : 5th January, 2013
        First email from Partner (Assurance Services)
        Phone HR interview: 5th February, 2013
        First round HR phone interview: 15th February, 2013
        Interview over coffee with Senior Manager Healthcare Advisory Service: 15th March, 2013
        Intimated date of Superday interview: 7th June, 2013.

        With these duration of incidents do you think that “if they truly have a hiring need, and it looks like they do.”?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Yes, or else they wouldn’t hold a superday interview. Good luck!

          1. One last sort of queer inquisitiveness:

            I am told that very few people are invited in a superday interview, may be about 15.

            I also came to know that if the interviewers are happy all of them may be taken in.

            How far can this be true?

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Yes I’m sure interviewers like most of the people or else they wouldn’t be invited. But sometimes its not about how much they like you, its about the headcount. So even if they like 2 people, if there’s only 1 headcount, they will still have to choose. And they may choose 1 over the other based on other criteria etc

          3. Sorry that I had to circle back.

            At any cost I need to grab the job of whose superday interview I have been communicating about.

            But it all depends on how I perform in the interview and the head count. Hence it is uncertain.

            My OPT starts June 17. So I shall have to land a job within 15-16 September.

            But again this too is not assured. For, other than E & Y, I do not have any lead.

            Therefore, my request to you is to advise me what I should do now so that chance of landing a job sooner gets enhanced.

            The superday interview will be on 7th June in Chicago and I guess latest by 10th June I shall know it’s fate.

            Please help.

          4. I did appear in the Superday Interview on 7th June. It was by and large satisfactory.

            How long should I wait for the result?

          5. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Congrats! A week!

          6. Thanks a lot for your reply. I also understand from your reply that if I don’t get response within 1 week (14th June), I should forget about it.

            Is my understanding correct?

          7. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            If you don’t get a reply within a week, you may want to follow up with HR/your interviewers.

          8. I am lot concerned; for, the Telephonic Interviewer confirmed me of her own immediately after the superday interview that the other thing remaining is location. And then I said I’m open to any location – it is not very important. Then she said by next week Wed/Thur I should hear back. My reading: nothing happened in the superday interview that can reject me.

            But have not heard yet.

            What do you think takes more time? – offering a candidate or rejecting a candidate?

          9. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            It is hard for me to say. She said she’ll get back to you by last Weds/Thurs? If she hasn’t got back to you yet, call her on Monday to follow-up. If she said she’ll get back to you next week, I’d wait. There’s no point to worry about it.

          10. I am completely devastated, for that lady said though the three interviewers were quite happy with me, they could not accommodate me due to my one year experience. I have no backup option left.

            Please help!!!

          11. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Perhaps you can email the interviewers and ask for feedback. You may also want to start looking at other firms you may be interested in working for and start cold calling/networking!

          12. I am grateful for your advice. Problem lies somewhere else. I am 30+, not yet settled in life, thrown away a decent job in India after working for 6+yrs, keeping my old parents under constant threat of uncertainty since 4th August 2011 and still nothing happened, the OPT stipulation of job getting by 15th Sept.

            I have no clue.

            However, thanks and thanks a ton for your active advice.

          13. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            The good side of this is you’re ready to make a change and you have the power to do it. I’d suggest you to read and do the exercises there. Figure out which role fits you best. And then start connecting with firms which offer such roles. You can do it.

          14. I circled back to you with the request to kindly analyse the following reply email and your reading about the possibilities. When I was told over phone last Friday that they could not accommodate me in a senior position because of my only one-year experience in healthcare, they also said that they were open to considering me for a Staff position. Upon which when I emailed the Sr HR Manager that I was willing to be considered for a Staff position too, the following was the reply: –

            “We are open to considering you for a Staff position which means you would be staffed on a variety of projects. I have been in touch with the team that manages the Staff 2 hires and hope to know more this week”

          15. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            No worries. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to help you.

            I’d then reply and say “Thanks for your kind email. I look forward to hearing from you!” I am not quite sure of the company’s structure so I can’t help you analyze what Staff means. I’d suggest you to wait for her response in a couple of days and arrange a time to speak with her on the phone and ask her what being a Staff entails (elaborate on that email), the job description (ask for details), and what the interviewing process is for this role is like.

          16. Sorry to ask you a very pertinent question.

            Was this reply email a simple consolation or did it increase potential of landing a Staff position role with fair amount of certainity?

            “We are open to considering you for a Staff position which means you would be staffed on a variety of projects. I have been in touch with the team that manages the Staff 2 hires and hope to know more this week”

          17. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            It just means that they are considering your candidacy for the role, and you may have to go through the interviewing process again (or may not). I’d wait till the HR gets back to you in a few days/next week. If she doesn’t, email her and follow up.

          18. I too planned to do the same as advised by you. By ‘Staff’ perhaps they mean NOT experienced but fresh. Now my situation is surely like “Beggars can not be choosers”.

            So, I am hanging on; after all E & Y is a damn good company to work in.

            The stubborn anxiety living in my mind is the stipulation of OPT deadline. 17 September is the date by which I have to get a job, else return back to India; with (i) huge huge loss of money (the investment that my retired father and me have been putting in for the MBA course), (ii) having no prospect in India, (iii) getting older by another year, (iv) extending no relief to my old parents and so on and so forth.

          19. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Good luck and let me know how it goes!

          20. I am a bit disappointed because of your silence. Your advice, comments inspire me.

  14. Would you advise someone when networking to visit various boutique banking firms or advisory firms with a hard copy resume, very professionally and dressed up, to hand it in to them? If so, what would you ask the receptionist?
    I just believe it would be a good idea for someone who really wants a finance job and if your approaching a firm who has a less structured recruiting process unlike GS/MS/BB.

  15. When do the investment banks generally let you know if you have been shortlisted for an interview? Most of the applications have their deadline towards mid Feb. Do they do it after the deadline? or as and when they select people. Do they let you know in the online portal if you have been rejected?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      They usually let you know after the deadline. Perhaps within a month. Yes, most banks let you know if you’ve been rejected via email/online system.

      1. How much time to they give you before they call you for an interview over the phone/in person? Do they pay for travel and stay if you have to fly to another city for an interview?

        Is it impossible to get into IB if you are not from a target school? I study quant finance at Stony Brook under one of the best math departments in the country. I am looking for the summer analyst position at major IBs. What are my chances of getting into one? I have graduated top of my class in engineering during my undergrad and am a CFA level II candidate. I also have prior experience in financial accounting, equity research and financial modelling.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          It depends on the firm. Its usually less than a few weeks from the deadline. Yes they do.

          No, it is not impossible:

          If you have had work experience in ER, you have a shot. I think your experience and CFA qualifications may make you a more suitable candidate for ER roles (versus IB since you haven’t had deal experience)

          1. for a summer analyst position is work experience necessary? can you please tell me what else i can do to increase my chances of getting through? i am an international student. does that mean getting an offer is more difficult?

  16. I have a final round interview coming up with the group head for an experienced associate position. Any suggestions on how to prepare for this interview?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Congratulations! I would highlight some deals that you are very comfortable with discussing, and focus on why you want to transition and work for that bank in particular. You need to demonstrate solid modeling skills, business acumen, strong work ethic, and ability to fit in with the firm.

  17. Avatar
    Almost There

    Dear Brian,

    I just finished a phone interview with a relatively small investment firm. The interviewer asked me if I had any financial modeling skills and I told him the truth: none whatsoever. This didn’t seem to deter him completely, as he asked me to send him a presentation. The problem is that other than the fact I will be sending a presentation, I have no idea what to base it on or where to even begin. Do you have any suggestions on what a M&A recruiter would like to see when making such a request? He didn’t give much info on the matter, except for it to highlight my analytical skills in one way or another…

    Please get back to me at your earliest convenience. Your help is always appreciated.

    Almost There

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Ideally you want to demonstrate your qualitative (communication), presentation, as well as analytical skills. I’d make sure your presentation is clear, concise, and is a great sales presentation illustrating your rationale as well as what you are trying to achieve from the presentation. It would be better if your presentation has charts (such as pie charts), tables, etc – this demonstrates your analytical ability and ability to use chart/graphs to support your points.

  18. Is it possible for an interviewer to forget about you? I was notified by HR at a BB 3 weeks ago that I would be contacted by a representative from the Private Bank for a phone interview that week. I was never contacted, and 1-1.5 weeks later I followed up with HR via email asking about when I should expect to be contacted. It has been a week since my follow-up, and I have heard nothing, but friends of mine already had their Superdays for different locations and divisions last week and this week, while I have yet to have my phone interview…Today I FW my follow-up and finally got through via phone to leave the HR person a message…in all honesty, does it seem like the bank(or the analyst who was supposed to conduct my phone interview) simply forgot about me?? What should I do?

    1. Yes, banks are highly disorganized and it happens sometimes. There’s no rationale explanation – maybe just follow-up more aggressively and call back until you can reach a live person.

  19. Hi M&I,

    I recently had a family friend put me in touch with an MD at a MM bank. We had a chance to talk live for about an hour about their firm, recruiting, and IB in general. Afterwards she forwarded my résumé to their HR. Are my chances of getting in for 1st rounds any better or will I be considered in the same pool as people who applied online? Thanks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      If your chat went well, I think your chance of getting into the first round is higher than other candidates who only applied online.

  20. I transferred from a community college graduated in December. How should I address this during an interview? Most interviewers ask whether I graduated early or whether I graduated late. Should I just be up front and tell them I transferred from a community college? I am actually really proud of transferring from a community college to a well respected university, but I read somewhere that this might hurt my chances.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Why would it hurt your chances?

  21. What about senior level investment banking professionals who want to change firms? What kind of questions would they expect if they were to hunt for jobs at other banking firms?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I believe why the move would be an important question. They’d probably focus a lot more on your previous clients and ability to generate revenue

  22. If i transferred to a target from a community college, should i include the cc on my resume as well?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Depends on whether you have much to say on your resume or not. No you don’t need to include that on your resume

  23. Brian,

    I am thinking about getting my Masters in the US next year. However, it would not make much sense to spend 50K for a program and have no shot at getting a FT offer as I am not a US citizen and need a visa sponsorship. Do you have an idea if banks even give out offers to international students these days? I even remember hearing about banks taking away already made FT offers after the financial crisis hit the US/world. Does it even make sense to go to school as an international student seeking a FT position in the US these days?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes they do but it is relatively rare.

      Put your mind into it – Are you committed to making “working in IB in US” happen? If so, just do it.

      Apply for a Masters first and see.

  24. Your offer rate seems scarily, even impossibly low. Your highest possible offer rate of 3 offers per 500 resumes (.6%), would mean that for a bulge bracket giving out 200 internships, they would need over 30,000 applications. Maybe I’m just naive, but that’s an insanely high number!

    1. Actually, bank officials have mentioned that they often receive 100,000+ applications per year, so it is not that unreasonable. There was a quote from someone high up at Barclays awhile back mentioning that they receive 100K+ per year and only give out around 1,000 offers.

      Obviously those are not all for one geography or for front-office IB necessarily, but order of magnitude wise the numbers foot.

      Part of the reason for this low rate is that many people simply have NO chance whatsoever – similar to people with 2.0 GPAs applying to Harvard.

  25. Instead of going to college, I am thinking about going into the Army to learn because it is free and I can’t afford to go to college. What is the view of an Army based education to recruiters? Would it be a wise choice?

  26. Hi, I am about to enter my senior year of high school. I love business and banking and becoming a banker is a huge dream of mine. Going into my last year of high school, what should be my first step?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      The first and most important thing is to get into a target university where banks recruit. This will make things a lot easier for you…

  27. Hey,

    I have 3.51, but I have three C’s in core classes. I was wondering if all the banks and boutiques check for transcripts. Also, wondering when transcripts are being checked, are individual grades being checked or is it just a verification of overall GPA? This is for Summer Analyst positions.


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes, most check for transcripts. Core meaning finance and accounting classes?
      Verification of overall GPA though they may check your individual grades too but I think its not too likely.

      1. Thanks for the response! I have a C+ in a principles of accounting class which I screwed by bombing the final. I also have a C in intermediate accounting and international finance because I just put too much on my plate with extra-curricular activities that semester. I was wondering what are the odds of having an offer rescinded because they look at my transcripts and see those grades. At no point did I ever lie.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          I don’t think they will rescind your offer unless you lied. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. What else can you do at this point?

  28. Hi

    I am a senior student graduating in the summer term, and I recently had an interview with a local firm for a market research position.
    Despite I had one final the day before and two finals today, I had to do the interview yesterday, because i did not want to risk the chance of the job being taken by someone else before me.

    Although they asked when would be ideal for me to start, they also asked me if may 15th is good to start.

    I said id be willing to start working in may and take the one summer course with pass or fail option.

    The problem is that i think i failed one of the two finals that i had today. Luckily, i was taking that course with a Pass or Fail option so it wouldnt bring my GPA down but now it seems like that i wouldnt be able to start in mid May, but rather around mid~late June.

    What would be the best way to let them know about this change in my situation?
    I was thinking of just being totally honest and tell them everything and say somethign like “as market research positions are very hard to find and I really want it, I’d decided to have the interview as early as possible to boost my chance and that happened to be with three final exams in three days, and i did not have enough time to prepare for one course with Pass/Fail option”

    Or should i just completely hide this and tell them my situation changed and i can only start in June..?

    this was very long..
    thank you very much in advance

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You can just tell them that you can only start in June given personal reasons. If they ask, you can tell them the truth – you couldn’t start in mid May and could only start in June because XX [no need to disclose too much]

  29. what does it mean when they tell you that they were really impressed by your interview but a decision about offering you the position has been put on hold? What are the chances of getting an offer?

    1. It means they have someone else they liked more and are waiting to hear back from him/her. All you can do is continue to express your interest and/or come back and say that you have another offer you need to decide on quickly, so you must hear from them soon.

      1. How soon is too soon for a follow up? It will be one week tomorrow since I heard that I have been on hold. Also, any suggestions as to what to say in the email?

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Follow up tomorrow!

          Just say you want to follow up and are inquiring about the status of your application. Thank them for their time

      2. Oh, one more thing. I dont know if you know, but what are the success rates at getting an actual offer if you are on hold?

  30. Hi Nicole,
    Is it ok to email HR asking about the division of the person you are interviewing with (an MD)? Or is it better to ask him directly?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Ask the MD directly because you always want to speak with the person who has the hiring power, rather than going through a “middle man”, unless the MD refers you to talk to someone else in the organization

      1. Hi Nicole,
        So can I email some thing like
        “Hi, Mr….
        I would love to know what division of …. you are in?”
        I feel like that sounds little bit awkward.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          No, you should have done your research and know which division that person you are contacting is in. Once you’ve done your research, you should then ask him for a job.

          1. Hi Nicole,
            I am sorry for the confusion. I am having an interview next week, and its with a MD of a BB. I searched online and everything but nothing came up as of his division. I emailed him about how I should prepare and what I should expect but he didn’t reply.
            Do you think it is okay to get this information from an HR?

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Yes you can try to email HR and see if they have any suggestions for you. I’d also try to speak to others in the industry to see if they have any suggestions

  31. Hi,
    Is CUNY Baruch a good college for going to investment bank?
    I heard really good things but I was worried because the campus is kind of bad.

    1. Some people from there do go into banking but it’s not really a target school; NYU or Columbia are better bets (though obviously far more expensive)

  32. Is there any use in emailing the interviewer references after a first round interview? I have good contacts from my last summer in equity research.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think so, unless they ask for it

  33. I had my first round interview a week ago and have just been invited to a second round. After my first round I dropped a thank you note to the analysts who interviewed me. Does it make sense to drop them another note to thank them for making a recommendation to put me into the second round? I don’t want to make them feel as if I’m sucking up to them. Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Nah one thank you note is fine.

  34. How many technical questions might I get in my first round interview? I received an email on Tuesday saying I have an interview with a BB firm on Friday. Love the date, I have two tests and a project due then. I feel like I’m moderately prepared for some fit but don’t have much time to prepare but feel like I might need to study up on some technicals. I know its mostly fit but I am freaking out right now. I honestly didn’t even think I was going to get this, apparently networking in September can lead to something in December at the time you don’t want to be interviewing, go figure.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      First round shouldn’t be too technical though a few of those questions might pop up
      Relax. Worrying doesn’t help. I think knowing how to pitch yourself, craft your story and answer why that division in the BB are the most important!

  35. Is it easier to break into ECM than IBD? Are brain-teasers commonly used in trading interviews common in ECM? Thanks.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      ECM is a bit more qualitative but I wouldn’t say ECM is easier to get into than IBD. No. More so in trading

  36. Hi, Is the competition the same for various position in the front office within a bank? For example: IBD, IMD, S & T? Isn’t the investment banking position the most competitive?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not necessarily. Depends on supply & demand (positions available) and your skills

      1. Is IBD always the most competitive in terms how many people apply and how got selected?
        Thank you

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          You can say so but S&T and ER and other front office roles in top firms can also be very competitive. It depends on your strengths really

  37. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for all of your great work with this site. Many of these recruiting and networking tips have worked very well for me in landing interviews during this recruiting season.

    Anyway, I just had an on campus interview with a boutique bank literally a few hours ago and now find myself in a sort of precarious position. I thought the interview went well, especially because the more senior interviewer and I shared a few things in common which led to half the interview being carried out rather casually, which can only be a good sign I am thinking. The younger interviewer offered me his business card towards the end of the interview, but the more senior banker did not. When wrapping up the interview, I forgot to ask for his business card. Now I cannot remember his name and am kicking myself because of it. I want to follow up with him and thank him for his time but don’t know what to do. Would it be appropriate to send a thank you email to the other banker and then in it ask for his information? Or will this just come off as weird/unprofessional? The other option is seeing if I can get his name by contacting my career services office who most likely keep on record all the interviewers, but I would have to check.

    Anyway, I was hoping to get your opinion on this and insights as to whether or not it’s as big a deal as I’m making it, and how I should best proceed. I know that in another article you said that the thank you note is not overly critical since decisions will likely already have been made, but I still think they’re important especially in a situation like this where it would be useful to continue the rapport we built up in the interview and thank him for his time.

    Thanks a lot in advance.

    1. I wouldn’t even bother because thank you notes don’t really matter. Thank the junior one if you want but don’t bother asking for the senior banker’s contact info.

  38. Hi,
    You mentioned what not to say but what if an interviewer asks about what I dont like about banking.

    Thank you

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Ha! I have never had this question raised to me before. I’d probably say something along the lines of – I am the kind of person that gets things done and I am not usually too keen on/involved in politics. I understand there’s politics everywhere, and probably quite a bit in banking given bureaucratic environment. My focus is to work well w people and get things done

  39. Hi,

    I was selected as a sole recipient of a prestigious scholarship given to one person each year at my school, and the person who graduated a year ago with the same scholarship is now in Lev Fin at a top BB. I’ve talked to him about the scholarship and my interest in investment banking, and I have some questions:

    1. At what point should I approach him about my interest in working with his specific firm and how should I go about it?

    2. Would he be able to help me get an interview in a different group specializing in M&A?

    3. Is Lev Fin more competitive to break into than M&A and what do they look for differently? If it depends on the bank, should I just apply generally or do I need to state which sector I’d like to go into during the interview process?

    Sorry for all the questions, but you’re answers seem helpful to everyone else above so I thought I’d ask. Thanks!

    1. 1. Talk to him now but only make the direct request right before recruiting begins.

      2. Probably couldn’t help much unless he knows people there.


  40. hi, i am currently having IT degree and CIMA part qualification. i was called for the final interview in an insurance company with managing directors. my preferred position was ‘Management trainee – Finance’ how can i differentiate myself from other candidates, so that increasing the chances of being hired? and what MDs might expect at the final interview?

    please assist me in these issues.

    1. I really don’t know much about insurance there so can’t help you, but make sure you emphasize how you can save them money or time or help them earn more money – most people fail to do any of those.

  41. Hey Brian,

    I am currently going to a community college however I expect that I will transfer to UC Berkeley next year, by the time I graduate UCB I believe my GPA will be around a 3.9. Will banks care that I went to a community college for a year, and how negative will they view that?

    1. It’s not that bad as long as you get the UC Berkeley name on your resume

      1. What about UCLA? And their business economics program?

        1. Also a good choice

          1. Brian,

            If I’m unable to get into UC Berkeley or UCLA, for econ or business economics respectively, would it be better to go to UCSD for Management Science or go for like a history major at UCLA? And let’s say I go to UCSB?

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            I don’t think UCSD is a target school. Not sure about UCLA but I’d imagine so banks recruit there. History major – not sure if that’s relevant to banking but you can always spin a story. Your call.

          3. Hey Thanks Nicole,

            Since UCLA isn’t a target school, would it matter if I went to let’s say UCSB instead. I hear they have a good business economics program. I probably will also make into USC, but it’s not really my top choice. However, would it be a good school?

          4. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            Honestly, I don’t know. I’d have thought UCLA (I thought I implied that in my previous comment?) is a better choice vs UCSB? I think some banks recruit at UCLA. but I am not sure. USC is a decent school and I think some boutiques/financial firms on the West Coast recruit there. I’d suggest you to contact the career centers of those schools and ask them. They can point you to the right direction!

  42. Hi,

    I am currently enrolled in an undergraduate commerce program at a fairly prestigious university (definitely a target school). Unfortunately however I did not apply myself quite as much as I should have in my first several years and my GPA shows the effects of it (it’s approximately 3.0/4.0).

    My question is two parts: first, is it better to have average/unremarkable grades from a top tier school or outstanding grades from an unheard of school? And second, is having strong grades in the final two years of a four year program enough to overcome an average overall GPA?

    Thanks for your time, M&I is an amazing site. So informative.

    1. Better to have average grades from top school, easily. Strong grades later helps a little but won’t save you if overall average is low.

  43. I just had a first round interview with a BB. I am transitioning from a year out of school spent in strategic marketing consulting in China (in a very small company but with extremely high profile work), with some internships (at two different prestigious BBs, but not in IBanking: Marketing and PWM) in college, definitely a 2nd-tier school (a top public engineering university, but I was a non-engineering major). I was told the second round of interviews will be in another week.

    What’s the best way for me to spend this week? My Excel skills are terrible (Consultant! Hello?), so should I learn more Excel? Should I crash-course financial models like crazy over the next week?

    I want to crush the second interview as I did the first (all of the questions were about fit, and both MDs were verbally impressed by my work experience and outright stated, “I have no worries at all that you’ll be able to fit in with us.”) If it makes any difference, this position is in Client Strategy.

    1. Replied to your email earlier but focus on the Fundamentals part of the modeling course and make sure you review all the interview questions there, ignore Excel until you’re about to start working

  44. Hi Brian,

    I had my interview this week. It was scheduled to be 30mins. After the 30mins, the interviewer asked if I would like to schedule another 15mins to talk with him so he could make the recommendation and of course I did. Is that a good sign?

  45. Hi Brian,

    I am having a phone screen interview next week. I get the contact information of the person I will be interviewing with. Should I contact him in advance? or what should I do to utilize this resource to add credit to my interview?


    1. No do not contact him in advance, maybe see if you know anyone else at the firm and speak to them in advance then bring their names up in the real interview

  46. Hello,
    I have recently passed my superday interview (with Associate and VPs) and now I am going to do an interview with 2 Directors. The day after, I am also going to meet the head of HR. Does this mean that I passed or not yet?
    Thank you!!

    1. You advanced to the next stage but you don’t have an offer until they give you one officially

  47. Hello,

    Recently, I had interview with Morgan Stanley PWM Hong Kong. I did all three rounds of phone interviews in a week or two. But now three weeks have passed and I still haven’t heard from them yet. Is it a general hiring practice for them that no reply more than 2 weeks means a no? Or their hiring process takes more than three weeks? Or do you think I should contact the HR office to ask? Thank you so much for your help.


    1. Usually that means it’s a “no” or that you’re on the wait-list. Contact HR to ask.

    2. Hi Scarlett

      Could yo share your interview experience? I am gonna interview with them soon. Thanks.

  48. Avatar
    Bob Johnson

    Hey Brian,

    Purchased your guide. It’s been very helpful and I really appreciate it.

    I was hoping I could ask for your opinion on something that wasn’t exactly covered in the guide. What if you were faced with a question such as “If you received a grant of $50,000, how would you spend it?”

    Would it be wise to answer this question as an investment question? Or do you think it’s more behavioral? What would you say is a good way to go about this question?



    1. This is actually similar to question #6 on pg. 54 about what to do with $1 million if you can’t use it for business or investing. Tie it back to your interests or hobbies – volunteer or nonprofit work is perfect if you’ve done it, but otherwise say that you would use it to explore something related to one of your interests and conduct a study or set up a new program or organization or something like that.

      Also for future reference if you’ve signed up for the programs here you’ll get a faster response if you email us via the BIWS contact form or leave a comment on that site – I try to answer what I can here, but customers always have top priority and that makes it easier to tell that you’ve signed up for a course we offer.

  49. Avatar
    John Salmons

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the article. I have a question concerning one of the main questions banks will ask you during their interviews.

    What would be a good way to approach the question “Why do you want to work at *insert bank name here*?

    Would it be wise to use some statistics about the firm, use some personal experiences (i.e. visited the firm, met great people), or a combo of both?

    Would really appreciate your insight. Thanks!

    1. Talk about the people you met… statistics are silly to use for that type of question.

      1. Avatar
        King of BS !!

        Hi Nicole,

        I’m reading this article as you had suggested. How would you answer this question “why do you want to work at THIS bank” if you have not networked or even met with anyone from that bank? Does this mean that I have no chance of clearing the interview??

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          No, you will just have to do background research on the bank – what kind of deals has the bank been involved in? How is this bank different in terms of their strategies, etc versus other banks? You may want to read publications like WSJ, FT, Dealbook, Barrons for news on the firm. You’ll have a vague idea at the very least

  50. Hello,

    On average, how many people will make it to first round interviews from target schools?

    For example, if 100 people people applied to JPM for IBD from Columbia University, how many will make it to at least first rounds? I’m assuming the number is higher than on average since the banks actively recruit there.

    Also, is it slightly “easier” for girls to make it to first rounds relative to guys (since fewer girls are applying relative to guys)?

    1. ” In general, we will receive 500-1000 investment banking resumes for 30-50 spots, then give Superday interviews to 10 of those 30-50.” More than 100 people from Columbia will apply, but usually they interview 20-30 for the first round… so maybe 10-20% will get first round interviews. Girls have more of an advantage in interviews themselves, on a resume everyone looks the same.

  51. Hi Brian,

    I have a question about references. Do bankers actually call up references after interviewing? (HR in the earlier interview rounds and bankers in later rounds)

    1. Usually they only check during the background check process after you have an offer

      1. Thanks?also, do you think it’s helpful to have informational interview with HR person? what would I ask during an info interview with them…


        1. It helps but overall HR is not quite as helpful as bankers themselves.

  52. I am a French business student and trying to apply for the Summer intern IBD in London. Majority of the banks’ online application deadline are end of January. SO do you think when will be best time for submitting the online application and when will the first round interview kick off?

    1. They review everything at the same time, so the time when you submit your application doesn’t matter much. First round interviews usually start 1-2 weeks after the submission deadline.

  53. Just a quick question? How do I make sure I get on the short list of people being interviewed at our school. I started networking a while ago, and was able to set up a few informational interviews and get my name out there. However, my efforts have not been as successful as I had hoped. I am at a target where there are tons of kids who have great GPAs and fancy-sounding, albeit laughable, “extra-curricular” activities on their respective resumes. History shows that I can do well during an interview, I just need the interview. Any suggestions?

    Also, I purchased the interview guide and the networking guide. Good stuff for anyone interested.

    1. It’s a matter of asking bankers directly as possible for an interview at their firm… if you look at some of the case studies on the site (example: you’ll get a sense of the numbers and what you have to do to get noticed. The bottom-line is that you need to follow up and ask people repeatedly – otherwise they will forget, “not have time” and so on.

  54. Hi.
    I was wondering as to who the person is who skims the resumes and selects the people for the 1st round interview. Is it the analyst or associate? I ask this because we need to know who to network with i.e there is not too much point networking with an analyst if its the associate who picks the interviewees for the 1st round.

    1. Usually the analyst for analyst-level resumes

  55. I have just gone through the superday interview of Barclays Capital, Hong Kong. It was specially designed for all the Global Markets candidates(20 in total). Two days have passed and I still didn’t hear from Barcap, neither offer nor declining letter. I heard some of the candidates who apply for sales have received phone calls from Barcap sales department right after the interview, saying that they have got the offer. I am worried about my situation and I guess maybe it is because I apply for trading and different departments have different approaches. Is it possible? Or does it mean that I have been put on the declining list…

    1. It could be anything – I would just call them and check ASAP.

      1. Thanks for your suggestion. Now I have got the offer from Barcap, trading department, summer intern (this coming summer), Hong Kong. What do you think the trading of Barcap in Asia? And do you know whether the retention rate of intern in Barcap is high or low? Thanks!

        1. I don’t know much about Barcap in Asia but I would definitely take it unless you have an offer at GS/MS lined up.

  56. hi … im now thinking to have a try for IBD in my internship. so i will just have to make sure that the stuff i must know are the following: some knowlegde on modeling in M&A, business valuation, some knowledge on balance sheet, some knowledge on derivatives (but not knowing the detail like option pricing using black schole equations) . Am i correct with the stuff i said above ?? what else shud i know ??? thank you

    1. You don’t need to know anything about derivatives other than options and TSM maybe. See all the articles here on interviews and the interview guide… already wrote about this topic many times.

  57. Hi im from UK too nd i wonder that if the selection process in the USA is different from in UK.

    i am a first year biochemistry student in Uni and i want to do summer interns in my second year in Uni. before i kept biotech jobs as my future career path in mind, however recently im quite passionate about banking. biochemistry isnt a very math based course although it does require analytical and some numeracy skills like all sciences do. so im currently self learning some further maths such as engineering maths. my question is that if im applying for positions outside of quant how much maths should i know??

    my second question is that since i dont have finance background, how much knowledge on finance should i know especially when dealing with interviews? i look up what investment banks do on wiki and tried to learn some concepts and technical terms in finance but found out that this isnt a very specific way to learn. could u advise me on what to read to prepare for interviews etc ??

    im sorry to bother you for these long questions but im lookin forward to ur replies. thanks….

    1. You don’t need to know much math… the math used in finance is very simple.

      The interview guide on this site is good preparation for interviews, also read the Financial Times or WSJ each week to start picking up the lingo and learning more about the industry. You don’t need to know everything but the basics are essential for interviews.

      1. oh rite…thank you very much. i before thought when it comes to investment banking all people do are like building complex models using Matlab and solving complex calculus that must be solved by using computers. so now i get it those things are only for quant am i correct ?? thx again

        1. Uh you never do anything “complex” it’s just addition/subtraction and sometimes multiplication if you get really fancy.

      2. hi.. i read that guide again. however for those technical questions like valuation and modelling or accounting, considering im from somewhere totally outside of finance nd never took finance lessons will i also be asked on them as well ? or is it just asking me my thoughts on some financial news and movement?

        1. You will still get those questions, because if you don’t know that stuff they take it as a sign that you’re not that interested in the field… so you need to know your stuff regardless of your background.

  58. every graduate hire position referer to as an analyst position or does this vary from department to department (e.g. sales, trading, investment research, etc, etc.. see this article on investment banking to see what I mean.


  59. Hello – UK reader – question.. a superday interview, the same as an assessment day (otherwise known as an assessment centre, or USA version assessment center!)?

  60. Hello – UK reader – 2 questions.. a superday interview, the same as an assessment day (otherwise known as an assessment centre, or USA version assessment center!)? every graduate hire position referer to as an analyst position or does this vary from department to department (e.g. sales, trading, investment research, etc, etc.. see this article on investment banking to see what I mean.


    1. 1) Yes.

      2) Varies from department to department. Sometimes it’s called Associate (Equity Research for example), sometimes Analyst.

  61. Just went through this process and received an offer. Wow totally didn’t realize that this was going on in the background. Sounds very much like what our fraternity does during rush and giving bids to the new pledges. I DEFINITELY don’t want to hear what the MDs had to say about me then haha

    1. Bobby: it’s definitely like a frat rush and nearly as random as well. Lots of talking crap about people, people trying to push for those they like, etc. Congrats on getting an offer!

  62. Great post about the intricacies of recruiting.

    1. Thanks Justin, glad you found it useful.

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