Investment Banking Interviews

What to Expect and How to Prepare for Investment Banking Interviews

Investment Banking Interviews 101

Investment banking interviews may seem daunting at first, but if you understand the process and the questions, you’ll see that they follow a predictable series of steps.

While it is challenging to pass interviews and win internship and job offers, with the right preparation and training, you can dramatically increase your chances.

Here are the key resources you’ll need to ace your interviews and land banking jobs:

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The Investment Banking Interview Process

The overall process of completing interviews varies based on your location (e.g., North America vs. Europe) and the level of roles you’re applying to (e.g., Analyst vs. Associate).

If you’re in North America and you’re applying to Analyst roles, the investment banking interview process usually goes like this:

  1. Network months in advance and submit your application online.
  2. Complete a HireVue or other pre-recorded video interview, or possibly a phone interview with a human.
  3. Then, come into the bank’s office for a “Superday,” where you interview with many bankers at all levels (Analyst through Managing Director).

If you get an offer, you’ll hear back quickly; if not, they may not say anything, or they may drag out the decision.

At the MBA level (for Associate roles), it’s similar, but banks tend to focus more on actual on-campus recruitment at the top business schools.

If you’re applying outside of these formal processes – for example, you’re working at a Big 4 firm or valuation firm and you apply for full-time IB roles – then the process will be a series of interviews over a long period, with unpredictable timing and less reliance on HireVue and other automated assessments.

HireVue questions tend to be very generic (“What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why our bank? Why investment banking?”), so they should not require much additional preparation.

Real interviews are far more challenging because they could ask you about almost anything, and they’ll judge not only your responses, but also your body language and in-person presentation.

In Europe, and especially the U.K., this process is different because:

  1. You will have to complete online math, logic, and verbal tests, along with competency questions (written versions of “fit” questions); and
  2. Instead of a Superday, you will go to an assessment center in the final step.

At this “assessment center,” or “AC,” you will complete exercises such as group presentations, report writing, role-playing, and e-tray/in-tray (to simulate your responses to emails) in addition to the standard interviews.

ACs test your ability to perform in real life more effectively, but you’ll also have to spend additional time preparing for them.

In other regions, such as Asia and Australia, the interview process is somewhere in between these two.

We cover the details of this process in the articles on EMEA recruitment, assessment centers, and competency questions.

Common Investment Banking Interview Questions

There are four main categories of interview questions in investment banking interviews, and you must be able to answer each one confidently. They are:

  • Category 1: Telling Your Story
  • Category 2: “Fit” Questions
  • Category 3: Deals, Markets And Companies
  • Category 4: Technical Questions and Answers

Our comprehensive article linked to above describes each of these in detail, but the quick summaries are below:

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How To Tell Your Story In Interviews

There is only one question in this category, though it may be phrased in different ways:

  • “Tell me about yourself.”
  • “Walk me through your resume.”
  • “Why are you here today?”

The interviewer wants to understand how your previous academic and work experience fits into the role you are applying for, and how this role fits into your long-term career plans.

If you have time for nothing else before your interview, you must outline a 200-300 word pitch to answer this question. For tips on how to do this, see our article on how to answer the “Walk me through your resume” question.

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Investment Banking “Fit” Questions

“Fit” questions include questions about your greatest strength and greatest weakness, or further questions about your experiences and background. 

All questions that are not related to your story, deal/market/company discussions, and technical concepts are in this category.

Rather than trying to memorize hundreds of prepared answers, we recommend following the advice in our article on Investment Banking Fit Questions

In short, you’ll prepare a handful of short stories and examples that can be applied to any “fit” question you’re likely to face.

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Questions about Deals, Markets and Companies

This next category of question is aimed at determining your level of interest and experience in the markets and current events. 

For new graduates and entry-level professionals, these questions are that important, but where relevant, you should prepare for questions on How To Discuss A Recent Deal and How To Discuss Your Own Deal Experience.

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Technical Interview Questions and Answers

Investment banks now expect interview candidates to possess detailed technical knowledge of accounting, finance, valuation, and M&A and LBO modeling.

To achieve mastery of these topics, there are no shortcuts. You need to put in the work.  If you do not, you won’t have a great chance against candidates who have spent months preparing. 

We cover these key technical topics in our Investment Banking Interview Guide, and you can  also find good introductions to them in our YouTube Channel: 

  • Accounting Concepts
  • Equity Value and Enterprise Value
  • Equity Value and Enterprise Value
  • Valuation Metrics and Multiples
  • Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) Analysis
  • M&A and Merger Models
  • Leveraged Buyouts and LBO Models

We also cover dozens of Technical Interview Questions with Model Answers in our article on Investment Banking Interview Questions and Answers.

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Investment Banking Interview Preparation Courses

Investment banking has become a highly-competitive and sought-after field.

You get one shot to make a positive impression in an interview.  Banks don’t let you come back for a “second chance” if you blow your interview.

That’s why many future investment bankers invest in specialized courses and training to help them pass their interviews with flying colors. 

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Completing these courses will help you win interviews and job offers for roles that pay $150K+, and position you for success in investment banking.