Let me tell you that 7 days is more than enough time to prepare. For some of the more experienced interviewees it may not be necessary to complete all the steps but if this is the first time you’re going for an investment banking interview (regardless of whether you’ve had any other interviews previously) I suggest you go through every step by step in detail.
If you work efficiently, you will only have to prepare an hour or two a day…but add this together and that means that in a week you will have done 10-14 hours of effective preparation and you will be totally ready for your investment banking interview!
DAY 1 — CONFIRM THE INTERVIEW + RESEARCH THE FIRM
A. CONFIRM THE DATE/TIME/LOCATION
These days most likely you will have been invited for the interview by phone or by email. The first thing is to make sure you have all the details and can make the date/time. Check your diary. If you can’t make it, let the firm know you can’t make it as soon as possible and come back with a set of other days/times you can make it.
TIP: Be EXTREMELY apologetic if you can’t make the suggested date/time. Banks run all-day long interview rounds and it takes a lot of time and effort on their side to make sure everyone is available (needless to say bankers tend to be very busy people!). There may also be a chance that the organization cannot reschedule and you may have to either wait for the next round in a few weeks time or be left out of the recruiting process altogether. So if you say you can’t make it make sure you really can’t make it.
B. GET AS MUCH INFORMATION ABOUT THE INTERVIEW
Find out what format the interview is going to take. It it going to be a 1-1 with someone from HR or a panel interview with people from the business, etc? Is there going to the be a quantitative/psychometric test?
All of this information can be found out through the HR department or, if the interview is being organized by the business directly, from the interviewers’ secretary. It’s absolutely fine to ask these questions, don’t be intimidated.
Best case scenario you end up with an extra set of information to help you prepare which will put you at an advantage in relation to other candidates (most people don’t dare asking!). Worst case scenario you don’t have any additional information and you can prepare with the data you have.
If you are interviewing through a recruiting agency (“headhunters”) it is their duty to obtain as much information as possible, and as a minimum should be able to give you some background on the interviewer, the organization and the role they are recruiting for. You can also ask for example if the have put through other candidates before you why they were not hired, etc. so you don’t make the same mistakes.
If you are attending a formal assessment centre with other candidates some of the information may be deliberately withheld to ensure a fair comparison, which is fair enough. But asking never hurts.
C. RESEARCH THE COMPANY
This step is key not just in finding out whether it’s the right company for you but will also be essential in the following days when we will go into a bit more detail on how to impress the interviewer and stand out.
What are the best ways of going about researching a company?
I. The corporate website The first obvious port of call is the corporate website. This will give you an overview of what the company does, what the different areas of business are, which ones are the growth areas, etc. If the company is listed, the corporate site will also contain annual reports and other regulatory filings which will contain a host of data on the company’s performance.
II. Google Do a Google search and go past the obvious few hits which will be from the firm’s website. A number of other websites will come up with articles about the bank’s recent deals, press perceptions, etc. Google also has a function that allows you to search on forums. These may prove invaluable to gain insider information about any major issue that the bank may be facing.
III. Jobseekers’ websites Sites such as Vault.com, Wetfeet.com have forums divided by firm where you can find advice from fellow jobseekers who are also interested in employment opportunities with that institution.
IV. Talk to people you know who may be working in the same firm or sector Goes without saying, they can be a very time-efficient way of gaining key insights before going for the interview!
Note: Interviewers are always impressed when a candidate is able to show some factual knowledge about the company or its plans (you would be surprised how many people walk into an interview without even performing this basic research!). They come across as more “intelligent, capable and driven” than other candidates, even though all they did was an extra few minutes search on the web!
So today, get this done:
1) Confirm to the bank that you can make the interview on the suggested day and time, if you haven’t already done so
2) In the same call/email (or in a separate one if you have already confirmed the meeting) gather as much information as possible on the interview format, attendees, purpose, etc
3) Research the company’s growth plan, financial performance, industry etc on the web and through contacts. Keep all pieces of information because you will need them for the course in the next few days.