The four most common banking interview questions in 2022
Investment banks' hiring season for 2022 may be drawing to a close, but 2023 isn't far away and it won't be long before banking interviews resume. Even if you think you’re ready to go into your interview now, more practice never hurt anyone.
We’ve taken a look and put together the four most common interviews questions from IB interviews this year – we can’t guarantee that they’ll be the same in 2023, but they’re your best template to prepare with.
1. “Tell me about yourself.”
Okay, so this one isn’t technically a question, but it’s still commonly asked as one in interviews. It’s a question that’s meant to put you on the spot and force you to think on your feet.
Appearing over-rehearsed for it is just as and bad as not being prepared for it at all. Because you will have to think on your feet, and often, in finance – and someone who can only deal with uncertainty by over-preparing can’t be guaranteed to think on their feet in a genuine, unknown emergency.
“Don’t be afraid of spoon-feeding interviewers,” says Victoria McLean, the CEO of CityCV. “Interviewers ask this question to give themselves time to remember which candidate you are, to assess whether you have the confidence to deliver a spoken explanation, and to give you an opportunity to sell what you have to offer, so they can consider your fit for their needs.”
2. “Walk me through your resume."
Yes, this one isn’t technically a question either. But it is your opportunity to show off your career highlights so far (even if those highlights are internships and summer analyst positions). “Experiences and skills” are the two key factors at play here – your job is to connect the dots for the person reading.
Unless you’ve taken a gap year, there’s no reason to show off how interesting you think you are. “I’ll be good at this job because I learned how to do ABC and XYZ,” is what you need here.
Victoria suggests “kicking off with an impactful identifier (who you are) and then walking backwards through your life’s narrative – most recent or most important first.
“With each step, give much more weight to concrete banking-related achievements and their associated skills, than just the scope of your responsibility or the work context (or any other waffle).”
3. “Why investment banking?”
The classic question to ask someone in a field that works 12-14 hours a day, because saying “I want to make hundreds of thousands of (insert local currency here) in my 20s” is always the right answer, but never the one you can say out loud.
“Consider the areas of IB that interest you,” Victoria says. “Be a little ambitious and paint yourself as a future expert in this area of the bank, someone respected enough to consult on it. Consider not only your rewards but also your contribution.”
You have to show employers that you won’t quit – either in the first week, year, or decade. Passion for the industry, how it aligns with your future goals and ambitions, and why you’ll wake up in the morning after three hours of sleep to do it all over again.
Victoria agrees. “You need to be authentically passionate.”
4. “Why this bank?”
“Be as specific as possible,” Victoria says. “Look through the bank’s website and Wikipedia entry - but also check for any mention in recent press such as Bloomberg for any prevailing issues. Read their annual report, be aware of their league table position and recent achievements. Be in tune with their stated values. Understand how they differentiate from other banks.”
All banks are the same, and no two banks are identical. This is your chance to show off market insight and talk about what makes your target firm stand out – especially in terms of the most recent results they’ve released.
Sprinkling in some evidence that you’ve read their culture and values literature doesn’t hurt either – especially if the bank isn’t necessarily the top of the pile for whatever section you’re interviewing for – but there’s no reason to lie, ever.
Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: Zeno.Toulon@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance.
Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)