Investment Bank Pros: Time To Hit the Interview Circuit?

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Some are expecting pay to rise 4 percent this year, and Wall Street staffers are expecting higher bonuses. Meanwhile, banks are investing in strong-suit divisions. Citi has accelerated spending in securities trading and investment banking, while JPMorgan wants to double the size of its investment bank in Asia and has expanded its commodities-trading unit.

So maybe it's time to think about interviewing again while banks are willing to splurge. Here's a few tips.

Show What You've Done

Senior-level professionals responsible for originating and executing deals need to show a record of revenue generation, who their relationships are with, and how they brought in business. "Be prepared to talk about the deal that best exemplifies what you're all about," says Richard G. Lipstein of Boyden Executive Search in New York.

Junior people - from executive associate to vice president - will need to demonstrate how they've taken initiative in the past and that they've held positions of increasing responsibility. Keep in mind that the person interviewing you is trying to picture you as a managing director in a few years' time.

Personality Counts

Many recruiters say who you are and how you tell your story will weigh heaviest for or against you as a candidate. "If someone is a jerk it doesn't matter what kind of revenue they can generate," says Lipstein. So focus particular attention on questions designed to show how you will fit into the organization, such as "What do you like and dislike most about the shop you're working for now?" Take care not to harshly criticize your boss or company processes. These approaches can easily backfire - your interviewer may employ similar people and approaches.

Be ready for tried-and-true questions like, "List your biggest weaknesses." You want to make them sound like strengths - without sounding like a braggart. Show you're self-aware and able to learn from your weaknesses, without being defensive about them.

And be prepared for questions about commitment. The bank wants to know whether you're going to pounce on the first job offer that comes your way. Present yourself as a long-term thinker, and discuss principles you wholeheartedly believe in. This way, when you speak you'll sound (and will be) sincere.

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