Becoming an associate requires you to not only know how to build financial models but to have an understanding of how the bank relates to things like risk and the various businesses within the bank.
Here's a sampling of questions you might have to answer during your interview.
1. Provide examples that demonstrate your managerial skills?
You might discuss the experience you've had running a team of peers, supporting the bank's deals. Talk about leading the team in conducting research on deal background and financials on multiple deals over the past year.
2. Discuss your experience working with clients.
Associates will need to have solid client service skills. Here, be able to demonstrate your ability to work with bankers, lawyers, company managers and executives. Be sure to emphasize that your work with clients has included both marketing and banking work. You should also respond by asking for clarification on the role client service will play in your job. For example, would the amount of client interaction increase? Would the client facing be the same or more intense?
3. It's ten minutes before a big client pitch and you notice a mistake in the pitch book. What do you do?
This one's designed to see how you'd handle a pressure situation. There's no right answer, says Joanna Moody, North American Recruiting Manager at JPMorgan. An interviewer is trying to gauge your thought process and your ability to manage unpredictable situations effectively.
4. Why did you get into investment banking?
Besides wanting to make your first million, it's important to demonstrate a passion for the job. Be sure to provide examples where you've been successful as an associate. Show that you've done the analysis on deals, but also understand the big picture. This is the time to go well beyond your B-school knowledge. It's about ideas. Talk about how you'd help a client raise cash in on capital markets or advise in a merger or an acquisition. Always provide real-life examples to show off the experience and personality traits that an investment bank and interviewer are looking for.
5. Describe your experience with risk and how you made decisions that involved risk.
As an investment banker, you'll inevitably face tough decisions, notes Jeff Leader, partner at Global Search Partners. How you handle yourself in situations involving risk - to the bank's money and clients' success - is critical. Your answer should show that you possess sufficient analytical skills. This is best achieved by pointing to examples of situations in which you managed risk in a deal. Enumerate any assumptions made during your analysis on a transaction.
You can stand out by asking the interviewer how the bank approaches risk as it relates to your role. Ask whether specific valuation models are used as templates to evaluate deals, for example Be sure to ask about risk parameters, and who's responsible for determining them and how they're applied to specific deals, says Brian Berger, senior vice president at Glocap Search.
6. What kind of industry knowledge do you have?
Hopefully, your work as an analyst afforded you with an opportunity to work in multiple industries. Interviewers want to know that you've gained some industry expertise. This way, whether the bank puts you on a healthcare or retail transaction, you'll be prepared.
7. Tell me about the kind of deals that you have worked on?
Besides wanting to know if you've focused on equity or credit deals, the interviewer is gauging whether you'll work well on a team. Be sure to highlight a specific deal that you've worked on, and describe the role you played. Go into detail as to how tasks were divided, i.e. did one person handle spreadsheets, with another in charge of presentation books? Also highlight whether you had direct interaction with clients or other parties, like lawyers.
8. What do you know about our firm and it's culture? What about our firm and culture appeals to you?
An interviewer is almost certain to ask you about the bank. Don't just visit the bank's website. Talk to people, ideally someone you know who works there. Ask around and try to get a feel for the culture and what people on Wall Street believe to be the strongest selling points of the bank you're interviewing with.
9.What unique attributes do you bring to a team? Can you provide examples?
Whether you're in sales/trading, research, or corporate finance, an interviewer is looking for skills that will help the bank be successful by selling products and winning new business.
Whether you possess industry expertise, leadership skills, or the ability to build relationships that help source deals for the bank, this is your opportunity to stand out. Well in advance of the interview, think about the unique value proposition you can provide to an investment bank. Whether you're an automotive expert or you possess a strong rolodex, an interviewer wants to determine what you'll bring to the bank if you come on board.
10. What kind of experience do you have managing others?
Finally, investment banks are looking for leaders. They'll want to determine if you're managing director or vice president material. The road begins with being able to lead a team of other junior bankers successfully. Cite examples in which you took the lead on a deal, or coached an analyst through the development of a pitch book or financial model late into the night.