Banker offers up sample interview questions, unique advice for prospective investment bankers

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These questions, aimed at MBA students eyeing full-time roles in investment banking, were delivered by an unnamed Ivy League alumnus currently working on Wall Street. Some are surprisingly routine (what do investment bankers do, really?), others are less so.

But perhaps the interesting part of the document, given to eFinancialCareers by a current student, is the advice that the banker gives at the end. How you look, talk and walk in interviews seems equally important as what you’re saying.

  • Name three ways you value a company and the benefits / drawbacks of each

  • How do you calculate free cash flow?

  • How do you calculate WACC? What do you use for the cost of debt? What do you use for the risk free rate and what is that level today?

  • Why do companies merge?

  • Why would a company go public? Go private?

  • Give me a time when you had to work long hours? What did you dislike?

  • What do investment bankers do?

  • What is the role of the Associate?

  • What does a credit rating say about a firm?

  • Tell me about a recent deal you read about?


Advice: "Poise and composure are ULTRA important in banking. It’s not always the answer you give, but how you got to the answer and the manner in which you convey the message. For example, for questions that are “stumpers” (those illogical, ridiculous questions like “how many gallons of paint will it take to paint the exterior of the Empire State Building – on a hot versus a humid day?”), it’s about how you approach the question logically, not get at the answer. They want to see the gears work AND how you respond under pressure.

An appropriate answer would NEVER be to provide a number, but discuss the considerations involved in your analysis, such as “it would depend on the state of the surface of the building, the time of year you’re painting (paint goes farther when warm, but dries faster when it’s dry or hot out), the type of equipment you’re using (because a sprayer is easy, but you would lose a lot in the mist) etc. And do it with confidence and poise, so that the questioner has to sit back and feel like they learned something.

Banking is VERY different from research, because you’re choosing people who you are grooming to advise CEOs. Anyone can learn valuation exercises, but a good banker has to have many more arrows in the quiver."

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