The 90 most-important seconds of a banking interview

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If MBAs excel at one thing in particular, it’s preparing for an interview. Top business schools work tirelessly to mold their students into interview machines. MBAs memorize case studies, practice writing thank you notes and even fill out worksheets with targeted anecdotes to use at cocktail parties. Needless to say, it’s more science than art.

While each school provides slightly tailored interview advice, they all begin with one overarching concept: telling your story. Banks want to know how your got here, why you want to work for them and, perhaps most important, why your experience fits the bill. Using a few different materials from top U.S. business schools, here’s how to create a replicable story, in a rather scientific fashion that could only be developed by business schools.

  • Prepare a long version and a short version, with the former being used for interviews and the latter for networking activities. The long version should be 3 minutes in duration; the short 90 seconds.
  • Interviewers won’t ask for “your story,” but they’ll likely give you other verbal cues such as: “tell me a little about yourself,” “take me through your resume,” and “tell me what brings you here today.”
  • Don’t touch on anything personal. They’re asking for your professional story.
  • Start with your undergraduate experience – nothing earlier. This should only take up 5-10% of your answer.
  • Spend the bulk of your talk (roughly 75%) discussing your professional experience, walking the interviewer through each job, including at least one skill learned at each position that highlights experience that’s applicable to the job at hand. It’s helpful to write down three or four key skills needed for the job to help craft targeted anecdotes. Adapt these for each specific interview.
  • Transition from one job to another with the reason that you left. Your motivation for leaving should always revolve around bettering yourself and taking advantage of career opportunities.
  • With the final 15% of your self-allotted time, discuss your interest in the field, the company and the job itself. Position the role as the logical next step in the career progression you just laid out.
  • Practice your story over and over again. Say it out loud until you perfect doing it naturally.


That's at least how recent MBAs do it. Or you can just wing it.


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