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Questions that will convert a banking interview into a job offer

Are you going for a banking interview? Do you intend to achieve a job offer as a result? If so, you'll need to ask some questions of your own when the interview comes to an end. Interviewers frown upon unprepared candidates who don't display inquisitiveness about the role.

However, asking questions at the end of an interview isn't always easy. If you're too probing, you will seem aggressive. If you're too banal, you will seem bland.

This is what we suggest:

Ask questions that give your interviewer an opportunity to talk about themselves

People in banking love talking about themselves. For your first question, it's therefore a good idea to get your interviewer on your side by giving them a chance to discuss their job. If you're interviewing for an M&A role, for example, you could say, "I have seen that your firm/team has advised on n deal XYZ, could you tell me a bit more about that deal and its dynamics?"

This applies equally if you're interviewing for a role in risk, finance, or regulation. Find out about the issues the firm's facing, and ask your interviewer about the work that he or she specifically has been doing in relation to them.

In all cases, you need to keep your questions positive: avoid framing queries in a negative way.  The trick is to ask positive questions that can't be answered with a simple 'yes' or 'no.' (Eg. Don't say, "I know you've had some problems with regulators - is that going to be an issue if I join this team?, do say, "How has the intervention of the regulator changed the way the team works. Can you run me though the ways it's made your role more interesting?").

If you can't think of anything informed to ask about the role you're interviewing for, you can always ask something open-ended about what it involves. The most standard version of this is something like, "What's a typical day like for an analyst."

Ask questions that give your interviewer a chance to discuss strategy

You should also ask positively-framed questions about the strategy and future of the business. You need to show that you've done your homework - don't ask obvious questions that can be resolved after two minutes on the company website.

For example, you might say: "I saw in the news that you've gained market share in X division. What's your strategy to build upon that growth? What's your competitive advantage?"

The more senior the position you're going for, the more detailed the strategy-related questions you will need to ask. Again, ensure you frame any questions positively. Negative questions about strategy will do more harm than good. Do not put your interviewer in a defensive position.

If you're going into a senior role, you need to show that you understand the issues and can help resolve them in a positive way. By asking positively framed questions about a particular firm and a particular business, he says that you can help demonstrate why you want to work for that firm instead of others.

Ask questions about the long-term future of the role. 

You can use the questions to signal that you plan to stick around. Ask things like, "If I move into this role, what would success look like in 12 months' time? How might I expect my position in the company to evolve? What do you see as the biggest challenges for the business over the next two years?"  

Ask who they really want to hire

It can help to ask what sort of qualities the business really wants in a new recruit, Hatz says. You can phrase this as,"What's the key strength you like to see a candidate bring to the role." Or, "What would it take to convert this internship into a full time job?"

Ask your interviewer careful questions about the firm

These can be difficult questions to ask, so use judgement. - If you've built a rapport with the interviewer, they're not acceptable. For example, you might want to ask the interviewer what their experience of the firm is, or how it varies from a larger bank they worked for previously. More general questions in this genre include: "What have you learned since you started doing this job which you wish you knew at the start?", "What makes you successful at this firm?", "What do you like most about working here?"

Ask what they don't know 

You can also use your questions to help your interviewers fill in any gaps. Ask them if there's anything else they'd like to know about you, whether there are any areas you haven't, "covered sufficiently", whether there's more they need to know. This can help cover unresolved issues and unearth areas where they think you may be weak.

Ask where you stand

Don't ask whether you've got the job, but do ask questions that probe where you stand in the hiring process. Its fine to ask, "Is there any feedback you can give me at this stage?", or, "Are you interviewing many other candidates for this job?", and, "Can you let me know where are you the hiring process...?"

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

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