How to land a job in Investment banking? (Part 1)

English: Wall Street sign on Wall Street

Photo credit: Wikipedia

I found this article initially presented by vault interesting: “Money makes the world go round, and those in charge of money are the financiers. Have thirst for relevance? The finance industry has always been a competitive field, due in large part to the glamour and prestige assigned to the working relationships with industry titans. Of course, the outstanding salaries explain much of the pull as well. (Unless you can dunk a basketball or throw football 50 yards, it’s hard to beat the pay in investment banking, where recent college grads can come close to six figures.)  So what’s the secret to landing a finance gig? Naturally, identifying opportunities is the first step. Many finance firms have structured on-campus recruiting processes. If you’re in college or graduate school (especially business school), check with the career services office to see which finance companies recruit at your campus. If the company you’ve got your eye on doesn’t come to your school, don’t despair. Many firms accept resumes from non-targeted schools. Check the firm’s web site to find out how to submit your resume. Firm web sites are also a good bet for those out of school looking to change jobs or careers. Additionally, check with friends and alumni for openings at a specific firm or in the finance industry in general.

Virtually every recruiter or professional agrees that no matter how you hear about your position, the most important factor in getting a job is making a good impression in your interview. No matter what your credentials, experience or references, if you don’t come off in your interviews as someone who can do the job and who will fit in at the company, you stand little to no chance of getting hired. Don’t be too put off by the pressure. If you’ve landed an initial interview, you can assume someone at the firm, in reviewing your resume, thinks you’ve got at least the basics necessary to succeed. It’s now up to you to prove that to your interviewers by being confident and knowledgeable. This guide will familiarize you with the questions you’re likely to receive in the course of your interview. As you’ll see, you can expect to tested to make sure you can work under pressure, fit into the company’s culture and excel in your job. Finance career opportunities can be broadly divided into several categories, most prominently investment banking, commercial banking, asset management, venture capital and private equity, and finance positions at a corporation like Dell or The Coca-Cola Company (also referred to as “corporate finance”). There is
considerable movement between these positions — I-bankers leave to take posts in industry, or with private equity firms, etc. Generally, the pinnacle for most finance professionals is either as a partner or managing director of a bank, a portfolio manager for an asset management firm, or as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a company. The interviews for each of these industries are very similar.

Investment banking and other finance positions are among the most stressful and demanding positions on the planet and interviews in finance often test an applicant’s tolerance for such an environment. To test an applicant’s stamina, interviews in finance traditionally involve three or four rounds at a minimum, and each round may have up to six interviews, with the number of interviews generally increasing in each round. To test an applicant’s ability to handle stress, interviewers may adopt aversive or stressful interviewing tactics. Insiders say that occasionally a bank or finance interviewer will go so far as to use techniques from rapid-fire quantitative questions such as “How many planes are currently flying over the United States right now?” to confrontational questions such as, “Why should I give you this job? Your resume doesn’t fit our profile.” Firms may ask you specific and detailed questions about your grades in college or business school, even if your school policy prohibits such questions. At other firms, interview rounds may be interspersed with seemingly casual and friendly dinners. Don’t let down your guard! While these dinners are a good opportunity to meet your prospective co-workers, your seemingly genial hosts are scrutinizing you as well. (Read: Don’t drink too much.)  There are generally two parts to the finance hiring process: the “fit part” and the “technical part.” The “fit part” is where the hiring firm deciphers whether or not you fit into their group’s culture. The “technical part” is where the interviewer judges your analytical and technical skills. If you don’t know the basic concepts of finance and accounting, your interviewers will believe (rightly) that you are either 1) not interested in the position or 2) not competent enough to handle the job. While a good deal of this book is devoted to helping you ace the technical part of finance interviews, it is arguably more important that you nail the fit interview, proving that you are someone the people in the group would like to work with. As you go through recruiting in finance interviews, understand that you compete with yourself. Most firms are flexible enough to hire people that are a good fit.” More to come, good luck!

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