So you have spent the time meticulously crafting your resume and sent it in for that open investment analyst position, waited patiently by the phone for the call back and now it is time for the interview. An analyst interview can be a little different from most other positions, you never know how heavy of an emphasis the interviewer will place on technical knowledge and how much will be placed on background and personality. It is important to go in prepared for anything, so use the following tips to help ace that interview and land the job you have been working so hard to get.
The First Impression
As with many other social interactions in life, the first impression in an analyst interview will often be a major determinant in your success or failure. It is important to come off as both confident and humble at the same time. You want to demonstrate confidence in your abilities without seeming arrogant or overenthusiastic. As cliche as it may sound, a firm handshake can convey that confidence, and waiting for the interviewer to sit down before you do can show your deference and humble attitude. Walk through your resume in less than a minute, the interviewer has either already read it, or they will once you have left the room, so don’t take too much time going over the bullet points of your past. When speaking, be punchy and brief, end your sentences definitively and avoid trailing off or rambling on. Perhaps most importantly however, it is essential that you take time to listen! Don’t just speak, but allow the interviewer time to process your answers and reply.Technicals
While every interviewer will be different in the amount of technical knowledge they expect candidates to know, you can safely expect to have at least a few questions on things like DCF, comp transactions, the CAPM and the WACC. If you can speak intelligently about what those things mean in the real world and avoid reciting the formulas, then you will be in pretty good shape. Be able to speak in practical terms about how technical aspects are applied in daily business, and again, do not ramble on. Craft your answer in the same way you would if you were explaining these subjects to a person who has no experience with them. If you don’t know an answer, simply say you do not know. Admitting that you do not know something is better than trying to fluff an answer on a rambling tangent, the interviewer will appreciate the honesty. If you do say “I don’t know”, explain to the interviewer your thought process and ask if you are on the right track, it will show your ability to think critically about things you are not necessarily familiar with. If you are asked to do any calculations, walk the interviewer through the steps of the work to demonstrate a mastery of the concept.
So the meat of the interview is over, and now it is time to wrap up and ask your own questions. A last impression can often be just as important as the first impression so taking the time to ask well thought out questions is a must. Before you ask anything though, it is nice to say something to the effect of “I’ve done lots of research on your firm and talked to a lot of people so I know your firm pretty well, so I really want to hear more about our own personal experiences here.” This is a good way to allow the interviewer an opportunity to engage you personally, they will remember you for it. Some other good questions to ask your interviewer, in no particular order:
1) Can you tell me about a recent deal you have personally worked on that left you feeling satisfied?
2) Has anything about being employed here surprised you?
2) Can you tell me what you guys do for fun?
Don’t get too specific with the line of questioning, you are trying to gain a sense of what it will be like to work there, not right a report. On the flip side, here are some questions to avoid:
1) What are the hours here like?
2) Anything related to compensation, unless they bring it up first.
Finally, don’t stand up until the interviewer does. Let them signal that the interview is concluded and give another firm handshake on the way out. Now go ace that interview!