Last week we posted about how the investment banking interview process is ostensibly challenging, but in reality, much more manageable because so many candidates fail at various checkpoints due to flaws that can be easily rectified. One of these checkpoints is the behavioral interview. The interview section covers in depth what candidates should say. This post is going to cover what candidates should not say.
Exhibit A: Things Investment Bankers Do Not Like
I am in sciences because I have always wanted to be a pharmacist, but I realized that pharmacy is not my calling. I heard a speech at the [School Finance Conference] and I know that it is investment banking. I always did very well in my science classes but it is not intellectually stimulating like investment banking work. I want to be driving transactions and making things happen.
Investment banking appeals to me because I get to work with the smartest people that will make me challenge myself. Early in my career, I want to work as hard as I can and learn as much as I can by working 100-hour weeks. This is going to give me a great foundation, and then I will have a lot of options in private equity or at a hedge fund.
This is a passionate monologue, but the candidate has probably failed about 10 times already as illustrated in the following dissection. The key takeaway for the person on the other side of the table is that this candidate has no idea what they are talking about. These candidates are also the most annoying and are subsequently blacklisted.
I heard a speech at the [School Finance Conference] and I know that it is investment banking.
The school conference is a recent event if the candidate is in an on-campus investment banking interview and lacks substance. Entering the finance industry is something that takes a lot of thought and dedication that cannot be carved out on a whim. An interest in the industry should be demonstrated via empirical evidence, whether having had an investment portfolio for a while, a finance blog or active participation in relevant clubs.
I always did very well in my science classes but it is not intellectually stimulating unlike investment banking work.
This suggests that the candidate does not have an appreciation for routine investment banking work, much of which is mundane manual work that requires no analytical rigour. Relationship managers in the managing director chair have honed their corporate finance knowledge and strategic advisory skills over decades of grunt work. Anything can be interesting, certainly science, and anything can have unsavoury aspects – this answer also suggests a lack of focus.
Tying the science background to certain corporate finance transactions and how they were engaging could be a good start.
I want to be driving transactions and making things happen.
Entry-level investment bankers are tools not craftsmen. A much better answer is to get exposure and play a part in helping transactions get over the finish line.
Investment banking appeals to me because I get to work with the smartest people that will make me challenge myself.
This is a fluffy answer because it could be used for strategy consulting, technology or practically any other workplace. Working with the smartest people in corporate finance because the candidate enjoys corporate finance is a better comment, but still requires substance.
Early in my career, I want to work as hard as I can and learn as much as I can by working 100-hour weeks.
No one who works 100 hour weeks enjoys 100 hour weeks, so this suggests a poor understanding of what the job will actually be like. 100 hours is a very long time. 100 hours on this website would probably make someone smarter than 95% of junior investment bankers.
Never bring up the hours – however, bankers will often ask about the level of comfort in working long hours (or framed differently, “why do you want to work 100 hours a week?”). A better way to address this is to state that while it is not part of the allure, the candidate is cognizant of the sacrifices involved and has weighed the challenge and exposure to be worthwhile. Notice that compensation was also not mentioned.
This is going to give me a great foundation, and then I will have a lot of options in private equity or at a hedge fund.
The candidate must sell the banker that hiring them is good for the bank, not the other way around. Wanting to leave banking is not looked upon favorably at many banks, so if an exit is desired down the road, this should be approached with discretion. Also, private equity and hedge funds are very different, reiterating a lack of focus.
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