Monday, March 26, 2007

Investment Banking Interview IX

Investment Banking Interview – Preparation Guide IX

Questions to Ask the Interviewer

At the end of your investment banking interview, you are usually offered a chance to ask questions. However this is also a signal telling you time’s up and that you are allowed to go any time. Therefore, don’t wait to be asked to ask. Ask whenever you feel appropriate.

Recently, I was invited to join another executive search firm, so I have to go through a series of interviews. My preparation was just the same as I’ve told you, though I focus on headhunting while you focus on investment banking.

During my research, I found that my future employer has a unique company culture and fee structure. I have therefore prepared a few relevant questions. Once we touched those topics, I started asking. At the end of the interview, though I was offered a chance to ask, I’ve actually asked all I wanted to ask.

As Merrill Lynch said, students who ask well thought-out and well-educated questions are always impressive. It is important that you make it clear to interviewers that you’ve took time to learn as much information as possible about the position you are applying for.

Though your investment banking interview could be stressful, you should keep a clear mind as to formulate questions during the process. Ask some follow up questions that interest you during the discussion and ask for clarification or more information. You can also use this tactic during the second round of interviews as some interviewers like to start by letting you to ask.

If you are really out of questions to ask, say this: “I’ve actually asked all the questions I wanted to ask, so far, but may I ask what the next step is?" This shows your interest in continuing with the process.

Ask Only Good Questions
Don’t ask basic questions that can be answered by attending an employer presentation or reviewing the website. Have three or four intelligent questions ready, e.g. asking about the interviewer’s background or what he or she thinks would make a great analyst, trader, etc.

Sample of Good Questions
Man is not born equal. Take interns as an example, some are exposed to intensive training while some others do copy typing. Ask intellegent questions would help getting a good deal. Consider these:

  • What would be my summer responsibilities? How do these roles compare with that of a full-time associate? Try to make sure the answer you receive is as specific as possible.
  • How many summer interns were given permanent job offers in the last year and what’s the percentage? This shows you're interested in opportunities after graduation at the firm.
  • Would you rotate interns among departments? Let them know if you have a specific department that you want to work in.

Tips from Citigroup
Try to attend as many recruiting events as possible, where you will have the opportunity to talk to employees, and find out more about what they do on a day-to-day basis and get a better feel for the position and/or industry. You should go to these recruiting events with a number of key questions to ask company representatives, e.g.:

  • What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
  • What do you think are the key skills you need to do your job?
  • What attracted you to the financial services industry and why?

    Source: Citigroup
The answers you collect from recruiting events will certainly help you formulating more good questions to ask at a formal investment banking interview.

Post interview follow up – to be continued

Recommended reading: IB Interview Guide

Investment Banking Interview

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