investment banking behavioral interview questions

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Investment Banking “Fit” Questions: Quick Prep

Investment Banking Fit Questions: Your 3 Strengths and 3 Weaknesses

You need to think about your strengths and weaknesses separately because you won’t necessarily mention them in Your Story.

Your Strengths should be easy: Pick qualities that bankers are looking for (see above), and make sure you can demonstrate them in your 3 short stories.

For the “Success Story” above, you could point to your attention to detail, teamwork/leadership skills, and knowledge of accounting and finance.

Stick to the common, boring strengths – don’t try to be “creative” by saying that you are great at basket weaving or scuba diving or something else that is irrelevant.

Your weaknesses are much harder. In over a decade of conducting mock interviews, I’ve never heard a decent initial answer for this question.

First off, do NOT go by our previous article on this topic because my thinking has changed, and I need to rewrite that article.

There are no good answers to this question, but there are some terrible answers that you must avoid.

Any “weakness” that you cite in an interview should:

  • Be Real, But Not TOO Real – Pick something that is a real weakness, but which is not a “deal-breaker weakness.” For example, you could say that you sometimes take too long to make decisions, which makes projects take more time. This weakness could affect your performance, but it won’t kill you. On the other hand, being bad at math or not being able to work long hours will kill you.
  • Be a Real Answer and Not a Cliché – Please don’t say, “I work too hard!” or “I’m too much of a perfectionist.”
  • Not Be Inappropriate or Overly Personal – Don’t talk about your health problems, family issues, religion, politics, etc.
  • Be Something That You Could Potentially Fix or Improve – So, don’t talk about your height, the fact that English is not your first language, or your non-target school.
  • Here are a few examples of “decent” weaknesses you could use to answer investment banking fit questions:

  • “Sometimes I don’t speak up even when someone else on the team or a superior has made a mistake or overlooked something.” – This one is good because it’s not a universal weakness; it depends on the context. Sometimes, you should not speak up (e.g., if it will embarrass a senior banker in front of a client).
  • “I don’t always manage my time well, and sometimes I focus more on finishing urgent tasks than making long-term plans.” – This one is less of a cliché than the “I work too hard” or “I’m too much of a perfectionist” response.
  • “I sometimes take too much time to make decisions, or I second-guess myself, which makes projects take more time.” – This one could hurt you on the job, but it’s still better to deliver a correct work product, even if it takes more time.
  • There are no “good” answers, but these examples are less terrible than others I’ve heard over the years.

    Many sources also recommend that you explain how you’re working to fix your weaknesses.

    That’s a nice idea, but you may not have enough time to explain it, especially if the interviewer has asked you for 3 weaknesses.

    Also, it will sound a bit artificial if you say that you’re using Approaches X, Y, and Z to fix Weaknesses A, B, and C.

    So, if you do want to add this point to your answer, make it short and casual.

    2. Walk me through your CV

    This question serves two practical purposes. Firstly, the interviewer wants to see how well you can sell/ market yourself. In banking/ consulting, you are as much a product as the actual service deliverable. The client needs to believe in you and this question is one way to test your ability to be a good salesman. If you can’t sell yourself, what can you sell?

    Secondly, it’s just practically convenient to have you, the author of your resume, quickly highlight the key points.

    Do not make the mistake of giving templated answers here. Your answers have to be natural.

    5. Hobbies, Interests and related questions

    This can be thrown at you from multiple angles. Most of the time though, it’s a result of something that is spotted on your CV.

    The mistake that most candidates make here is that they try to come up with something that sounds interesting, but they aren’t really into it. Interviewers can spot that form a mile.

    The key is to present whatever boring hobbies you actually have, in an interesting way. It also does a lot to highlight your sales skills that we touched on before (If you can’t sell your hobbies, what can you sell?).

    For example, I like video games and books. How drab.

    So, I decided to instead mention my all-time favorite game – a Grand Strategy set in the early industrial age. And things suddenly got a lot more interesting. There’s lot to talk about now – history, economics, Adam Smith, railroads, manufacturing, globalization, military strategy, artillery tables, dreadnoughts, John Stuart Mill and so on.

    Why am I telling you this? To make the point that you can make anything interesting and unique with an angle. I could have just lied and instead said that I like playing the harp (after watching a few YouTube videos about it). But wasn’t my original answer more interesting?

    You won’t believe the sort of crazy hobbies that I have heard over the years, and in many cases, it backfires because some candidates are just trying to bluff their way through.

    FAQ

    What are the top 10 behavioral questions in an interview?

    Top 10 Behavioral Interview Questions And What To Answer
    • Describe how you handled a challenging situation.
    • How well can you handle criticism?
    • How well can you work under pressure?
    • Describe how you handled your mistake.
    • Describe how you overcame a difficulty/barrier.
    • How do you feel about strict deadlines?

    What are the most common investment banking interview questions?

    Top 10 Investment Banking Interview Questions
    • How do you value a company?
    • What is the appropriate discount rate to use in an unlevered DCF analysis?
    • What is typically higher – the cost of debt or the cost of equity?
    • How do you calculate the cost of equity?
    • How would you calculate beta for a company?

    How do you answer financial behavior interview questions?

    7 Tips To Acing Your Investment Banking Interview
    1. Show That You’ll Be Easy To Work With. …
    2. Know Your Stuff. …
    3. Be Respectful & Reserved. …
    4. Bring Your Elevator Pitch. …
    5. Show You Are Eager To Learn. …
    6. Lay Some Groundwork Beforehand. …
    7. Get Your Financial Statements Right.

    How do I stand out in investment banking interview?

    7 Tips To Acing Your Investment Banking Interview
    1. Show That You’ll Be Easy To Work With. …
    2. Know Your Stuff. …
    3. Be Respectful & Reserved. …
    4. Bring Your Elevator Pitch. …
    5. Show You Are Eager To Learn. …
    6. Lay Some Groundwork Beforehand. …
    7. Get Your Financial Statements Right.

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