Investment Banking Interview Process & Questions - Wiley IB

Investment Banking phone interview

Banking Investment / September 26, 2014

Investment Banking Phone Interview is part 2 of the Non-Core Interview Process. If you have landed a first round interview, congratulations on nailing step one of Landing an Interview. You should now feel more confident because your resume was vetted from a plethora of potential candidates.

Nailing your investment banking phone interview is a crucial step in landing the position. First round phone interviews are done for both internship and full-time recruiting. The art of doing well on phone interviews is by properly preparing for questions that will be asked. I know the questions and will help you dominate the process.

Will you have a first round Phone Interview? There are 2 out of 3 scenarios where you will have a phone interview:

  1. Yes: If you belong to a “Non-Core” school all first rounds will be held over the phone
  2. Yes: If you are a “Core” candidate but missed the on-site interviews and are now interviewing in the “Non-Core” interview process
  3. No: If you are a “Core” candidate but interview on-campus. First round will be live with investment bankers

Phone interviews are generally done by associates and vice presidents within the bank. What usually happens is the HR department will give the banker 5 to 7 resumes and will tell him/her to rank the people he/she speaks with from best to worst. Typically only the number one and two people on the list will go on to Final Round Superdays. Their job is to “weed out” candidates who aren’t serious about investment banking or people that are not outgoing and interesting on the phone.

The first round is generally less technical than the final round and is used to gauge the personality and fit of potential candidates. If you can hold a casual conversation with the interviewer while simultaneously showing that you want the job more than every other candidate you are going to do great. Below are great questions to practice before your phone interview. A majority of these questions I can almost guarantee will come up in some shape or form on your interview.

Phone Interview Questions that are asked:

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • Why do you want to be an Investment Banker?
  • Why do you want to work at this Investment Bank?
  • Tell me about the classes you are taking? Favorite and least favorite classes?
  • Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses?
  • What are the main ways investments bankers values a company?
  • Walk me through a DCF?
  • What are the different valuation techniques?
  • Walk me through the major lines of an Income Statement? Balance Sheet? Cash Flow?

Mock interviewers are key to preparing for a phone interview. Ask your friend or somebody at your schools career resource center to help you answer these questions above. Thinking of what you’re going to say when answering these questions can sound much differently in your head then when you actually verbalize them in front of somebody. Once you feel confident in your ability to verbalize these answers you are close to being ready for your first round phone interview.

Very rarely do students have an interviewing “gift” where they can knock the leather off the ball their first time around. So many investment bankers, and including like myself, nailed interviews because we failed so many times before. It took me at least half a dozen interviews to really show my true potential.

General rule in a first round investment banking phone interview is that you can’t miss any technical questions that arise. Typically bankers like to ask at least one technical question to gauge that you have done your homework. They usually aren’t the hardest questions but you should be prepared to answer them. If you miss any of the technical questions it will be tough for you to move on to the next round. I went through dozens of phone interviews and kept finding myself making small cheat sheets for questions that might be asked, I compiled my work into the Phone Interview Cheat Sheet found the Investment Banking Guide (also included in behavioral guide). I found the cheat sheet VERY valuable and have since handed this down to close friends and family who have landed full time iBanking jobs. Phone interviews can be very predictable so make sure to be 100% prepared, you might never get a redo with that firm again.

Phone interviews are followed by on-site Super Day at the investment bank; there is a much broader set of questions that will be asked at Super Day all of which are covered in the IB Interview Guide.

After your phone interview make sure to follow-up with a “thank you letter” to the recruiter. You will generally hear back from your phone interview within 2 weeks, and even sometimes within days.