What Questions to Ask in an Investment Banking Interview?

I found the following information in the Wetfeet Insider Guide to Careers in Investment Banking. This post follows on from my previous post on Investment Banking Interview Questions and Tips.

The following are good generic questions that will fit most investment banking interviews. However, you’ll want to think of additional ones that apply specifically to the company with which you’re interviewing. One important reminder: If you’ve already covered any of this material in your interview, don’t revisit it. You’ll appear inattentive and unfocused.

A word to the wise: We’ve grouped our questions according to our sense of relative risk. Those in the “Safe” section are meant to be boring and innocuous, while those in the “Well Done” section will help you put the fire to your interviewer’s feet.

Safe Questions

  • What kind of person are you looking for? (This question will provide useful information on personal characteristics you should emphasize.)
  • What makes a person successful in this business?
  • What made you choose this firm over other firms?
  • What is a typical career path in the (corporate finance, sales, trading, research) department?
  • How much of an analyst/associate’s time is spent pitching new business?
  • Is there a formal mentoring program for new analysts/associates?
  • If I’m a CEO, why would I choose your firm to take my company public?

Medium

  • Beyond the league tables, what differentiates your firm from other firms?
  • How is an analyst/associate assigned from the generalist pool to a project?
  • How long does it take most people here to become managing directors?
  • Can one request specific teams, industries, or product groups?
  • How well do the firm’s different divisions work together?
  • What’s the path? Are there specific benchmarks you have to hit?
  • What are the firm’s biggest challenges and opportunities in the next 2 years?
  • What aspect of your job do you find most frustrating?



Well Done

  • How has increased consolidation in the industry affected your firm, both positively and negatively?
  • If the company has merged: What new business has resulted from the merger? How well have the two cultures mixed?
  • How would your firm fare relative to the competition if interest rates suddenly skyrocketed? If oil prices plummeted? (Or whatever else you can think of along these lines, to help you gauge how prepared the firm is for future possibilities.)
  • If the company has not merged: Do you think the company needs to acquire or merge with a competitor in the near future?
  • How committed is the firm to building its XYZ business? (Investment banks are known to eliminate entire departments when they underperform against expectations, and if you happen to work for one of those departments, that is not usually good news..)
  • What percentage of the managing directors are female or minority?

6 thoughts on “What Questions to Ask in an Investment Banking Interview?”

  1. Thanks. I used the questions in my job interviews and found them most useful. Do you know where I could find more questions like this? Kind Regards.

  2. Shoot me an email (contact details) on the about me page there is a contact form and I’ll send you some material.. glad to hear it helped…

  3. James – spot on in the medium category. Totally off target on the ‘well done’ category (especially for a corporate finance/M&A role).

    Recruiters want to know that you can think of and ask questions pertinent to the role you are interviewing for which is why the ‘medium’ questions you listed above were so good.

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