4 Helpful Tips for Breaking into Investment Banking

Recruiting for the most lucrative finance careers is incredibly competitive. Specifically, one of the most difficult positions to land is as an investment banking analyst. Firms typically only hire the most qualified undergraduates from the top undergraduate institutions in the world.  If you don’t go to one of the top schools or have solid connections, you have to be sure that the rest of your application is incredibly polished. These four tips will help get you started off on the right foot and help you ace even the most tricky IB interview questions.

1. Polish Your Resume First

In order to be taken seriously and successfully land interviews at the top investment banks, you need to make sure your CV has the proper format, diction and quantifiable results to pass the very strict screening process.  We highly recommend you use a proven resume template to make sure that you are following standard industry protocol (also, don’t forget a polished cover letter as well).  

Word of warning: Do NOT include a summary section and make sure to keep it on one page.

2. Start Your Networking Early

Even though the hours in investment banking are long with many junior bankers working over 80 hours per week, many analysts still like to take the time and help students from their alma mater gain an edge in recruiting. You should not be shy about using LinkedIn to set up informational meetings, traveling to your target city and attending information sessions to make sure that you are a familiar face once recruiting season starts. Many undergraduates make the mistake of waiting until recruiting season has already begun. By that point, the students who have already put effort into their network will be reaping the benefits by landing more interviews.

3. Do at Least 5 Mock Interviews

Interviewing is a skill that can be improved significantly with practice. Trying to survive investment banking interviews with minimal practice will usually result in a quick rejection. You won’t just be asked standard questions such as “Why Investment Banking?” but you’ll also be expected to answer technical questions that demonstrate your understanding of complex finance topics like company valuations, mergers & acquisitions, and accounting.  

4. Don’t Underestimate the Behavioral Questions

With the investment banking interview courses available today, many candidates will ace the technical portion of the interview but fail to really differentiate themselves on the fit questions. Make sure you put in the time practising these more nuanced questions as well. We recommend having at least five stories you can reference from school, extracurricular activities and/or past work experience. Each story should be malleable to different types of questions so that you can give specific examples that demonstrate your work ethic, your teamwork as well as how you deal with conflicts.  

While the interesting deals and average investment banking salary of $85,000 (+$70,000 bonus for top performers) makes the industry an attractive option for undergraduates, it also means that you have to be thoroughly prepared to work hard and prepare ahead of time to land one of these coveted positions.   

Best of Luck!

Patrick Curtis is the CEO of Wall Street Oasis, the largest online community for students targeting careers in finance with over 4 million pageviews per month and over 500,000 members. 


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