Updated 24 May 2020
During your interview for a role in investment banking, you’ll be asked a variety of questions to test your self-awareness, technical skills, competencies and industry awareness.
You won’t be asked all 100 of the questions below, but we've put together for a comprehensive list to aid your preparation.
The categories of questions are:
Be sure to prepare thoroughly for your interview. Read through the question list and prepare an answer for as many as possible.
For the self-description questions, prepare by reading your CV and the job description carefully.
Research the company you’re applying to for the organisational questions.
We recommend thinking of a few relevant examples from your study, extra-curricular activities and prior work that you can use to answer the competency-based questions. Select four or five examples from your experience, and practise tailoring them to fit each question.
You will either know the answers to the technical skills questions or you won’t – so make sure to research each of them in good time before your interview.
Although the scenarios outlined in the situational judgement questions are hypothetical, a good approach is to reference a similar event from your own life that has informed how you approach these sorts of challenges.
This shows your interviewer that you're able to make good judgements in the moment, and that you have demonstrated this ability in the past.
Your interviewer will also ask you contextual questions about bigger cultural and political events, which could have an impact on investment banking. It’s important you stay up-to-date with global politics and business news, so you can answer these questions effectively.
During your investment banking interview, your interviewer will ask about you and your experience.
These questions are a good way for your interviewer to find out how well you know your own career history, if you can look at your experience objectively and the level of your self-awareness.
The interviewer will be looking for concise answers. Part of the skill in answering is summarising years of information so it has relevance to the role and to investment banking.
They’ll also be looking for self-awareness and the ability to understand why and how you do or think certain things.
It can be difficult to find a genuine and concise answer to some of these questions, making them useful ways for your interviewer to understand how you perceive yourself.
4. Talk me through your CV in five minutes.
5. What skills did you learn in your last role that you would bring to this one?
6. What was the most important thing you learned from your degree?
11. What department do you most want to work in and why?
12. Who has been the greatest influence in your life?
13. How would your best friend describe you?
14. How would your previous employer describe you?
15. Why did you leave your last role?
16. What’s the last book you read?
17. What’s your favourite film?
18. What one word describes you best?
19. Why do you think you’d be a good fit for this role?
It’s common for your interviewer to ask questions about the organisation. This is to see if you have done your research and are truly interested in the company.
Some of them are simple and require only a little bit of research. For example, you can easily find information to answer, “What was our share price yesterday?” and “Who is our major competitor?”
However, your interviewer will be looking for a mature and considered response to the questions in this section.
They want to see you have thought about the company and its operations, and understand its aims and priorities.
22. What was our share price yesterday?
23. What do you know about our CEO?
24. What are some of the biggest deals we’ve completed in the last year?
25. Who are our major competitors?
26. What risks do our competitors pose?
27. Explain how our business works.
28. Which division of our organisation do you think is the strongest?
29. What are our goals for the future?
30. How are we trying to achieve those goals?
31. What do you think is missing from our organisation?
32. If you were our CEO, what one change would you make to our company?
33. Give me three things you think will affect our company over the next 12 months.
34. What do you think working in our company is like?
35. Who else are you interviewing with?
36. What other career options are you looking at and why?
As well as understanding your level of self-awareness, your career history and your knowledge of the company, your interviewer will want to understand the skills and competencies you have.
Your interviewer wants you to provide specific and concrete examples that demonstrate competency in these areas.
Unlike situational judgement questions, these aren’t hypothetical situations. You need to take examples from your life, and you must be able to talk about them confidently and concisely.
Your answers should be relevant to the role and investment banking, so think carefully about the information you want to share.
38. Would you say you’re a leader or a follower?
39. Describe an ethical decision you had to make in the past.
40. Have you ever bent or broken the rules to complete a task?
41. What were your grades at university?
42. Can you describe a time when you failed?
43. Why did you fail and what did you learn from it?
44. What’s your approach to risk in your own personal life?
45. When has a team activity gone wrong and what did you do about it?
46. How did you choose which university to go to?
47. Are hard skills or soft skills more important in this role?
48. Tell me about a time where you had two different options to choose from, and explain how you decided on which one to choose.
49. What does ‘leadership’ mean to you?
50. Give me an example of good leadership that you’ve experienced.
51. How do you respond to stress?
52. Explain a situation where you made a mistake and had to tell people. What did you do?
Investment banking is a technically demanding role where you’re required to understand a range of complex financial skills and transactions.
During your interview, you will be asked specific questions that test your hard skills and knowledge of investment banking processes.
Interviewers are looking for answers that are both accurate and concise.
53. How do you value a company?
55. What are the most common multiples used in a valuation?
56. I want to produce the highest valuation for a company. Which methodology should I use?
57. What criteria would you use to select a set of companies for comparison in a valuation?
58. Explain what makes a good financial model.
59. What are the three most important financial statements?
60. What does each of these statements signify?
61. What are the main components of WACC (Weighted Average Cost of Capital)?
62. What formula do you use to calculate WACC for an organisation?
63. Can you explain to me how a buy-side M&A deal works?
64. Why do you think two companies would merge?
65. There’s excess cash on a company’s balance sheet. What could it do?
66. Which factors influence mergers and acquisitions?
67. List three common anti-takeover tactics.
68. What is goodwill and how does it affect net income for an organisation?
69. Why would a company choose to issue debt rather than equity?
70. Explain to me what you’d do if you were working on an IPO for a company.
71. Give me the top benefit of having a company listed on an exchange.
72. Talk me through a model for a leveraged buyout.
73. Talk me through the main items on a cash flow statement.
74. How would you calculate working capital?
75. What is in a pitch book?
You’re presented with a hypothetical situation and required to answer with what you would do or what you think something might be.
Your interviewer is looking for your ability to respond well to an unexpected question, demonstrate good critical thinking, show strong problem-solving skills and be able to logically explain the way you arrived at your answer.
76. You’re about to present to a client and notice a mistake in the calculations you prepared. What do you do?
77. You receive three requests for document preparation from senior staff members at the same time. How do you prioritise them?
78. What would you do if you disagreed with a colleague?
79. What would you do if you disagreed with your manager?
80. You are alone in the office and receive a call from a client to shred some important documents. What do you do?
81. You are responsible for briefing your colleague about the preparation of a financial model and they’ve done it wrong. What is your response?
82. Tell me how many restaurants you think there are in this area of the city, and explain how you got to this answer.
Investment banking influences local, national and global economies due to the high-level, high-impact mergers, acquisitions and other transactions it carries out.
Your interviewer will ask you questions about the industry and your role in it, as well as the relationship between investment banking and a wider global context, to see whether you are aware of this significance.
This may include questions such as “What was on the front page of the The Financial Times today?”, which are designed to test your awareness of current issues and commitment to the role.
Your interviewer also wants to see that you fully understand the work culture, as investment bankers work long hours in stressful environments.
83. Did you look at the FTSE this morning? What was it at?
84. What was on the front page of The Financial Times today?
85. Tell me about a current event in the market that you think is interesting.
86. Which market are you most interested in and why?
87. Which companies do you have investments in?
88. If you could advise me to buy just one stock in the next week, which would it be?
89. What do you think will happen to interest rates in the next year?
90. What are the top three numbers you look at to work out whether a company is worth investing in?
91. Name the companies in the bulge bracket.
92. How might the election of a new prime minister affect the market?
93. Which presidential policies are most likely to affect the stock market and why?
94. What’s your biggest concern about our industry right now?
95. Describe a typical day in the role you are applying for.
96. What are the most important qualities for this role?
97. What sort of lifestyle do you think you will have as an investment banker?
98. How many hours do you expect to work each week?
99. What one thing do you think you will struggle with in this role?
At the end of the interview, your interviewer will ask you one final question.
Make sure you have thought about this ahead of time and prepared some meaningful questions that demonstrate your interest in the role and the company.
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