Bank of America Merrill Lynch Interview Questions
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The hiring process at BofA has changed in recent years since the acquisition of Merrill Lynch. Bank of America accepts applicants from a variety of degree backgrounds, however applicants to technology programmes should come from a Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, or Engineering background, and mathematical, technical and business skills are highly valued for other roles. Most analyst positions require a 2:1 degree classification. Relevant work experience and foreign languages are also an advantage.
The application process at BofA consists of:
- Online Application and Testing
- Telephone Interview
- Assessment Centre
Bank of America lists certain qualities that it looks for in the graduate students they hire, such as:
- Innovation and creativity
- Team-working and trust
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to work in a fast-paced environment and multi-task
- Excellent Communication Skills – must be able to interact with a variety of people
- Global outlook
You should also attempt to display a genuine interest in financial markets, and a 'forward-looking approach' to problems and issues, as Bank of America prides itself on being a progressive and adaptable company that will be well-prepared for any future challenges.
BofA also lists their core principles that guide their business operations. These may be useful to keep in mind when answering questions such as 'Why Bank of America?' and 'What can you do for our company?'
The 5 core values are:
- We deliver – quality and reliability in client service is paramount
- Trust – belief in the strength of the team, and transparency in all interactions
- Empowerment – embracing diversity and inclusion leads to better outcomes for all
- Responsibility – accountability for actions
- Opportunity – promoting the potential to build a better future
You will have 20 minutes to answer 20 questions.
If you pass the online test, you will then be asked to complete a number of further questions, which will be entirely competency-based, such as your reasons for choosing this position and your leadership experience.
Note that BofA will not contact you to arrange an interview until after the official deadline has passed for most roles. Applications for technology roles are assessed on a rolling basis so it is advised to apply as early as possible. Though you may only apply for one position, your application may be considered for other roles at BofA’s discretion.
Your first interview will be a telephone interview that will last for approximately 30 minutes, with a VP or other senior member from the department to which you have applied. This will be a competency based interview so you should prepare answers for all standard types of competency based questions.
Examples of questions you may be asked:
- Can you describe when you worked in a team/group on a project, and any challenges you faced?
- Give an example when you showed resilience or motivation in the last 6-12 months.
- When have you dealt with disagreement?
- What is your biggest individual achievement?
- How do you deal with failure?
- Give an example of a time when you influenced a group or person in making a decision?
- Describe a time when you have had to analyse data in order to reach a solution.
- Describe a time when you have had to do a task without much time to prepare for it.
- What have been some recent changes to the Banking Industry, and how do these affect Bank of America?
You may also be asked to talk about current market news, and further questioning may stem from the answers you give, so be prepared to speak confidently and at length on a certain topic and to be able to expand on anything you say.
You have several examples of teamwork and leadership prepared and justification for your choice of division, as well as an understanding of what your role would entail.
You will also have the opportunity to ask questions of your interviewer, so make sure you are ready with specific inquiries that demonstrate your understanding of the industry.
Interviews for more technical positions may also involve a few specific technical questions.
Numerical and Logical Tests
Candidates will first write another in-house numerical reasoning test, or a logical reasoning test in the case of Technology applicants). This test is often presented in video format, projected on a screen for all candidates, so it is imperative that you work quickly as the text will scroll down as time progresses. The numerical test will have 20-30 questions, and an equal number of minutes.
Group Exercise and Individual Presentation
You will then be presented with a case study, likely based on current issues, designed to test your reactions to real-life scenarios.
You will be given 30 minutes on your own to prepare, followed by a 30 minute group exercise.
You are being evaluated on your interaction with others during this period, so be sure to allow and encourage others to speak, yet to present your perspective in a convincing way.
This group exercise may involve arriving at a choice as a group, or it may simply be a discussion. Ensure that you keep the group on topic.
Following the group exercise you will be asked to give the individual presentation that you have prepared on the topic during the previous 30-minute period. You may also be required to report on the consensus of the group.
The presentation should last 10 minutes, and make use of a flip chart. You can expect to be questioned on your reasoning by your evaluators following the presentation if there is time remaining.
Finally, you will face an interview with one or two VPs from the service line to which you have applied, lasting 30 minutes. This interview, like the first, will be mainly competency based, though it will feature a higher proportion of role-specific questions.
In addition to typical competency questions, you may be asked:
- What are our assets?
- What is GDP?
- Tell me about a time when you have dealt with clients?
- Where would you invest your money right now?
- What do you think the Euro will do during the year?
- Write a recursive function for the Fibonacci sequence.
- What is the difference between equity and debt?
As in the first interview, the interviewer may probe you with further questions pertaining to your answers to the previous ones, so do not attempt to use examples that you do not fully understand.
Technology candidates will undergo two interviews, one competency based, and one with a more technical focus, with questions pertaining to specific software platforms and programming languages. You will also be expected to go into detail on one of your past projects.
Examples of technical questions for Technology roles:
- What is the difference between relational DB's and OO DB's?
- What is normalization?
- What is the difference between new and malloc?
- What is the difference between new in C++ and new in Java?
- How do you deallocate the memory allocated by new in C++ and in Java?
- When do we use new and when do we use malloc?
- What is the difference between app server and web server?
- What are the disadvantages of using indexes?
You are unlikely to be asked any riddles or brain-teasers, and it is again advisable to have a few questions ready to ask of your interviewer.
If you do receive an offer from Bank of America, you will need to pass a Criminal Background Check, as well as Employment and Education Verification. Problems with any of these could lead to your offer being rescinded, so it is important that you are entirely truthful in all of the information you provide. You will also be asked to provide fingerprints and documentation confirming your right to work in the UK.
Once successfully hired, you will take part in an internal training program to assure that you are up to date with all company policies and departmental procedures.