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Credit Suisse Interview Questions & Application Process

Updated October 16, 2021

Written by the WikiJob Team

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As a leading banking organisation with extensive global operations, the application process at Credit Suisse is as challenging and rigorous as any you might expect to face when applying to a major investment bank.

Perhaps more so than other employers in this sector, the recruitment process at Credit Suisse is heavily biased towards interviews, with successful candidates expected to face at least two to three rounds of interviews before a final offer is made.

Depending on the position and location of the role you are applying for, you can expect to undergo a number of different stages within the overall process. These may include (but are not restricted to) the following:

  • Online application
  • Online numerical testing
  • Preliminary telephone interview
  • Assessment centre interviews
  • Group task exercise

An overview of each of the application stages is provided below:

Stage One: Online Application

An online application is the first stage of the process; these are submitted online through the firm’s automated application portal. You will be asked to enter details of your work experience and background, as well as extra-curricular interests, and to include a copy of your CV as well as a covering letter. See these articles on how to write a CV and how to write a cover letter.

Tip: Credit Suisse’s graduate recruitment site offers a list of key points that you should look to include in your covering letter. Aim to provide examples of each point to increase your chances of moving on to the next stage of the application.

Stage Two: Psychometric Tests

Should your application pass preliminary screening, you can expected be invited to undertake one or more psychometric test exercises. These are provided by a company called Kenexa and usually consist of two separate tests: a numerical reasoning test and a verbal reasoning test. Each test lasts 20 minutes. Here are mode details on each:

Numerical Reasoning Test

The numerical reasoning test is similar to the one used by most major investment banking graduate employers. The purpose is to examine your ability to use and process numerical data within a narrow time constraint. The test consists of 20 questions, which will need to be answered within a 20-minute time window. You will be presented with a series of data sets: tables, charts or graphs, together with some additional information for you to process. Alongside each of these data sets will be a number of multiple-choice questions relating to the above sources, in which you will need to select the correct answer from a choice of five.

Verbal Reasoning Test

Credit Suisse’s verbal reasoning test assesses your ability to understand and manipulate information in written form. Again, you’ll have 20 questions to answer within an allotted 20-minute time-frame. You will be provided with a series of short articles or excerpts to read through before tackling a series of multiple-choice questions that seek to examine your analytical and critical thinking skills

Tip: As is standard practice in preparing for any online psychometric exercise, you will need to spend as much time as possible familiarising yourself with the format of the Kenexa test and working your way through practice versions. There are practice options available on the Credit Suisse graduate site itself; WikiJob also offers practice numerical and verbal tests based on those used by employers.

**To access the tests, [click here the button below]

Stage Three: Preliminary Interview (Competency-Based)

If successful in navigating the psychometric testing stage, you may be invited to undertake a preliminary screening interview, which will normally be conducted over the phone by a member of the firm’s HR department or graduate recruitment team. The interview will determine whether you are a strong enough candidate to progress to the second round or assessment centre stage of the process. The style of the interview is likely to be competency-based, rather than technical, and will focus on general questions regarding your strengths and weaknesses rather than on the firm itself.

Here are some of the types of questions you can expect to face:

  • What is your greatest achievement?
  • Can you give an example of a recent challenge you had to overcome?
  • Tell me about a time when you didn’t succeed in doing something.
  • Can you give an example of when you worked under pressure and how it affected you?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to communicate information to someone less knowledgeable on the subject than yourself.

Tip: Again, good preparation is essential. Having researched some of the more typical competency-style questions (including those above), start thinking about your approach to answering them and specific evidence of skills and competencies from your past experience. Following the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is a good starting point for structuring your answers.

Also be sure to check out our guide to competency-based interviews, and competency-based interview questions, for further advice on this topic.

Stage Four: Assessment Centre Interviews

Next, you may be invited to attend an assessment centre at the Credit Suisse offices, which is likely to comprise a series of face-to-face interviews and possibly a group task. The number of interviews you can expect to face will often vary from candidate to candidate, and may also depend on the specific role you are applying for. Regardless, you should be prepared to face as many as two or three further rounds at this stage.

Each interview will normally be conducted by one or more mid-level or senior employees from the division you are applying to. The interviews are likely to be CV-based in the first instance, focusing on your background and experience and interest in the company and financial markets.

Here are some of the types of questions you can expect to face at this stage:

  • Why are you interested in working in finance/ investment banking?
  • Why would you like to work/intern at Credit Suisse?
  • What do you know about the firm and what we do?
  • Why do you want to work for Credit Suisse over other firms?
  • How did you decide on your chosen university?
  • Why did you choose this particular university course?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • How do you think you would cope with working long hours?

As your progress to the latter stages of the interview process, you can expect the style of questioning to become more technical and specific to the role you applying for. Investment banking candidates, for example, are likely to face questions relating to current financial market or economic developments, as well as those designed to explore understanding of the day-to-day role they’d be performing.

These more technical questions could include:

  • Can you tell me what has been going on in the markets recently?
  • Why do you think markets are currently so high/low?
  • What’s your opinion on the Greek debt crisis / oil price slump etc.?
  • Can you explain to me what a swap is with an example of who might use one?
  • Can you explain why a trade may not reconcile?
  • How competent are you with Excel?
  • Describe how and why someone would use the IF function, macros etc.

Tip: While perhaps more of an unknown quantity than competency-based interviews, it is still advisable to prepare thoroughly for CV and technical interviews to give yourself the best possible chance of success.

You should look to research Credit Suisse as much as possible, including recent transactions or deals the firm was involved in. You should also make sure you fully understand the department and role you are applying for and be able to make a convincing argument as to why you see yourself working there. Avoid giving scripted or overly rehearsed answers; you want to appear as natural as possible. It’s also a good idea to keep on top of recent developments in the markets and the wider economy, including on the morning of the interview itself.

It goes without saying that you should aim to come across as enthusiastic and interested. Smiling, demonstrating positive body language and having a few intelligent questions to hand to ask your interviewers will all help to demonstrate interest and engagement.

Stage Five: Group Exercise

A group assessment exercise may form the final stage of the assessment process, though again, it will depend on the role you are applying for. The exercise involves candidates being split into separate groups of around three individuals. They are asked to read through a case study or project, which will normally involve a problem or issue that needs resolving. The groups will have about 30 minutes to discuss the issue and, together, come up with different solutions for tackling the problem.

At the end of this, each group will be expected to give a presentation of around 10 minutes in length, focusing on the solution they have found and how to implement it. The assessor (usually a mid-level or senior-division employee) will act as the assessor and pose questions to the individual group members giving the presentation.

Tip: This is arguably the hardest part of the assessment process to prepare for, as you will have little insight into the nature or topic of the case study and are therefore likely to find yourself thinking on your feet. That said, you should look to spend some time researching recent projects or transactions the division you are applying for has been involved with, to give you an idea of what to expect.

It’s vital that you make a significant contribution to the preparation phase of the exercise as well as the delivery of the presentation itself, both of which are likely to be monitored. Taking a back seat and not making yourself heard will almost certainly count against you, so be prepared to speak up. At the same time, trying to dominate proceedings and not listening to others is also likely to be frowned upon. A happy medium between the two is ideal.

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