Wednesday, January 7, 2009

An Excellent Resource On Investment Banking Interviews

I've been a long-time reader of Mergers and Inquisitions (at least, I've read it since its start).

The guy who writes it ("The Inquisitor") has a couple of years experience in investment banking, but left the industry a while ago to pursue other interests. He writes most often on the process of getting a job in investment banking, what the life of a low-level investment banking scut-puppy is like, and so on. He's funny, seems to know his stuff, writes well, and links to this blog, so I couldn't ask for more.

A student of mine is going today to visit an alumni at a major investment bank. The alum is an Managing Director at the firm and has taken the student under his wing. He invited the student to spend the day at the bank, and is having him squired around by a couple of mid-level folks to help the student learn more about the firm and hone his pitch for when he gets his internship interview.

As part of his preparation, I had the student read all of M&I's posts. He also bought this guide the M&I blogger put together, titled Breaking into Wall Street: 200 Investment Banking Interviews and Answers. He had me look it over and give him my impressions. So here they are:

If you're trying to get a banking job (or even a job in investment management), buy this guide before you go on your interviews. Don't ask questions - just buy it. It lists quite a few technical questions (like "what are the three financial statements, and how do they link together?", or "when do you capitalize and when do you expense outlays?") along with clear, succinct answers. But more importantly, it spends a lot of time on how to put together a consistent, compelling "story" about yourself that will sell well with an Investment Bank (or at least, how to avoid saying things that will get you eliminated).

The biggest mistake most new applicants make is that they don't take the time to put together a consistent narrative about who they are and why it fits with the firm at which they're interviewing. This guide will help them to do thexactly that.

The only addition I'd like to see is a few pages on structuring a resume - what to do and what to avoid. I realize the author provides that service for a fee, and might be considering doing that as a separate guide. But putting this in the guide would make it even better. However, even with that shortfall, this guide is worth its cost many times over.

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