What Are I-Banking Interviewers Looking For?
I-banking interviewers look for the best and brightest to fill their ranks. This means a candidate who is not only an academic powerhouse, but also someone who has a proven track record, great communication skills, and a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the job at hand.
Highlight Your Interpersonal Skills
People skills are a hot commodity in the I-banking world. "Wall Street ends up hiring tons of people who are very book-smart but complete and utter morons when it comes to life," says one I-banker. "They play with their little financial models all day, but God forbid you have to put them in front of a client."
Emphasize your "people skills." Give examples of leadership experiences and your success working in a team. Be sure you don't come across as arrogant or data-driven to the point of being tiresome.
Communicate Well-through Words as well as Body Language
A savvy use of body language shows you are able to communicate on a variety of different levels. "I [definitely] watch interviewees' body language," says another banker. "Outstanding candidates can read you and will unconsciously adjust to match your behavior to some extent.... During the interview the best candidates also ask questions to get your point of view." A successful candidate looks at the meeting as a relationship-building session more than as an interview.
Talk up Your Accomplishments
"I can't stress enough how important it is for candidates to show me how well they handle a variety of situations-managing people, stress, working on a team," says one banker. If you have an MBA, it is expected that you've made significant career accomplishments, and "you should be able to demonstrate your skills from previous job experiences in detail." Even undergrads are expected to provide examples of applicable accomplishments.
Show That You'll Work Hard
Some I-bankers look for more aggressive traits. One says he wants to know "First off, are you willing to work your ass off for your career? How hungry are you? Second, you need to be curious and willing to ask questions about everything, even if it makes your boss nuts. Finally, you can't be shy-you have to be aggressive, especially as an analyst. People will walk all over you if you let them."
Be the Whole Package
Top banks want you to have it all: a combination of book and people smarts, superb communication skills, confidence, curiosity, honesty, flexibility, and a willingness to dedicate your life to your career.
Jennifer Bruni is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, New York.