How you act in an Investment Banking interview can be as important as anything you say in the interview. You would be amazed at the simple things that can make a real difference to your chances of getting an Investment Banking job.
This post will cover the basics of how you should look, how you should act and other general interview tips. I know some people believe that they should be appreciated for their individuality but the fact is that Investment Banks are incredibly conservative employers and all of the things I talk about below do make a difference.
What should you wear to Investment Banking Interviews?
Ok let’s start with the basics of what you should wear to Investment Banking interviews. I said above that Investment Bankers are very conservative. You should reflect this in the way that you dress.
Being noticed for the way you dress is definitely not a good thing. It is better to go understated rather than over the top. If you’re unsure always err on the side of being conservative. Obviously there are differences between what is appropriate for males and females and I’ve tried to give you some hints below:
- For the guys: Guys dark suits with white or light blue shirts, black shoes and a conservative tie is the only combination of suits that you should be wearing.
- You should only deviate from this if you know it is the custom in the country you work in.
- For example in European countries (and in Australia) wearing French cuffs is absolutely acceptable and part of normal work attire while in the US it is unacceptable
- I’ve heard that a vest is acceptable in some European countries while in Australia and other places it would be seen as strange to come in a three piece suit
- For the ladies: Honestly ladies I’m not going to be too much help here. Make sure what you’re wearing is dark and formal. Conservative and businesslike should be your theme. Please avoid things like shorts skirts and knee length boots…I have seen these be viewed as quite negative before
Grooming is also important and guys seem to get this wrong far more often than ladies. Guys make sure you shave, smell decent and don’t look like you just rolled out of bed!
How should you act during your Investment Banking interview?
How you answer the questions during the interview can have as big an impact on the interviewer as the actual answers you give. The tips below will work in any investment banking interview so I’d keep them in mind if you are preparing for one
- Be energetic
- Investment bankers are typically tired and overworked
- It is always incredibly refreshing to go into an interview and see someone who has a lot of energy and who wants to do the job
- Speak slowly and clearly
- Nothing is more frustrating as an interviewer than having to ask a candidate to constantly repeat their answers
- You may think you are speaking incredibly slowly but it is all in your mind
- Do promote yourself
- Confidence is a big seller during an interview
- Be confident in yourself and your abilities and sell yourself for the job
- A lot of this comes down to practice. Have someone practice with you. Yes it will feel silly but if you want the job you need to be able to sell yourself during the interview itself
- Don’t be cocky
- While you need to promote yourself being cocky is one of the biggest turn offs you can imagine
- I have seen candidates wreck their chances by looking like they didn’t care what the interviewer thought of their answers
- Mirror body language
- Not everyone agrees with this particular strategy and it can be overdone but I have personally found it quite effective
- If the interviewer is engaged and leaning into the conversation you should do the same. If they are relaxed then you mirror.
- An interview will naturally go through periods of being engaged and being relaxed conversation so be aware of your body language
- Just be careful not to overdo it or to be too obvious that you are doing it in the first place
- Learn to read body language
- The fact is that the person interviewing you will want specific answers to most of the questions that they ask. You should be able to tell from their body language and expression whether you are nailing the question or whether they are confused by your answer or whether they just plain disagree with you
- Use this to your advantage
- Do not be afraid of silence
- Interviewees often hate silence and talk when they don’t need to
- Often the interviewer is not waiting for you to provide more detail to an answer – they are thinking about what you just said or are thinking of the next question
- Do not fill the gap with something you regret saying later…embrace the silence!
- Don’t be too serious
- No one wants to work with someone who is constantly serious!
- If the situation calls for it show that you have a sense of humour…this goes a long way!
Other general interview tips
In this section I will provide other tips that can help you through the interview day. These ones are not interview specific but can help you make a good overall impression
- Do not be late!
- This is an absolute killer and creates the worst possible impression
- If you are running late try and call ahead, apologise profusely when you get there and give the reason for being late
- Even if you do this you are still going to have left a less than favorable impression. I got stung by this in an interview and even though I had a really valid reason for being late it just put me on the back foot for the whole interview
- Be nice to everyone who is involved in the admin process when it comes to your interview
- Be nice to the HR person who sets up your interview and the receptionist when you arrive
- You may think it doesn’t make a difference but I’ve had HR give me a call and let me know that a person was an absolute nightmare to deal with…it does happen!
- Try to remember the name of the person interviewing you
- I’m terrible at names and I’ve been caught out by this one before
- Concentrate when an interviewer introduces themselves and thank them by name when your interview finishes
- It is the smaller touches like these which really polish an interview
Look most of the points I have gone through above are small points and failing on any of them (except maybe the time one) is not really going to disadvantage you too much but you’re trying to create an image, impression and picture.
You want to be seen as someone who is employable and would be an asset to the Investment Banking team. Do everything you can to create this impression and you’ll be well on your way to getting an Investment Banking job.
Do you have any more questions about Investment Banking interviews and how you should act in them? Post a comment below or shoot me an email…I’ll be happy to help out!