The Investment Banking hiring process is a mystery to those who are outside the system. The reason that blogs like this exist is because there does not seem to be a rhyme or reason why some people get selected for Investment Banking jobs whilst others miss out. Why do some people get all the interviews and some people get none…or even more baffling why do you get interviews at some banks and not others.
The confusing nature of the whole process gives rise to a lot of myths about the Investment Banking hiring process. Hopefully this post will demystify the process a little for you and give you some more insight into how candidates are selected for investment banking interviews.
Step 1: ALL applications are looked at by a human
There is no automatic screening process to knock out certain candidates. On forums I have seen people talk about how GPA’s below a certain score are automatically discarded. This is simply not true. It is true that people with lower marks are less likely to get an interview than people with higher marks however as I have mentioned before…marks are far less important than you may think.
The only ‘automatic exclusions’ that exist are for those who do not meet the legal requirements to be hired. If you do not have the requisite work or residence visas then your application will automatically get ditched. There is absolutely no way around this. Exemptions are not made and I have never known an Investment Bank to sponsor a work visa for a graduate. I know it is frustrating as an international student that you are not even considered but there is absolutely nothing the bankers can do about it.
Step 2: All applications are first assessed and screened by a selection of analysts
Although it is true that some investment banks use their HR departments to screen the applications for suitable candidates, the fact is that they will let almost anyone through their initial screen (the only people they tend to pick out are those without the legal requirements to work). The majority of the ‘real’ screening and assessment is done by second and third year analysts (first year analysts are almost never involved).
Is there anything you can do to give yourself a leg up knowing that it is an analyst looking at your resume in the first instance? Kind of…There are things you can control and things you can’t control when it comes to being selected by an analyst.
So what can you control?
- Analysts are super time poor…so make your application easy to read
- Reading applications is probably fun for the first 5 – 10 that you read and then it gets to be a pain in the backside. They do not want to spend ages looking for the information they want so make it easy to read and make the information they need easy to find.
- Analysts have been trained to be perfectionists…so proof read your resume
- I’ve written about this before but analysts can spot a formatting or spelling error a mile away. That’s what they are trained to do and they become very impatient with errors. When writing your resume make sure your formatting as well as your spelling and grammar are perfect
And what is out of your control?
- You cannot control who reads your application
- As obvious as it sounds you cannot control which analyst reads your application. Some are naturally more judgmental or are focused on different skills compared to others. To some extent it is just luck of the draw. I know how unsatisfying this may sound it is simply the way that it works
- You may also have the bad luck of getting someone who is just having a really bad day and you can bet that these people are not putting many applications through to the next round. Conversely you may get someone who sees something in your resume that they love and they give you the benefit of the doubt.
- Every analyst focuses on different areas of the resume
- To some extent you need a bit of luck for your resume to land on the desk of an analyst that appreciates your particular skill set
- Every resume is normally read by at least 2 analysts so your chances of finding someone that likes you are not impossibly low
Step 3: A shortlist of candidates is then passed onto the Associates and VPs in charge of recruiting
The shortlist will depend on the size of the office and the number of people to be hired. I worked for a reasonably small office and we hired 3 interns and 3 graduates into Investment Banking each year. The short list given to the Associates and VPs were normally 30 – 50 applicants long and the more senior bankers would whittle this down to a list of 20 – 25 to be interviewed. The junior bankers are not involved in this process at all and it is much the same as the process above. The lucky candidates will then be called in for an interview.
Don’t stress about how candidates are chosen for interviews. Once you have done everything that you can to make yourself appealing to investment bankers then it is out of your hands and is down to a bit of luck. Do you have any other questions about recruiting into Investment Banking? Post them below.