What to Expect with First Round Investment Banking Interviews

After the application process, the next step in the investment banking recruiting process for summer analyst and analyst roles is a first-round interview. This interview is usually a thirty-minute interview with a junior member of the team conducted on a phone call or a virtual face-to-face interview on an application such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The main objective for the firm is to select the best candidates for super day interviews.

Behavioral and Fit Questions

Thirty minutes is not a lot of time to present your candidacy for the role you are seeking, so it is important to provide answers that are succinct and dense. It’s important you demonstrate your motivation for the investment banking industry, understanding of the investment banking analyst role, the personal qualities that will make you a valuable member of the team, and your interest in the firm. After initial pleasantries, the interviewer usually provides an introduction about themselves and their time at the firm, and then turns their attention to you. A common way interviewers start is to say “tell me about yourself” or “walk me through your resume.” As the first half of the interview progresses interviewers tend to ask more questions that are intended to get into the aforementioned topics.

Technical Questions

The second half of the interview will typically include technical questions. Because first round interviews are initial assessments, technical questions will typically be more basic in nature. Among the most common questions are those about valuation methodologies, accounting and the three statements. Interviewers also may ask you to explain concepts such as free cash flow or enterprise value. If you are interviewing for a specific industry group, having a good grasp of recent news and major firms in that industry is expected.

There is no better preparation than to actually learn these concepts through real applications. The Adventis FMC Program, conducting valuation on stocks for projects or clubs, and case competitions are great ways to learn since you retain information better and can walk someone through the exact process of deriving a value from these analyses.

Asking Questions and Following Up

Towards the end of the interview, candidates are typically provided with an opportunity to ask questions. You should strive to have good questions that display an understanding of the industry and legitimate interest in the firm you are interviewing with. If your interviewer is very conversational, they may even take this time to talk more about your interests outside of work or school, which will take the pressure off of you and open the door for a memorable interview experience. At the end of the interview, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time. It’s also recommended to send an error-free follow up email.

Best Practices and Advice

You should expect to put in significant preparation for first round interviews. Since first round interviews are used to filter the best candidates for super day interviews, a good impression is critical. Not only does this come from the effective delivery of your answers, but also being able to hold a natural conversation and demonstrating active listening skills.

Make sure you find a quiet place to take the call that is free of distractions and background noise. If the interview is face-to-face virtually or in person, you should dress professionally. Some candidates prefer to dress up even if it is over the phone, to facilitate being in a professional state of mind, but that’s not necessary for all candidates. While interviewing, refrain from reading from a script, as this will likely be more obvious to the interviewer than you may think. Finally, act naturally and think of your interviewer as another human being wanting to know more about you.