Ace Your Financial Analyst Interview

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When applying for a financial analyst job, get ready to spend huge amounts of time and energy polishing and customizing your résumé and cover letter — they’re the entry point to landing a job interview. But once you get the call to meet in person, that’s no time to relax.

Now the Real Work Begins

Recruiters and hiring managers are quick to note that too many job applicants don’t dedicate enough time preparing for the most important part of landing of the whole process: the in-person interview.

Fortunately there are ways to prepare. Here are some tips for acing the interview based on conversations with financial services recruiters and active hiring managers.

1. Know the company and sector inside and out. You’re applying for a research job, so you had better show that you actually took time to research the company and its place within the financial world.
Study the company and make sure you’ve covered all these areas:

-History

-Size

-Services

-Fields of expertise

-Any recent big deals or acquisitions

-Names and backgrounds of the chief executive and the people who will interview you

-Recent press releases and any other up-to-date news about the firm

It’s all readily available via Google, Wikipedia, Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg, government regulatory agencies and other sites. While you’re at it, talk to friends, relatives and acquaintances who might be knowledgeable about a company — or at least its reputation.

2. Tailor your answers. Don’t treat financial analyst jobs as cookie-cutter positions automatically transferrable from one finance sector to the next — they’re not. Research the specific sector and expertise of each company you interview with and be prepared to tailor your responses so they’re a match.

3. Draw up a mental list of your strengths and weaknesses. It’s corny, but you’ll almost inevitably be asked a variation of “So, tell me your greatest strength,” or “What’s your biggest weakness?” Similar inquiries include: “Tell me your greatest success at a job,” or “What was your biggest mistake while on a job?” Create a list of what you think are three or four of your strengths and a few of your weaknesses.

4. Assemble a portfolio. To support your answers, review any past examples of research reports or other business assignments you’ve done as an intern (or as a junior analyst if you’re applying for a senior analyst position). Analyze the specifics of those particular cases, and be prepared to answer detailed questions about them. Bring the reports — along with any accolades from supervisors or teachers — in an organized portfolio to the interview.

4. Plan to talk about life experiences and career goals. Be ready for discussions about your career goals, college major, extracurricular activities, summer jobs, post-college jobs (if any) and other items on your résumé. One investment banker says he also likes to hear from candidates about non-business successes they’ve achieved in life. “I’ll say, ‘Tell me one thing you’ve really mastered and are good at.’ It can be music or painting or running road races. We want (to hire) someone who has already proven they’ve done something really well.” And whatever you do, be confident but not cocky.

5. Be able to explain why you want the job. One commercial mortgage banker, who asked not to be named, says he carefully explores a financial analyst candidate’s knowledge of his industry and why they specifically want to get into commercial real estate. “I want to find out if they’re serious about getting into (the field) and so I’ll ask them, ‘So, why aren’t you applying for a financial analyst job on Wall Street? Why are you here?’ ”

You’d better have an honest answer — with details about the type of financial company and position that you’ve applied for.

6. Be prepared for spontaneous tests. The same investment banker says he’ll sometimes verbally outline a general business scenario, such as one firm trying to buy another firm, and asks candidates, “So why would someone want to buy such a company? How would you go about researching that company?” Such “tests” are not meant to be trick questions. They’re meant to see how you might react and approach a problem.

If you’re working with a recruiting company to land a financial analyst job, they’ll often subject you to a number of assessments before you head out to an interview, says Richard Deosingh, a recruiter at Robert Half in New York. Recruiters might test how well you know Excel or if you can efficiently organize spreadsheets, for instance.

During interviews, companies rarely ask candidates to physically prove they know how to use Excel, PowerPoint and other software programs needed to conduct, analyze and present data in research reports. But they may ask you detailed questions about the programs or how you’ve used them in the past.

7. Ask questions that show your interest. Interviewers almost always invite questions from candidates. This is another chance to be personable and demonstrate interest in the job, so have a list ready in advance.

Some questions to consider include:

-What’s a typical day like for a financial analyst at this firm?

-What type of clients will I work with?

-Would I specialize in a specific field of interest?

-How did you (the interviewer) get his or her start in finance?

-What are the prospects for promotions?

Preparation is key. Practice, get your story straight — and you’ll be on your way to crushing the interview.

Jay Fitzgerald is a business journalist based in Boston. Over the years, his articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, the Boston Business Journal, the Boston Herald and other publications.

 

“Have You Ever Been Fired?”

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For some, the question “Have you ever been fired?” can inspire a pit in the stomach when the answer to that question is “Yes”.  You may be among an unfortunate bunch who had a horrific experience at a company (or with a certain coworker or boss), that did not end well.  And whether your termination was your fault or not, it can continue to haunt you in your search for future prospects.  So what is the best way to field this tough issue?

Be Honest

First things first:  don’t lie.  It may be tempting to dismiss the topic altogether, hoping that the company you’re interviewing with never finds out – but what happens if they do?  If they find out during the interview process, you’re certain not to get the job.  And if they find out a few years down the line, no matter how great an employee you are, they may still decide to let you go.  A second termination is not what you want on your record, so do yourself a favor and be upfront and honest from the get go.  It’s much safer, and you’ll stress about if far less in the long run.

Provide Some Context

Explain the circumstances surrounding the incident.  If it was a conflict of interest, let the interviewer know.  If it happened 15 years ago, tell them that you now have a lot of distance from the incident and that your stellar work performance since then speaks for itself.  If it occurred in the more recent past, explain that you have learned quite a bit from the incident, but don’t spend your time making excuses.  Lay down the facts, and focus on what you’ve done since and will do in the future to demonstrate that you are a valuable employee who understands what it takes to be an asset to a company.

Don’t Give Away Too Much

While it’s important to be forthcoming in your response to this question, you also don’t want to spend too much time addressing the matter.  Keep the focus of the interview on what makes you the ideal person to hire, and spend as little time as you can conveying what the interviewer needs to know about that particular incident.  People who feel the need to defend themselves tend to over-explain, and this can portray lack of confidence and lead you down the wrong road.  Certainly stray away from speaking ill of your former boss or company, remaining as objective and succinct as possible.

No one likes getting fired and everyone wants to find a new job.  Don’t let one obstacle in your past set the tone for the rest of your career.  Concentrate on what you need to do to land your next job and on the reasons you’re a perfect fit for it, and the rest will follow.

Have a wonderful day,

The Doostang Team

10 Likely Interview Questions, and How to Answer Them

Anxious about an upcoming interview? No need to worry! If you do your company research, and practice your answers to some common interview questions in advance, you will be ready to handle anything that comes your way.  Set aside time to prepare for each interview, and you will be confident and poised on the big day.

Here a few common interview questions, and tips for how to answer them:

1. Tell me about yourself.

This question intimidates most job seekers, but it is a great opportunity to talk about your strengths and what sets you apart from other candidates. A strong answer will set a positive tone for the interview, and grab the interviewer’s attention. You know this question is coming, so prepare for it in advance, and your interview will be off to a great start.

2. What do you know about the company?

This is one of the easier questions you might be asked, as long as you are prepared to answer it. Do your research. Visit the company website, search for news mentions, and check out all of their social media accounts.  Make your answer personal. Don’t spout off facts you found online; explain what you like about the company and why you want to work there.

3. What is your greatest strength?

This is your opportunity to stand out from other applicants. The strengths you mention need to be relevant to the position, and you should provide specific examples of how you used them. Your strengths can be both personal and professional attributes, as long as they help prove why you are the ideal candidate for the job.

4. What is your greatest weakness?

Be honest. You don’t have to discuss all of your flaws, but focus on one or two things you could improve. Explain how you plan to address your weakness, and ways you can turn it into a strength. Don’t mention anything that will automatically disqualify you (for example: don’t say you’re bad with numbers if you want an accounting job), but be realistic about your abilities.

5. Describe a challenge or conflict you faced at work, and how you handled it.

Think of a specific challenge or conflict that was unique to you. A vague answer about having to balance projects will your bore your interviewer, and make you look unqualified.  Your answer should reflect your problem-solving skills and adaptability.

6. What is your dream job?

This question helps the interviewer determine if you are a good fit for the position. If you’re interviewing for a financial analyst position, don’t say you’re planning on applying to med school in the near future.  The job duties should align with your future goals.  Even if the position you are applying for is just a stepping stone for the job you really want, focus on why you would be a great addition to the team.

7. Why are you leaving your current job (….or Why did you quit your last job)?

Stay positive. Avoid saying anything negative about your current or previous employer when possible  Express enthusiasm for the position you hope to get, and indicate why you are a better fit for this role instead of the one you currently or previously had.

8. What do you like to do outside of work?

While your technical skills and work achievements are important, so is cultural fit. Always stay professional when discussing your personal life during an interview, but don’t be afraid to show your personality. Your unique hobby might impress the hiring manager, and you will connect over any shared interests.

9. What are your salary requirements?

Benchmark. Set a range. Be flexible. This is a tough question to answer, and one of the most important ones for the candidate to get right. Be prepared to explain how you reached your number (or ideally, your range), and to defend your answer.

10. Do you have any questions for us?

Yes! You should always ask questions at the end of the interview. Asking relevant, thoughtful questions will prove that you are truly interested in the position. Think of a few questions before your meeting, and be ready to adapt them based on the interview.

Good luck at your next interview, and don’t forget to follow up with the employer!

Why Your Resume Won’t Get You Hired

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You have been working very hard at your resume and cover letter, posting them online and mailing them out. Yet nothing is happening for you. There have been no phone calls to request interviews; not even a phone interview. You realize the economy is not 100%, but it’s not that bad.

You really are qualified and your experience is extensive. Why are you getting passed over and not getting hired? You have excellent performance appraisals and recommendations. All of this is on your resume. Where is the disconnect?

What’s Wrong With My Resume?

  • Outlandish Objectives

Most professional resume writers would tell you not to include an objective at all. If you need to put something at the top of the page, make it an overview of your skills. Don’t write an objective that sounds like you can walk on water and solve every problem a company might have. Don’t use code words like ‘seasoned professional’. Everyone knows that means you have been in the workforce a long time. Don’t make it sound like you will just be using this job to get to the next one.

  • Experience that is Irrelevant

Do not list jobs that have no relevance to where you are in your career now. Do not list part time jobs unless you have never worked full time. Unless you are applying for an entry level position don’t list your high school job at McDonalds.

  • Faux Achievements

Achievements are important, really important. However, they need to be real and they need to be relevant. If you won the Betty Crocker Homemaker Award in high school, it is not relevant. If you won an honors scholarship in college that may be relevant. However, it is not relevant if you have been out of college and in the workforce for 20 years.

Relevant achievements are the money you saved your company last year. Don’t say “I saved money.”  Instead say, “Cut department’s expenses by 34% , saving the company over $50,000 in 2013.” These are the kind of achievements you want on your resume.

  • Pictures

Some people are advocating putting a picture of yourself on your resume. This is a very European thing to do and most American hiring managers will either not care or be put off by it. Play it safe. No pictures on your resume.

  • Personal Stuff

Don’t put any personal information on your resume. Don’t say you are married or divorced. Don’t say you have 3 children. Religion, political affiliation, or anything else that is purely personal does not belong on your resume and could be held against you. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate based on most of these things. That is why they will not ask you about them in the interview. Don’t volunteer the information.

  • Inappropriate Email Address

You do want to list an email address where the company can contact you. However, if the only email address you have is partynow@partydown.com, then get a new one. Use a Gmail or Yahoo address with your name or initials. Make it professional. This one item at the very top of your resume might be the one thing that costs you an interview.

  • Negative Comments and Stressing Weakness

Don’t offer negative comments or stress your own weaknesses. Don’t point out gaps in your employments unless you can explain them. Don’t ever state that you were fired from a job. Never make negative comments about a previous company or a previous boss.

Avoid these mistakes that will keep you from being hired.

About the Author: Gerald Buck is the editor of ejobapplications.com, a site offering job applications and resourceful information. He is passionate in providing advice to those seeking job opportunities.

3 Interview Misconceptions

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Photo Courtesy of Getty Images.

When it comes to the job search process, job seekers often have false impressions about how things work.  The interview is no exception, and understanding a few common misconceptions about the process can help you do a much better job – and hopefully put your mind at ease!  Read on for 3 big interview myths:

The Most Qualified Candidate Gets the Job

Okay, this is untrue for a myriad of reasons, with jobs going to individuals who know people on the inside, to those who simply reach out at the right time, and so on.  Bear this in mind during your interview, because it’s important to understand that you need to be professional, personable, and on your A Game at all times.  You can be the most fabulous job candidate on paper and in reality, but if you don’t bring confidence to the table, the job could go to someone who had better people skills and impressed the interviewer.  Conversely, if you know your resume may be lacking in certain areas, make up for it by giving a winning interview.

The Interviewer is Prepared for…the Interview

There are several reasons why an interviewer may not be prepared for an interview.  For example, this could be their first time interviewing a candidate and they may be nervous.  Or they could be bogged down with extra work – perhaps the reason they are hiring someone in the first place – and so they haven’t devoted proper time to preparing for the interview.  Thus, the more prepared you are, the easier the interview is for everyone, and the better impression you create.  Decide what you want to tell the interviewer beforehand, and do your best to find ways to mention your past achievements and what you can bring to the table.

The Interviewer will Ask All the Necessary Questions

Again, the person interviewing you might be distracted and might miss some important points. Or you might be speaking with a hiring manager who doesn’t know as much about the job as the person you will be working for, so the interviewer may not ask all the appropriate questions.  Thus, it is your job to bring up skills and qualifications you have that are specifically pertinent to the job, so that the person interviewing you can report these back to the individual who makes the final decision.  If they are the person who makes the final call, make the choice easier for them by addressing every aspect of the job description in a way that paints you as the perfect candidate.  There may be things that you want to bring up that the interviewer never asks about – if this is the case, don’t brush them aside.  Find ways to work these points into the conversation.

Interviews can be nerve-racking for individuals on both sides of the table.  And at the end of the day, an interviewer is just another human being.  If you can enter the conversation confident, prepared, and personable, you’re sure to impress.

Prove Your Best Skills During an Interview

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HOW TO PROVE YOUR BEST SKILLS DURING AN INTERVIEW

Whether you’ve recently entered the job market or you’ve been in the workforce for a while, when it comes to looking for a new job, preparation is key for interview success.

As you prepare for job interviews, you want to market your strengths and skills that make you the best candidate for the position. Every job interview is different, but one thing you can do is set yourself apart by selling your strengths. According to CBN.com, only 80 percent of job seekers can prove their skills to employers during job interviews. How can you prove your best skills during the interview?

Use accomplishment stories to illustrate your skills.

The best way to prove your skills during an interview is to use accomplishment stories to support your abilities and expertise. The goal of the interview is to clearly articulate your strengths to the employer. Use examples from prior work and internship experience where you had to apply your technical skills. When explaining your story, tell the interviewer how your expertise created success for your organization. This will help you sell your strengths and provide the interviewer with an idea of what you can accomplish as an employee.

Include your best work in your portfolio.

Your portfolio is another way to highlight your strengths during a job interview. When building your portfolio, it’s important to include your very best work to help you market your strongest skills. It’s also a good idea to include examples that support some of the accomplishment stories you’ll share during the interview. This way, you’ll be able to provide the interviewer with tangible examples of your work.

Never underestimate your abilities. 

Confidence is key when it comes to proving your strongest skills during a job interview. The best way to be confident during an interview is to make sure you include skills in your resume and cover letter that you can translate into accomplishments. By doing this, you won’t have to worry about explaining a skill that really isn’t one of your strengths. You want to make sure you can feel confident about your skills, so focus on your strengths and never underestimate those abilities.

Don’t forget to sell your soft skills.

Your soft skills are the qualities that can set you apart from other candidates during the job interview process. Whether you’re changing jobs or re-entering the workforce, your soft skills are the strengths your can transfer between different positions. Employers look for candidates who are strong communicators, leaders, and team players in the workplace. If you can demonstrate those qualities during an interview, the hiring manager is surely to be impressed with the soft skills you have to offer.

Remember, proving your strengths during a job interview means explaining how you can help the company or organization achieve success. If you fail to explain what makes you the best candidate for the position, then the employer will lose interest. Allow your strengths shine through with your confidence and, by doing this, you will be able to prove your best skills during your next job interview.

What are your tips for selling strengths during an interview?

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at Come Recommended.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How Should I Follow Up After an Interview?

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You had a great interview, and you’re anxious to get an offer—now what?  Following up with the employer is essential. If the company took the time to meet with you, then you’re a qualified candidate and the employer will appreciate your interest in the position. Your follow up is a great opportunity to make any points that you forgot to mention in the interview, and remind the hiring manager why you are a great candidate.

FIND OUT WHAT’S NEXT

When you’re wrapping up the interview, find out when the company expects to make a decision about second interviews and/or filling the position. You should always ask questions during an interview, and understanding the company’s hiring process is essential for making the appropriate follow up.  If you don’t hear from them by the timeframe they give you, you can contact them again to find out their hiring status. Make sure you have the necessary contact information before leaving the interview.

ACT QUICKLY

Send your follow up e-mail and/or letter ASAP. Some employers may be in a hurry to fill the position, and you want to be at the top of their list. Don’t send a generic note; follow up with specifics from the interview, and indicate why you are interested in the job.  If you interviewed with multiple people, reach out to them individually. Thank them for their time, and express your enthusiasm for the position.

Laurie Berenson, President and Founder of Sterling Career Concepts, LLC, offers the following advice to job seekers:

“The most effective follow up letter is not simply a thank for the meeting, but rather a letter that addresses any gaps or concerns that the interviewer may have from your conversation and reiterates why you feel you are a strong candidate for the role. The best way to do this to pull detail in from your conversation to substantiate. If you feel that you could have addressed a question better during the interview, this is your opportunity to do so.”

TRY AGAIN

Be persistent, without being too aggressive.  If you haven’t heard back during the expected timeframe, send a quick follow up e-mail:

Hi Mark,

You mentioned that you expected to make a decision on the Account Executive position by the end of the month, so I wanted to check in with you.  I’m still very interested in the role, so please let me know if I can provide any additional information, or if you have any updates on your hiring timeline moving forward.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Beth

If you reach out via e-mail and don’t get a response, try leaving a voicemail.  Laney Lyons, author of Don’t Be A Yes Chick!, says “A candidate should follow up from an interview by email, phone and mail unless specifically instructed otherwise. Every hiring manager or business owner responds to mail, email and phone calls differently so you want to follow up using all three methods.“

Don’t harass the employer, but make it clear that you are serious about getting the job.

STAY POSITIVE

Always be friendly and professional when reaching out to a potential employer. You may be frustrated if you aren’t getting a response, but you could still be a potential candidate. Double-check your e-mails for any grammatical or spelling errors. Even if you are no longer being considered for the position you interviewed for, there might be other opportunities or future openings at the company and you want to remain in good standing.

Rebecca West, Owner and Principal Designer at Rivalee Design, agrees: “I also highly recommend sending a thank you when you do not get a position you really wanted. Something short, gracious, and positive can open up a door to another opportunity, either at that company, or by being referred to someone else looking for a great employee.”

What other follow up steps would you suggest?

 

What Questions Should I Ask in an Informational Interview?

25 Questions to Ask in an Informational Interview

The informational interview is one of the most underrated networking techniques. You can meet someone new in your industry, at a company where you’d like to work, or someone higher up in your own company and learn some truly valuable insight for your own career. It’s all about building a relationship with the other person. If it goes well, you may even land a new career mentor.

Informational Interview

Image Credit: Job Interview from Bigstock

Unlike a job interview, in an informational interview you will be asking all the questions. Once you decide your goals for the meeting, make a list of questions you’d like to ask. If you don’t know where to start, here are 25 examples of questions to ask when conducting an informational interview:

Ask questions about their career.

  • How did you land your current job? How did you get to where you are?
  • What do you do during a typical day/week? (If they say every day is different, ask them to describe any recent day they had.)
  • What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
  • What do find most enjoyable?
  • What is the culture like at your company?
  • What do you like most about your company?
  • What do you like least?
  • How has your job affected your lifestyle?
  • How is your company different from similar ones?
  • What is job growth like at your company?

Ask questions about the hiring process in their company.

  • What entry-level positions are available in the industry?
  • What kind of experience would you look for when hiring?
  • If I were applying for a job with you, how would you assess my experience so far?
  • What would make me stand out as an applicant?
  • Do you recommend I join any professional organizations?
  • What are some important keywords to include in my resume?
  • What do you wish you knew when you were in my position?

Ask questions about sharpening your own skills.

  • What hard skills are important for your job?
  • What soft skills make someone excel in this industry?
  • What courses would you have taken in college if you could have?
  • How do you stay updated on industry trends?
  • What industry blogs or publications do you read?
  • Who do you follow on social media?

Wrapping up the interview.

  • Is there anyone else you can refer me to talk with?
  • Do you have any last advice as I enter the job search?

There are hundreds of questions you could ask in informational interviews. Find out how much time you will have with the person and write a list of questions with your most important ones first, so you have enough time to hit them all.

Whatever you decide to ask depends on what you want to get out of the experience. Think about your job search and career goals. Because an this interview is not the same as a job interview, you need to think about the long-term. Build a relationship.

What are some other good questions for informational interviews?

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at Come Recommended.

Do Your Homework: I-Banking Interview Prep

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Everyone says I’m expected to “do my homework.” What exactly does this mean? How much will I be expected to know about each company with which I interview?

First and foremost, “doing your homework” means that you genuinely understand the role of an investment bank and can clearly articulate the distinct roles of its various functions and that you have devoted some time to distinguishing among the major players. It means you’ve considered all of this information and shaped an idea of which firm you’d like to work for, and in which general area. It means that you’ve developed reasonable job expectations, done some good old-fashioned soul searching to decide whether or not the inherent sacrifices are worth it to you, and determined the specific benefits you’d hope to gain from the analyst or associate experience.

The homework bar is higher at the MBA level than it is at the undergraduate level. In general, interviewers are more forgiving of analyst candidates for two primary reasons: First, no one expects a 22-year old interviewing for his first job to know for certain that his destiny lies in investment banking. Second, investment banks typically hire analysts for a two- to three-year time horizon, after which they expect many will go on to business school or other jobs. Nonetheless, firms will expect that both undergraduates and MBA candidates alike can articulate solid reasons for pursuing a job in the field, and they will expect to see evidence that you’ve invested some serious time determining whether this career-and this firm in particular-is right for you.

Regardless of the specific position for which you are applying, “doing your homework” has two primary components: understanding what distinguishes the firm in its industry, and understanding what distinguishes the firm as a place to work. The first of these relates to the firm’s position in the financial marketplace, while the second has to do with its “employment brand”-the unique way the firm positions itself to prospective employees.  Our Seven-Step Homework Guide should help you to learn about both distinctions:

1. PARTICULARLY IF YOU’RE AN UNDERGRADUATE WITH LITTLE PRIOR EXPOSURE TO INVESTMENT BANKING, MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT AN INVESTMENT BANK DOES AND HOW THE VARIOUS FUNCTIONS OF A SECURITIES FIRM FIT TOGETHER.

We’d recommend that you start with WetFeet’s Insider Guide to Careers in Investment Banking. Mariam Naficy’s book The Fast Track: The Insider’s Guide to Winning Jobs in Management Consulting, Investment Banking, and Securities Trading also provides an excellent overview. As the name implies, this book is a particularly good resource for those candidates comparing potential opportunities in multiple areas.

2. ONCE YOU’VE DETERMINED WHICH FIRMS YOU’LL BE INTERVIEWING WITH, CHECK OUT ANY FIRM SPECIFIC LITERATURE YOU CAN FIND.

This includes the WetFeet Insider Guides to investment banking firms (see the list at the end of this book), which provide insights into the firms’ areas of relative strength and insiders’ perceptions of the companies’ culture. In addition, be sure to review any recruiting literature on file at your campus career center. This information is likely to be general, but it will provide a useful overview of each firm’s organizational structure and respective recruiting processes. Also, these materials will give you a general sense of the “employment brand” that the firm is trying to convey-in other words, you’ll get a sense of how the firm distinguishes itself from other firms in the marketplace that compete for talent.

3. CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE OF EACH FIRM WITH WHICH YOU’LL BE INTERVIEWING.

This does not mean that you’ll be expected to memorize and regurgitate either the company’s financials or its business principles in the course of the interview. However, if you’re interviewing with a public company, at least take a gander at the firm’s annual report (generally available through the Investor Relations section of the firm’s website). In addition to providing detailed information on the company’s financials, the annual report highlights the key transactions in which the bank was involved over the course of the previous year and summarizes the relative performance of each of its major revenue-generating areas. Also, check out the most recent press releases for any noteworthy developments that have taken place since the last annual report went to press.

4. REFINE YOUR INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC KNOWLEDGE AND REVIEW THE MAJOR TRANSACTIONS IN WHICH EACH FIRM IS INVOLVED.

Trade journals such as Institutional Investor, Investment Dealers’ Digest, and The Daily Deal provide a wealth of timely industry-specific information. For example, Investment Dealers’ Digest (www.iddmagazine.com) offers an excellent online database for subscribers, which includes league table information, recent deal flow activity, and information on the biggest transactions in various areas (M&A advisory, high-technology, energy, etc.). Unfortunately, an annual subscription to this little gem costs a hefty $995, but full-text articles from the print publication are available through Factiva, a comprehensive online news database; if your business school library offers Factiva access (and it’s worth checking into), you may want to take a look. If not, Investment Dealers’ Digest occasionally offers trial subscriptions at little to no cost. In all likelihood, you won’t ever be asked about a particular bank’s league table standings, but it doesn’t hurt to develop a sense of who does what on the Street.

5. KEEP ABREAST OF CURRENT EVENTS-THOSE RELATING TO THE FINANCIAL MARKETS AND OTHERWISE.

Even if you’re not ordinarily a faithful The Wall Street Journal reader or subscriber, it may behoove you to become one, at least during the recruiting season. The publication’s online edition is particularly user-friendly and is available to students at a significant discount (as is the print version). The Financial Times (WSJ’s European equivalent) is another excellent source of financial news and not surprisingly provides a more pronounced international focus than the The Wall Street Journal. At a minimum, know the major developments and trends characterizing the investment banking industry. In particular, the increasingly widespread practice of “bundling” investment and commercial banking services and the intense scrutiny over firms’ investment research franchises are two trends you should feel comfortable discussing in an interview. Also, be sure to have at least a general sense of movements in the major indices (investment banking interviewers have been known to ask what the Dow closed at the previous day) and the events that most directly affect the financial markets.

6. ATTEND THE ON-CAMPUS INFORMATION SESSION.

Trust us: The hour that you spend at each firm’s on-campus meet-and-greet will be time well spent. At the information session, the company will undoubtedly address the topic of what sets it apart from its chief competitors-its competitors for business and its competitors for talented people. Pay attention to what the firm’s representatives stress as its key selling points: whether it’s the firm’s untrammeled dominance of M&A activity, its unique rotation program for incoming analysts or associates, or its unparalleled reputation as an employer of choice. In addition, these information sessions provide an opportunity for you to meet current analysts and associates and to hear them answer the questions that you’ve been formulating throughout the course of your research.

7. TAKE THE TIME TO SPEAK WITH INSIDERS!

There’s really no substitute for good old-fashioned informational networking (a process which should be relatively easy for current MBA students, who have a considerable network of b-school students, former analysts, summer associates, and alumni to consult). If you’re an undergrad with fewer
industry contacts, check out your career center’s alumni database for the names and contact details of current firm employees (preferably within the division to which you’re applying). At the very least, contact the individuals who represented their firms at the on-campus information sessions (analysts and associates, please-firms may send VPs and the occasional MD to information session, but bankers at this level aren’t likely to return your call-remember our discussion of the hierarchical structure earlier in the guide?). Not only can these individuals generally answer your most pressing queries, they can typically put you in touch with other people at the bank who can provide you with a broader perspective on what it’s like to work there. Not only will this help you learn about the specifics of each firm’s culture, but it will give you some real-life insight into the life of an analyst or associate.

Make no mistake: Preparing for interviews is a time-intensive process. If your schedule is already filled to capacity with academic and extracurricular obligations, it’s particularly tempting to gloss over interview preparation in favor of the more immediate demands on your time and attention. This is a dangerous trap, and one that you should avoid at all costs. In this case, it’s better to take a long-term view. As one recently hired insider advises, “Take a light course load that semester if you can. The time you spend researching companies and talking to insiders is time well spent, and definitely worth the investment in the end.”