“Tell me about yourself.” “What are your strengths?” “What are your weaknesses?”
Almost everyone is familiar with these types of traditional interview questions. However, that doesn’t mean you can get away with answers that are “one size fits all.” Each industry requires candidates to have a highly specialized skill set, so your responses should be tailored to highlight the key qualities employers are looking for in a new hire.
Top banking candidates are highly organized and professional. They thrive in fast-paced, deadline-oriented environments and work effectively with clients. Therefore, you need to show your interviewer that you have these attributes to so they know you have what it takes to succeed.
To help you ace your banking interview, here are five common questions you’re likely to see and how to answer them.
1. “What have you learned from your previous experiences in school/at work? How will those experiences benefit you in this position?”
This is not a trick question – employers simply want to know what you took away from your previous roles as a student or employee. When answering this question, remember that your interviewer has already read your resume, so listing your previous jobs verbatim is not the best approach.
Instead, try to focus on the skills you learned rather than the specific job you did. For example, if you worked in customer service for three years, you can connect the interpersonal skills you learned with being a team player, a skill that is important for investment banking. If appropriate, provide a short anecdote to help illustrate your point.
2. “Why did you decide to apply to our company?”
This is a commonly asked question for if you are applying for a bank teller role. There are a lot of financial institutions out there, so your interviewer will want to make sure that you are truly invested in their specific company.
If you already have an account with that particular bank, you can tell them that you’ve been pleased with their service and are eager to bring your own experience to the table. You could also mention a lesser-known fact about the bank. For instance, you could bring up how they’re a large sponsor of a cause you’re passionate about. Doing some research is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and interest in the company!
3. “How do you handle stressful situations?”
Anyone working in investment banking knows that it’s a fast-paced environment with many deadlines to meet. Therefore, your interviewer is probably looking for someone who is highly energetic, detail-oriented, and works well under pressure.
To demonstrate these qualities,try using this three-step approach to structure your response:
Skill – Start off by listing a skill or ability you have that helps you manage stress. For example, you could discuss how you prioritize and manage your time to ensure you finish assignments in a timely fashion.
Action – Once you’ve established a trait, it’s time to bring in the action. Discuss the specific measures you use to achieve your goals. Creating a prioritized schedule or to-do list is an excellent example of how one can effectively manage their time.
Effect – Lastly, you need to explain the “so what?” factor – how does creating a schedule help you meet deadlines? Was there a specific time where you were able to take on another task because you completed your assignments early? Or maybe your schedule allowed you to break up your work into more manageable sections? This is the time to take the opportunity to explain exactly how your actions contributed to your success.
4. “Why do you want to work in the banking industry?”
This question is usually asked so recruiters can get a feel of a candidate’s personality. Employers are looking for passionate and knowledgeable candidates to fill banking roles, so highlighting your interest is important. Think carefully about your answer – why do you want to work in the banking industry? Did you study finance in university? Did you intern with a bank one summer? Explain what sparked your interest in the industry.
There’s a good chance that the recruiter is also looking for red flags, i.e. reasons why they should not hire you. A response like “I want to work in banking because I like working 9-5” may suggest to an interviewer that you’re not very adaptable or open to going above and beyond to get the job done. Instead, highlight your personality with a response like this – “I want to work in banking because I thrive under pressure and love working with people.” – and then follow up with specific examples to support your statement.
5. “Explain how companies are valued.”
It’s likely that you’ll be faced with some kind of theory question in a banking interview. Many interviewers like to ask these types of questions because they help quickly identify the candidates with a strong technical background. This question in particular is definitely one you should research before entering an interview – questions like this one are straight out of the textbook, so make sure you spend time reviewing key concepts.