What it takes to get a job with Investment Bank?

The true reality of bagging an investment banking job in the extremely competitive world is different and difficult.  Working with an investment bank is not like working in a technology startup wherein anyone can work and acquire skills over a period of time. These banks are traditional and conservative organizations thriving on values, passion and hunger for more money. Most top Wall Street investment banks want to recruit an intelligent, proactive, entrepreneurial and disciplined graduate. Excellent analytical and personal skills are a prerequisite for starting a prosperous career in a high paying investment banking job.

At investment banks, the candidate selection is a meticulously planned process. It includes application screening, online aptitude tests, initial telephone interview, assessment centre with further tests and even a senior partner interview. The whole selection process may last for several months. Practicing and preparing for aptitude tests such as SHL and Kenexa numerical reasoning tests will help you gain a better test score and pass the initial phase of the job recruitment process. Note that top academic degree is not enough. You should have an optimal combination of soft and technical skills. For example, significant programming background and experience will definitely help in securing your dream job at one of the top investment banks. Remember, you will be working in an extremely dynamic environment, with highly intelligent colleagues, high salary and commensurate responsibilities. Here are a few steps you can follow to get hired by an investment bank.

  1. Understand the industry

A majority of banks are inflexible when it comes to hiring graduates and they usually prefer candidates from top schools or universities because if you are not from the elite schools, you will have to show something extra about you that should make up for the “shortcoming”. Note that you will have to sacrifice your social and personal life to work long late night hours (close to 100 hours per week) for the bank, especially during the first three years. Therefore, understanding the investment banking industry before facing the job recruitment process is essential. The industry requires you to put in extremely long working hours that should lead to strong results. Banks also look out for people who engage in extra-curricular activities to relieve stress and get a new perspective about problems and tasks. Strong logical reasoning, abstract reasoning and verbal reasoning are also required to work efficiently in a bank.

  1. Prepare for the initial phase

The initial phase is usually in the form of online aptitude test – an effort to filter out “undeserving” applicants at a minimal cost. The throttling trouble faced by applicants is the difficulty to clear the verbal reasoning, logical reasoning and numerical reasoning tests. These aptitude tests determine the analytical and logical ability of the candidate under high time pressure. The HR managers believe that a high score in these tests reflects the candidate ability to quickly learn and adapt to challenging conditions as one will have to use his analytical and logical skills to deal with real life problems. And, whether or not you have a mathematical background, make sure to prepare for the SHL, Kenexa reasoning tests to help you prepare better for the upcoming assessment day.

  1. Tell your story

A plethora of graduates wants to enter the investment banking field because of money. However, this cannot be explicitly told during an interview, even if it is the truth. Displaying the finance spark is essential to win an offer. Tell them why you want to enter the tough field of investment banking and how you are a good fit for the job. Craft your story in a way it is authentic. Start from the beginning and entail how you developed an interest in this field. And, once you have understood what the banks are looking for, you need to persuade them that you possess all the desired skills and quality. In the end, you should be able to communicate the message that you possess all the skills to excel in such a profile. The story should be genuine and not filled with unrealistic stuff such as “it was my childhood dream” because investment banking is not everyone’s cup of tea.

  1. Build your resume

Investment banks require a different kind of resume and if you apply using a resume meant for a marketing job, you are sure to get rejected within seconds. Never bank upon the resumes or cover letters available online. Craft your resume in a way it reflects the financial and numerical ability instead of simple words.

For example, a candidate applied with the following line:

Developed a software which reduced the manual hours of employees at an organization

These lines sound as if the person is tech nerd. You can change it to:

Reduced the manual hours of employees by 25% resulting in a 10% increase in the ROI.

Giving specific number and analyzing the financial returns will help you create an impression as the same is done in the real world. You only need to sound ‘finance savvy’ and you will be successful in leaving an impression.

  1. Crack the technical round

One of the most difficult parts of the recruitment process is clearing the technical round wherein you are bombarded with finance terminologies which tests your financial aptitude. Technical questions are tough and can be answered if the concepts are clear. Additionally, if you vomit whatever you have read in a book, the interviewer will know it within seconds. Therefore, it is essential to inject some flavor to every answer you give during the interview. While preparing focus on accounting, modeling and valuation as these three areas are often tested. Apart from the technical questions, you need to stay at par with the recent deals completed in the industry as an interviewer may want to know your passion and enthusiasm about this field.

Whether you land up with an offer or not, leave no stone unturned while preparing for the interview process because you never know which stone will lead to a lucrative job profile at an investment bank. Portray your strengths, spin your resume, show your passion and increase your enthusiasm to grab a job offer.

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