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You’ve done your research on the firm you’re applying to. You know your resume up and down. You’re prepared to pepper your interviewer with your strengths, your weaknesses, an example of a time you led a team, an example of a time you had to overcome an obstacle, a detailed description of a DCF model, your view on the current state of the stock market, and your take on the Fed’s current interest rate policy. Perhaps you’ve also prepared to speak about the recent financial crisis and the lessons learned as a result.
But what happens when your interviewer goes off-script and asks you an oddball question? Will you be able to rise to the challenge? How do you even prepare for whacky, out of the ordinary interview questions?
The short answer is you can’t, really. You simply have to be confident, cool, relaxed, calm, ready for anything and everything to come your way. Remember, interviewers want to know these basis things: if you can work hard, if you have an interest in the financial markets, if you can think through problems efficiently and intelligently, if you can communicate well and work well with colleagues and superiors, if you’d be enjoyable to work with and travel with, and if you can remain calm under pressure (when you’re working long hours and have to juggle several projects at once).
That said, below are nearly two dozen actual interview questions that Wall Street firms ask. All of the questions were provided to Vault by investment banking professionals who participated in the 2014 Vault Banking Survey, which closed today. (The results of the survey will be revealed later this summer when we’ll announce our new Banking Rankings, including the latest Vault Banking 50 and Banking Prestige Ranking.)
1. If you could pick one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would you choose and why?
2. If you were a chair, what kind of chair would you be?
3. What inspires you?
4. How would your favorite professor describe you?
5. How many pennies would fit into this room?
6. Pretend you're [our CEO], what three concerns about the firm’s future keep you up at night?
7. Integrity or authority?
8. How would you value the store on the corner?
9. If you had to rate risk, client satisfaction, and accuracy, which would you say is most important and why?
10. What motivates you in life?
11. Say you’re in a log cabin and are preparing to go hunting. You grab your rifle and walk outside. You see a bear and immediately follow in pursuit of it. You travel one mile north, one mile east, and one mile south. You’re back at the log cabin with the bear in your rifle's crosshairs. What color is the bear?
12. What’s your favorite book?
13. What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
14. Tell me something bad about [our firm]?
15. What country would you invest in? Why? Walk me through your analysis.
16. Walk me through how you would build a model to value members of the team.
17. What about your grandma would make it good or bad to lend to her?
18. How would you value this building?
19. How would you calculate the annual revenue of Alabama’s college football program?
20. In a crowded room discussing a problem, would you fit in? Why or why not?
21. What three traits define you?
22. What’s most important in your life?
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