Posted on May 9, 2024

Securing a role in Investment Banking.

Securing a role in Investment Banking, particularly within a Big 4 Global Investment Bank, is pretty tough and quite often comes with a sprinkle of luck. As an example, last year, (in 2023), Goldman Sachs published a general acceptance rate of 0.33% with the internships being slightly higher at 1.27%. So, it’s a tough gig, and despite the daunting odds, the allure of navigating the financial world as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs remains unparalleled.

Our team have been involved in recruitment processes and partnered with renowned banks since our inception in 2018. That’s 2,000(+) 1st stage interviews we have been involved in each year. Here’s what to expect and what we recommend:

Probably the most important point, Preparation.

Exciting news – you've aced the initial screening, and your CV has caught the bank's attention, earning you a first-round interview opportunity. Remember, a first-round interview serves as another layer of assessment to sift through candidates. Approach it with this perspective in mind.

Preparation stands as the cornerstone of success. Dive deep into the background of the firm, the specific division, and department you're engaging with. Ideally, gather insights on your interviewers too. Interviewers seek candidates who resonate with the firm's ethos. Familiarise yourself with the firm's performance, stay updated on the latest developments, peruse recent articles, and understand the current buzz within the organisation.

  • Who are the key players that have recently departed or joined?
  • What notable market deals are in progress?

This knowledge will set you apart and demonstrate your genuine interest in the role.

Remain calm and collected

Some of the most uncomfortable interviews are when the candidate is visibility very nervous and/or flustered or someone who is unable to convey what they want to say clearly. Because of this it is quite easy to become frustrated for both parties and loose train of thought for the rest of the interview.

The best way to handle this potential devastating route is simply to take deep breaths and smile. If you picture yourself succeeding, you will arrive in the room with a positive attitude. ‘Power Poses’ or the box breathing technique has been proven to positively prepare your body language and calm your nerves in a natural way.

Be professional

The employee interviewing you wants to ensure you will be a good fit for the internal firm, and with this is mind they do not want to be responsible for hiring a candidate who doesn’t fit into the culture. Bare this is mind when you are entering the room. Enter the room with a smile, be courteous and be aware of your body language, making sure you are giving a warm and open approach.

It’s important that you also give a good impression in the way you are dressed, make sure you look the part. You will also give off an instant positive impression if you are professional in the way you speak, sit and position yourself. A book that comes well recommended to prepare yourself for interviews is ‘Why You’?

To aid your professionalism, come prepared with questions based on the role you are interviewing for. Specifically on the Investment Banking side, this could include:

  • How do you build a DCF?
  • How do you build an LBO?
  • How do you build a merger model?
  • What happens to an income statement when one company acquires another?
  • Demonstrate how you understand a cash flow statement.

Build rapport

The interviewee has seen your CV and there is most likely (and should be) details on the deals you have accomplished where you can delve deeper into the details, however this doesn’t demonstrate how you have built strong relationships with people.

When it comes to your interview, building rapport is crucial and should be accomplished as soon as possible. People gravitate to those who are similar to them or who are easy to build a connection with. It could be the university they attended, where they grew up, a favourite holiday destination or if they have any children etc. Finding things you both have in common will build a connection and you can sense what is important to them, ultimately making yourself more memorable and paving a way for a positive impression. While Pearse Partners can offer you further guidance on who you are meeting with, initiating authentic conversations, and asking relevant questions during the interview demonstrates a thoughtful and natural approach.

Ask questions

The best interviews are when the panel interviewing you can tell you are genuinely interested, therefore, make sure you have at least 10 questions prepared before you go into the interview.

We are not saying you must ask all 10, but being prepared will demonstrate that you are engaged, interested in the role and interested in them. People like to talk about their own and the firms’ successes, give them the opportunity to tell you all about it and this will also help you evaluate if the role is right for you.

Some industry questions can include:  

  • What is happening in the wider market both UK and Internationally.
  • Have an interesting article lined up that you can discuss.
  • Ask their opinion on how they see the market moving in the next H1/2.

Finally

The panel interviewing you will likely be speaking to 3-4 other people that same day and could be seeing up to 20 people that week during peak interview season. You want to be the individual that stands out and the one that is remembered… for all the good reasons! Some people see an interview as the interviewee asking all the questions and to a degree that is true, but you will be remembered if you ask relevant questions back and tell your story. Find the right opportunity to highlight why you should be hired and what you have accomplished so far. Interviewees like a narrative and will be genuinely interested and impressed with your achievements. To support the structure of this, we recommend using the STAR technique.

Working with Pearse Partners

Our team at Pearse partners are here to guide you through the full interview process. From first to final stages, from application to interview, to negotiation and beyond.

Engaging with Pearse Partners means you will have access to real people who care about who you are and what you want to achieve from your career aspirations. Throughout our inception we have made it our mission to always run processes with talent, experience, values and goals at the forefront.

In addition to our consultants being in the best position to advise on hiring trends, we also make it our daily ritual to seek up to date and accurate feedback on how the job market is behaving, the people movements across financial institutions and compensation trends which enables us to provide you with the information to be relevant in your job search.

Thirdly, we understand having feedback at every step of the hiring process is crucial. We will always personalise feedback and highlight where you can make improvements. If you are applying for a role with Pearse Partners, we will always provide you with an individualised service to ensure you are guided with helpful and specific information, every step of the way.