Acing the Interview: Top 40 Questions Asked in Investment Bank Interviews

Are you preparing for an investment bank interview? Our article covers the top 40 questions asked in these interviews and provides expert tips on how to answer them.

Posted May 11, 2023

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Are you gearing up for a job interview in investment banking? Do you want to know the common questions asked by hiring managers during such interviews? In this article, we've got you covered. We'll take an in-depth look at the top 40 questions asked in investment bank interviews, as well as provide you with tips on how to prepare and ace the interview.

Why Preparation is Key for Investment Bank Interviews

Preparation is crucial when it comes to interviewing for any job, and it is no different for investment banking interviews. The interview process for investment banking roles is notoriously challenging, with hiring managers looking for candidates who possess not only the required technical and analytical skills but also excellent communication, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare thoroughly to succeed in the interview process.

One way to prepare for investment banking interviews is to research the company and the specific role you are applying for. This includes understanding the company's history, values, and recent projects, as well as the responsibilities and requirements of the role. This information can help you tailor your answers to the interviewer's questions and demonstrate your knowledge and interest in the company.

Another important aspect of preparation is practicing your responses to common interview questions. This can help you feel more confident and articulate during the actual interview. You can also practice with a friend or mentor who can provide feedback on your answers and help you improve your communication skills.

Understanding the Investment Banking Industry and Its Hiring Process

Before you proceed with job interviews, it's crucial to have a solid understanding of the investment banking industry and its hiring process. Familiarizing yourself with the requirements and expectations of the job description and the culture of the industry is necessary. You can network with professionals in the industry, conduct research, and read industry-specific literature to get a better understanding.

One important aspect to consider when pursuing a career in investment banking is the level of competition. The industry is highly competitive, and it's essential to have a strong academic background, relevant work experience, and exceptional communication and analytical skills. Additionally, having a strong work ethic and the ability to work under pressure is crucial in this field.

Another factor to keep in mind is the potential for long working hours. Investment banking is known for its demanding work schedule, and it's not uncommon for employees to work 80-100 hours per week. However, the compensation and career growth opportunities in this field can be significant, making it a popular career choice for many individuals.

The Importance of Researching the Company Before the Interview

Researching the company before the interview is critical to your success. Thoroughly understanding the company culture, values, mission statement, and recent developments can provide you with a competitive edge, which can impress your interviewer showing you are thoughtful and dedicated. It shows you are interested strongly in the company, making you stand out among interviewees.

Additionally, researching the company can also help you determine if the company is a good fit for you. By learning about the company's values and culture, you can assess if it aligns with your own personal and professional goals. This can help you make an informed decision about whether or not to accept a job offer if one is extended to you.

How to Craft a Winning Resume and Cover Letter for Investment Banking Roles

Your resume and cover letter are your introduction to the hiring manager. As such, it is crucial to craft a winning and distinctive resume. Your resume and cover letter should be visually appealing, succinct and tailored explicitly to the role in question. Be specific about your achievements and quantify them with data, if possible.

The Top 40 Most Commonly Asked Questions in Investment Bank Interviews

The following are the top 40 most commonly asked questions in investment bank interviews which you should prepare for:

  • Can you tell us about your background and experience?
  • What are your biggest strengths?
  • What are your biggest weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to work in investment banking?
  • What do you know about the investment banking industry?
  • Why are you interested in this specific bank or group?
  • What are the most critical skills for success in investment banking?
  • What role do you typically play in group projects?
  • What motivates you?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Tell me about a time when you exhibited leadership skills.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to overcome a challenge.
  • How do you handle stressful situations?
  • Why do you think you will be successful in this role?
  • What kind of management style do you work under?
  • What are some trends currently affecting the investment banking industry?
  • What distinguishes this specific investment bank from others?
  • Why did you choose your major?
  • Tell me about a time when you failed and what you learned from it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work as part of a team.
  • What do you think of the current macroeconomic environment?
  • How would you value a company?
  • What is your favourite accounting principle?
  • How would you explain financial statements to someone with no finance background?
  • What is your favourite stock and why?
  • Tell me about a company that you find interesting and why?
  • What is the difference between a bond and a stock?
  • What are accruals?
  • What is goodwill, and how does it affect financial statements?
  • What is the difference between EBITDA and net income?
  • What are some of the biggest risks facing the investment banking industry?
  • What is the difference between WACC and CAPM?
  • How do you value a company with negative earnings?
  • What is an LBO?
  • What are some of the key metrics you look at when evaluating a company?
  • What is the most significant deal the bank has done recently?
  • What are the upcoming challenges facing the investment banking industry?
  • What is your favourite book and why?
  • What is the most significant learning experience you've had?
  • Tell me about a time when you received criticism, and how did you handle it?
  • Can you clarify the difference between a private and public company?
  • Can you walk me through a DCF valuation?

Behavioral Questions: How to Showcase Your Skills and Experience

Behavioral questions are designed to gauge your past experiences and work behaviors. They are open-ended questions and ask you to provide examples from your work, academic, or personal life experiences. The key to answering these questions is to use the Star method (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) while focus on your soft skills acquisition.

Technical Questions: Demonstrate Your Knowledge of Finance and Accounting Principles

Technical questions are designed to test your analytical and critical thinking abilities, particularly in finance and accounting principles. Examples of technical questions include assessing a company's financial statements and valuing a company using the DCF (discounted cash flow) method.

Market-Sizing Questions: Evaluate Your Problem-Solving Skills and Business Acumen

Market-Sizing questions are hypothetical and aimed at testing your analytical and problem-solving abilities. Example of such questions include estimating the number of taxis in New York City or estimating the number of average traffic lanes available in a city. These questions are only asked to lateral experience roles or in later stages of the application process, but it is necessary to prepare for them.

Case Study Questions: How to Analyze Data and Present Recommendations

Case studies questions are hypothetical business scenarios that require critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. They usually require the candidate to analyze data and present recommendations. Examples of case studies include providing merger and acquisition recommendations, analyzing market entry strategies, or evaluating the feasibility of a new product launch.

Tips for Answering Tricky Interview Questions with Confidence

The key to answering tricky interview questions with confidence is preparation and knowing yourself completely. Anticipate the potential questions you may be asked and come up with responses that are authentic and highlight your strengths. Rehearse these responses and remember to breathe and relax before answering.

The Dos and Don'ts of Body Language During an Interview

Your body language also communicates a lot about your confidence, communication skills, and general attitude. Some tips on how to display excellent body language during an interview include sitting upright, maintaining eye contact, smiling warmly, and nodding.

How to Dress for Success in an Investment Bank Interview

When it comes to dressing for an interview, you should always dress professionally and conservatively. Men can wear a suit and tie and women can wear a formal pantsuit or a skirt suit. Avoid flashy accessories, shades, or attire.

The Importance of Following Up After an Interview

Following up after an interview is an essential tool to showcase your gratitude and professionalism to the interviewers. Send a brief email thanking the interviewer and reiterating your interest in the role.

Common Mistakes to Avoid During an Investment Bank Interview

Some common mistakes to avoid during an investment banking interview include arriving late for the interview, failing to make eye contact, displaying poor body language, appearing unprepared, interrupting the interviewer, and answering questions aimlessly without structure.

How to Handle Rejection and Learn from the Experience

Rejection is common in the application process for investment bank jobs. Handling rejection with grace and using the experience to improve your skills and inform your future applications is essential. Ask for feedback, reassess your qualifications, and apply for a similar job in another firm.

Preparing for Second-Round Interviews: What to Expect

Second-round interviews usually involve a more complex and deeper evaluation than the initial interview. The interviewer may ask difficult questions, and it is essential to prepare adequately for such interviews to improve your chances of landing the job. Preparation involves researching the company further and writing summaries of the interviews.

Negotiating Job Offers: Dos and Don'ts for Investment Banking Candidates

If you are extended a job offer, negotiations can be a delicate affair. Always remain composed, respectful, and confident. It may involve a negotiation of wages or position. Objective reflection, research of similar salaries, and thorough understanding of the incentives are crucial.

Alternative Career Paths in Finance if You Don't Get the Job

There are several alternative career paths in finance available if your investment banking job search is unsuccessful. These alternative paths include corporate finance, management consulting, asset management, private equity, hedge funds, or venture capital.


Acing an investment bank job interview takes research, preparation and practice. By following these tips and preparing for potential questions, you will be well-equipped to showcase your skills, experience, and passion for finance in any interview setting.

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