University Professor in Quant, Finance
and Business Psychology
Ex-Wall Street Banker and Arb Trader
International expertise at
UN Agencies and Multinationals
Psych masters NYU
Patient and helpful!
Make the interview interesting for the interviewer; most don’t want to be there. Do not prepare a rehearsed story, it sounds trite and common. Be honest and sincere, but dynamic and very curious. Answer the question asked specifically and quickly. Never say: I am a team player, I have good communications skills, or I think out of the box. It’s stupid, obvious and not unique. Suggested answers to typical questions follow.
WHY THIS COMPANY/INDUSTRY?
Sample responses for banking, consulting and marketing follow.
Banking/Consulting: I like the day to day work, for example I enjoy working with numbers, I enjoy writing and assembling presentations, so I will like the work of compiling exhibit books, presentations, analysis and meeting notes. I have an advantage, because the work is something I like to do.
Marketing: I like the day to day work, for example I enjoy researching new markets, developing compelling campaigns that influence target consumers, and I especially like mastering new communication medium. I have an advantage because the work is something I like to do.
WHY ARE YOU UNIQUE?
I am very considerate of other peoples’ feelings, but not in a weak way, instead in a way that allows me to be firm but thoughtful. It is not a common combination. Additionally, I am very good about keeping things confidential. I don’t repeat things that I shouldn’t, ever.
WHAT CAN YOU OFFER THIS COMPANY?
I am here to do tangible work product. That means delivering high quality Excel analyses, excellent written documentation, clear exhibits – things that clients and superiors can share and opine on to make decisions. Moreover, my presence and probing questioning style inspires others at all levels to try their best. I insist on it, but in a nice, curious way. My being here will therefore compel others to work at a higher level. I intend to contribute more than I receive and to make a significant, enduring contribution to this company.
WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR WEAKNESSES?
I feel very uncomfortable making small talk with others. Thus I am not good at networking at parties and large events. I feel uncomfortable there. But I compensate for it in smaller work settings such as meetings and presentations where I feel more comfortable. I can generally form good relationships with people I meet in a professional setting where we have chance to interact.
You must ask thought provoking, challenging questions that evidence genuine curiosity and a natural eagerness to learn. This excites and engages the interviewer in a mentally stimulating way. Suggested interviewee questions follow.
ON TALENT ASSESSMENT
Can you tell me about the most exceptional person you interviewed/hired/worked with at this level? What made them exceptional, what were their work habits? What were the indications in the interview that they would be this way?
REGARDING COGNITIVE SKILLS AND JUDGEMENT
What is most interesting for you about working here? When must you really use your brains and cognitive skills? Where must you use good judgment in the job?
What will the job be like, hour-by-hour, what are the expectations? What is the definition of an excellent job?
Don’t just say that you are smart and capable, prove it during the interview.
ANALYZE THE INTERVIEWER OR COMPANY
Suggest that you could analyze the interviewer – his/her personality and character based on the short meeting; it’s bold. Alternatively, provide insight on the company’s positives and negatives based on your time there thus far.
OFFER TO DO WORK
Offer to do a short project, analysis (Excel), market survey, mini-campaign. As an example, see in SEE ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES link below Advanta writeup done for hedge fund job.
ENGAGE INTERVIEWER IN INTELLECTUAL DISCUSSION
Engage them in an intellectual discussion, don’t bring everything back to CV; SHOW what you are really like – dynamic, engaging, curious, interested – so that at the end of the interview you can say “this is me, if you like it I am ready to start.”
DON’T CALL ON THE PAST MUCH
Stay in the present or future and prove your ability with good answers, analytical thought process, excellent questions and sincerity.