Investment banking — and corporate finance in particular — is surely one of the most coveted careers for Bocconi students. With the recruitment season at its height, TiL brings you some advice on how to ace a job interview for corporate finance in this week’s #FinanceFriday column.
Making a good first impression is very important in every job interview. Do not wear weird clothing. A suit is more than enough to show how serious you are. You should try to smile, give a firm handshake and sit when the interviewer invites you to do so.
When you speak, remember to give short and concise answers, otherwise the interviewer will tire quite easily. Keep in mind that you are not the only candidate being interviewed on that day. When asked, make a brief presentation about yourself and your resume, but without rambling or speaking for too long. They are not interested in your whole life story.
Knowing the basics of corporate finance is imperative. A common mistake is to go unprepared thinking that you know everything. It is prudent to revise all the main issues you have studied in your corporate finance, accounting, corporate valuation and other similar courses. It is nearly a sure thing that you will be asked to evaluate something, explain the DCF model briefly and talk about the CAPM, multiples or the WACC. Do not recite formulas but show that you really know what they mean.
When answering a question you know an answer to, be confident about it. Do not use words that express doubt like “maybe”, “might” or “perhaps”. You have to show that you believe in what you know. If you do not know how to answer a particular question, do not simply state that you have no idea. Instead, try to say something like “’I am not certain but I can give an opinion”.
Knowing answers to theoretical questions will not be enough, though. You must be able to answer questions about the current sate of the markets. The interviewer will expect you to know what is happening in the world of finance not only in your country but worldwide. Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times are some of the great sources of relevant information. This weekly column might be useful as well.
Do your homework on the company you are applying to. Know the structure and their core values. Read about the industry and their main competitors. This will allow you to be more active in the conversation and to ask questions about their day-to-day activities. They will know you have done your research and you know what you are getting into.
Before the interview prepare one or two stories based on your experiences. Maybe you have worked before or perhaps you have participated in or helped to organize some extracurricular events. With these examples you should subtly show your character strengths, your skills and capabilities, while also reducing the tension during the interview. It would not hurt if talk about these in a witty manner.
What every candidate must keep in mind is that the interviewer should like you. You should avoid being an ordinary candidate. After a tiresome day full of applicants, you must make an effort so that you are among the ones that the interviewer remembers. But avoid being pretentious, vain or pompous. The people interviewing you will not like that.
Last but not least, consider the fact that coming from Bocconi also helps. Enormously!