Investment banking superdays explained

In Uncategorized | 6 minutes read

There are more urban legends on campus and online about the notorious investment banking superday than any other part of recruiting!

  • Did you know they do 4-1 interviews where the bankers each fire a new question at you every 30 seconds until you break down?
  • Did you know they make you attend late night dinners and then s-e-c-r-e-t-l-y observe how much you drink, how you handle your cutlery and what topics you talk about with fellow applicants?
  • Did you know they make you stay awake a full 24 hours to test out your staying power and then line up your most important interviews with the senior bankers for 8am the next morning?

Do these sound like the same old war stories you’ve been hearing on campus or in the deeeeeep daaaaark depths of online forums again and again?

Well, rest assured, they’re mainly total BS.

Just exaggerated versions of reality.

Sure, IB superdays can get pretty crazy and you can feel like the walking dead come days end.  But as long as you know what to expect and prepare accordingly you’ll be fine.

So in today’s fireside chat we won’t so much as step behind the curtain of superdays, as we will rip the f**king thing of its railing…time for you to get the truth!

—THE TRUTH ABOUT SUPERDAYS STARTS NOW—

First up, it’s important to know you will likely face a varied range of bankers from analyst level to MD.

But given you are within touching distance of a $100,000+ offer, the interviewer-sheet will be stacked towards the senior side, which means less junior bankers than first rounds and definitely no HR reps.

Numbers wise, you could face anywhere from as little as 3 interviews to as many as 7 (or more).

As you can imagine a true banking Superday can last anywhere from 3 hours to the good part of an ENTIRE day.  And sometimes they can even spill into the night (say hello to your first 18 hour work day).

But fear not…

Banks tend to err on the side of less is more, because it’s an insane logistical task to organize more than 5 interviews per student and overall it’s a surprisingly exhausting use of bank resources.

We are referring to senior bankers’ time here of course – not the $20 an hour analysts!

Also, note the sliding scale with respect to range, interviews and length; the bigger the bank and the recruiting drive, the greater the range/interviews/length.

No wonder BBs (bulge brackets) are the source of the infaaaamous Superday war stories then, as opposed to the middle market i-banks and lower end boutique investment banks.

***What type of interviews and interviewers will you face…and what the f**k type of questions are they going to hit you with?***

Different interviewers will be staffed with testing you on different things. This is often decided based on their level.

Consequently students can experience 40 minutes of technical questions when interviewing with Analyst Chuck Chuckford and 40 minutes of “Tell me about yourself” mind f**k questions during MD Larry Larryson’s hour of power.

Let’s break it down very clearly though…

The younger monkeys (analysts & associates) will throw down the technical questions gauntlet as they try to objectively assess you for brains.

Think McGee in NCIS.

If you’ve got some finance and accounting study or worse – a banking internship – under your belt expect to be pushed a lot haaaaaaarder than someone with a liberal arts major.

Meantime the graying apes (MD Larryson and the other BSDs) will go ‘fit’ and ‘you’ crazy as they try to answer the question;

“Would Richard make a strong member of the team and do I want to work with him?”

For this think Gibbs in NCIS.

But don’t forget Larry will also enjoy asking you (with a deadpan face);

“How many 128-slide pitch books would fit in a chartered Lear Jet to Greenland?”

In other words, interviews with the graying apes will often involve both technical and fit questions.  The Masters of the Universe will give you a taste of everything!

Finally, it’s worth noting that multiple interviews at the one bank can also overlap in both theme and the specific questions asked.

This is done on purpose.

Just like a computer-driven personality test, this process of repetition allows bankers to spot inconsistencies in your answers over time when they share notes at the end of the day.

Were you actually lying about your leadership experience at Chucky Cheese?  Either way they’ll find out.

What other factors will influence the questions?

The mood of the bankers believe it or not.

How they are feeling, what they would find interesting to ask and whether they’re bored of the same old questions from previous interviews that day.

This ***Banker ADD*** can in fact have more impact on your interview than anything else as bankers will go off-reservation at will in a desperate bid to keep themselves awake during a day of long and dull interviews.

As a student trying to break in I remember 2 bankers saying point blank;

“It’s been a long day, you don’t mind if we ask some different questions now”

…to which my internal monologue went “Yes, I would f*king mind, I’ve been prepping for the most common investment banking interview questions for months, and now you want to hit me up with some abstract shit about Qatari Oil Futures!!”.

Joking of course.

I was very much ready to talk about Qatari Oil Futures.

i.e. as an aspiring banker you need to be READY FOR ANYTHING and happy to answer any question.

But with all that said, 9 times out of 10 bankers won’t let their mood overtly affect the interview, because it’s generally just a lot easier for them to stick to the normal script of questions.

Instead, the ultimate factor effecting which interview questions bankers ask is YOUUUUU! (yeah you read that right)

Most obviously, your education and work background will influence how many technical questions get flung your way – a point you may think is unfair until you realize that as a fin/acc student you are several steps above a lib arts student already.

And of course the type of spot you’re going for – internship v analyst program.

The difference in questions asked between an investment banking analyst interview and a simple summer internship one, is obviously down to the difference in knowledge/skill requirements.

The script of questions will also get rewritten based on the first impressions bankers get from you and how you react to the first ten minutes of questions.

P.S. This lesson was extracted straight from our very popular Inside Investment Banking Course.  If you’re serious about breaking into banking, check it out now.

Screw financial modeling…you only need 6 skills to break into banking

If you’re an over excited wannabe Excel Monkey then you’ve probably tried just about everything to break in…from studying financial modeling till 3am to trying to memorize 100s of complicated technical interview questions.

But here’s the thing…

You’re wasting your time!  If you want to learn how to impress bankers, get interviews and land job offers straight out of college you simply need 6 skills.