"Walk Me Through Your Resume" for Investment Bankers | BankingPrep

People usually think that when it comes to an investment banking interview, them candidates will have to deal with critical and big numbers or financial models. But what if I say to you that you also have to prepare a writing form, or one thing that’s way more of literacy, and this part is even considered one of the most “dead or alive” part in the interview.

Do you believe it?

A lot of people could not. Even you now may wonder what part it is, scanning all over your brain for every possible tips, tricks, and information on the investment banking interview you’ve been told, or learned somewhere else.

Well, if you haven’t found that piece of information in your learning memory yet, chances are no one has ever told you this critical investment banking preparation step.

“WALK ME THROUGH YOUR RESUME”, not “Read out loud your resume”

Think, why do the interviewers need you to walk them through your resume? Or in other words, other similar questions could be:

“Tell me about yourself”

“Can you introduce yourself?”

“Why are you here today?”

Look at the final question, which is pretty straight-forward, and it may shine some light to you on the objective of this question category in an investment banking interview. 

Yes, the interviewer wants to know how your SELECTIVE experiences are related to the role you are interviewing for, and it’s time to PITCH  yourself.

“Selective” is definitely not “All”, so don’t cite all your experiences in the way some unsuccessful candidates did – reading out loud all the bullet points in their resume one by one, like a robot. They must have learnt them all by heart at home.

The first lesson: Dude! For an investment banking interview, care about how excellent your story-telling skill is, before any number or technical questions.

Exactly! A good impression in a Superday will come to those who can set a difference between reciting the resume, like a robot, and telling a story that captures the mind of the interviewer.

The structure for “Walk me through your resume” story

ThE BEGINNING

A quick sentence or two about your background, such as where you grew up or your university or business school.

FINANCE “SPARK”

The specific person, event, or experience that drew you to finance or investment banking.

GROWING INTEREST

How you gained relevant skills and work experience over time that prepare you for this job.

WHY you’re here today and your future

Why this firm and group fit your long-term plans perfectly.

“Walk me through your resume” – Point 1: The Beginning

It’s your chance to say something that captures most of the interviewer’s attention – something that he hasn’t heard throughout many previous investment banking interviews.

An “OK” Beginning might be:

“I’m from China originally, but I went to high school in the U.S. and attended Georgetown, where I majored in Math and Economics and joined the Student Investment Fund.”

[Word Count: 29]

But it’s boring because there are tons of international students from China, and the school, major, and activities are all standard.

It’s better to cite more unusual activities, sports, or experiences if you can do so:

“I’m from China originally, but I went to high school in the U.S. and attended Georgetown, where I majored in Math and Economics and studied abroad in Bhutan to research culture and politics.”

[Word Count: 33]

If you have full-time work experience, don’t kill your investment banking interview coming up with a unique angle.

A Beginning like the following is fine if you’ve worked in banking and you’re moving into a new group:

“I grew up outside Chicago, went to Northwestern for undergrad, and majored in Economics and Finance. I did a summer internship in equity capital markets at JP Morgan, and then came back full-time after graduation.”

[Word Count: 35]

“Tell me about yourself” –  Point 2: Finance “Spark”

Specificity is the key to a great Spark.

Here is an example of an “OK” Spark:

“I first got interested in finance when I interned at a consulting group and researched and analyzed clients’ financial statements. I spoke with an MD at an investment bank, Woodstone Partners, and he made me very interested in the industry.”

[Word Count: 40]

This Spark is generic; many people work in consulting and analyze financial statements.

We could add 6 full words to make it better:

“I first got interested in finance when I interned at a non-profit consulting group and analyzed the financial statements of two clients that wanted to merge. I spoke with an MD at an investment bank, Woodstone Partners, and he made me very interested in the industry.”

[Word Count: 46]

If you’re struggling, think about information sessions, case competitions, activities, clubs, professors, family members, summer programs, and your networking efforts.

You could also come up with a retroactive Spark by going back to a textbook in an accounting or finance class, pointing to an example there, and then saying that your class discussion of that example made you interested in the industry.

If you are not an undergrad or recent grad, your Spark can be more low-key:

“I’ve enjoyed my time in ECM, but at the same time, I’ve also gotten interested in working on more complex and varied deals. Since M&A deals tend to be more strategic, they’re often more interesting and challenging to work on. One example is the follow-on offering I worked on for Warbucks, where the company issued shares as part of its plan to consolidate the industry with acquisitions.”

[Word Count: 67]

“Can you introduce yourself?” –  Point 3: Growing Interest

In the Superday, limit yourself to 3 experiences, and group entries together to streamline your pitch. You should explain what you liked about each experience, but also what you wanted to change.

Many students complete on-campus jobs or activities, take an interest in finance, and then become interested in investment banking. You could use this walk-through for that path:

  • “I started out with a few on-campus jobs tutoring younger students in math and accounting, which I enjoyed, but I wanted to gain more real-world experience…”
  •  “…so I went to [Local Company Name] and did marketing there for the summer. I did well, liked the business, and helped them generate 20% more leads over two months, but I also wanted to do something that was more quantitative and closer to finance…”
  •  “…so the next summer I did private wealth management at [Bank Name], analyzed clients’ portfolios, and made investment recommendations. I enjoyed the analysis a lot more, but I also wanted to work with larger-scale clients…”

[Total Word Count: 106]

In each point, this person cites a skill required for investment banking – math/accounting, working with clients, and investment analysis – but also what she wanted to change in each case – real-world exposure, quantitative skills, and bigger clients. And one utterly important thing in every investment banking interview – she does this without introducing negativity.

“Why you’re here today?” – Point 4: Why You’re Here Today and Your Future

For long-time-ago investment banking interviews, you could get away with saying that you weren’t sure of your long-term plans.

But it is not a good idea to express that much uncertainty in interviews today.

Even if you intend to hop into private equity ASAP, you should pretend you’re committed to investment banking regardless of your level (Intern, Analyst, Lateral Hire, Associate, etc.).

The template for this last point is as follows:

“In the long-term, I want to do [FUTURE GOALS], and I see [FIRM/GROUP NAME]    as the best way to get there because of [DEALS, CLIENTS, OPPORTUNITIES, ETC.].

Two examples of this point might be:

  • Example 1: “So I’m here today because I want to combine my telecom background with finance, and eventually become an adviser to companies in the industry. Your group has a great reputation for that, with deals such as [Name a Deal], so joining your firm is the best way for me to get there.”

[Word Count: 52]

  • Example 2: “I’m here today because I want to leverage my wealth management experience and advise larger-scale clients on M&A deals, going back to the [Deal Name] deal that first interested me. Your group is strong in [Geography / Industry], which I follow, and so joining your team is the best way for me to work on those types of deals.”

[Word Count: 59]

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