Here is a complete guide on how to make the most of the unavoidable Spring Weeks organized in London by the Finance industry!
What to expect from the interviewing process?
The process will usually be centered around questions that are more about ‘fit’ than ‘technical’. This means you are more likely to answer questions about your motivation and personal experiences than ‘What are the three main valuation methods?’, except for a couple of banks in later stages of the recruiting process (for example, second round interviews). If you have a scheduled interview, do not hesitate to reach out to alumni or to the HR team to ask the type of question you should expect.
Fit questions quickly become redundant, which is good for you in the sense that you can actually prepare for them in advance and give a natural delivery with some practice. They are usually about key themes such as teamwork, leadership, integrity, difficult task overcome, multi-tasking… These “competency-based” questions are quite often given in the format of “Tell me about a time you…” and challenge your ability to correctly illustrate an aspect of your personality based on past experiences.
Some other recurring themes are “commercial awareness”, i.e. questions about what is going on in the markets today, recent news surrounding regulation or politics for instance. To prepare for this, try to keep up to date with different newspapers (FT, The Economist…) or follow the “Insights” page of a couple banks or financial institutions: for example, Morgan Stanley and Bloomberg offer concise articles about recent topics you are expected to talk about clearly in interviews. And don’t forget to have a look at the “Recent events” page of the bank you are interviewing with before receiving that dreaded phone call.
You could also have a case study to solve, but as this is “only” a spring week, you will most likely be thoroughly guided by your interviewer who only expects you to demonstrate solid analytics skills and the ability to clearly defend your views. You can find some examples of case studies based on real-life events on the webpage of the bank that interests you quite easily, and reading a couple excerpts is a good way to get a general feel of what is to come.
Video interview: A fair warning
You might have to complete a video interview instead of a regular phone or face-to-face interview after you successfully pass the screening process. I decided to mention this as more and more firms are now relying on this for their Spring Week recruiting, and that trend is not likely to disappear anytime soon.
The spirit of the task, in this case, is the same, but there are a couple points you should be aware of. The most difficult aspect is, to be quite honest, how awkward it all is: it is quite hard to come off as spontaneous and generally likable when the only thing you can look at is how your own face looks like on camera (and yes HireVue interviews are not known for flattering angles). But I would personally say the most complicated aspect is getting the timing right, as most questions are strictly timed (x seconds to read the question and think of something-anything- to say; y seconds to deliver a strong impactful answer).
The only way to overcome this is… to practice. There is nothing ground-breaking about this, but it is the truth. Film yourself (preferably on the laptop you’ll use for the real thing) answering two or three questions you’re sure to get (Why bank X? Why our Spring?) and study the footage. The bravest souls can even ask a friend to have a professional unbiased look at it, and if you can survive the outcome of that particular roast session relatively unscathed you know you’re ready to face anything, even a “Describe a scene from your favorite movie in 10 words or less” thrown at you at the very end.
In the last part of this mini-series, you’ll get a list of tips to help nudge you in the right direction, so stay tuned.