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22 investment banking operations interview questions you need to know

investment banking operations

The term investment banking operations encompasses a broad range of activities that ensure the bank processes and settles its trades. Back office roles have been transferred to ever cheaper locations – think Salt Lake City for Goldman Sachs, Glasgow for Morgan Stanley, Bournemouth for J.P. Morgan – but this doesn’t mean the job is getting any easier.

“In interviews, candidates are increasingly being required to show an understanding of regulation – EMIR and Dodd-Frank in particular,” says Hakan Enver, operations director at Morgan McKinley. “Candidates may be questioned on their existing company’s projects and change management initiatives, as well as their involvement in these.”

Whether you’re in settlements and confirmations, trade support or asset servicing, increasingly operations professionals are quizzed on one thing – efficiency Share on twitter.

“Senior operations professionals need to be able to look at the current processes and make them more efficient than they currently are,” says Mike Hartwell, managing director of recruiters Hartwell Buck. “Technical knowledge is rarely questioned during the interview stage.”

However, the following questions are worth familiarising yourself with if you’re about to step into an investment banking operations interview.

Questions on efficient process:

1. Traders are sending in information in an Excel spreadsheet and emailing them to operations. How can you make the process more efficient?

2. When you need to work with the technology and client service departments in order to implement a software project, what’s your approach?

3. Rank the following: risk management, customer service and experience or efficiency/profitability.

4. How do you respond to tough situations at work where you are under pressure from a time perspective?

5. Tell us about an experience where you made a significant difference in processing.

Questions on career longevity/motivations:

6. Why do you want to work for this bank?

7. Are you going to try and switch into a front office job if you’re offered this job?

8. How can you convince me you’ll stay in this job for over a year?

9. How do you see your career developing over the next 5-10 years?

Technical questions:

10. When you’re required to draw a financial ratio from a complicated dataset but you identify certain flaws in it, what would you do about it?

11. What is equity and how can you leverage it?

12. What is a pivot table?

13. Can you tell us about a time when you had to explain a complex concept in simple terms to a group of individuals? How did you ensure that everyone understood it?

14. Evaluate the credit risk of three companies: a high-tech firm, a pharmaceutical firm, and a major car manufacturer. How would you approach this analysis? What industry-specific factors are important to consider, and what would be your expected timeline/maturity for a loan with each firm if it passes the credit check?

15. If a trader claims to have completed a $100 trade but your system showed only a $95 transaction, will you take the risk and believe the trader? If not, what action do you take?

Problem-solving interview questions:

16. How much does a Boeing 707 weigh?

17. You can change three things about the New York Subway to make it more efficient. What would they be?

18. What is the least number of races needed to work out which of 10 horses is the fastest?

Tests of moral rectitude:

19. Have you ever faced a moral dilemma?

20. How do you deal with people who don’t like you?

21. What is one characteristic you have that would prevent us from hiring you?

22. Describe your course of action after a breach in client confidentiality?

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  1. 18. Is the question worded properly? I came up with 1.

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