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Tricky interview question: You are made MD. How would you increase your team’s revenue?

The question

This question was asked during an interview for a sales associate position in cash management and trade at an investment bank: You are now the MD of the cash management team, how would you increase our revenue and growth ?

The candidate’s reply

I felt a lot of pressure and thought: “How can I be answering this question when I am applying for an associate position? If I knew the answer then I would be the MD and I would be giving you the grilling!”

I couldn’t think of anything to answer and was silent for what felt like an eternity while I tried to get my brain in gear, but all I could think of was, “why are you asking me this? I’m not the MD”.

Finally I answered by basically repeating the same answer I had given to a previous question about improving products and services. But my attempt to make it sound more ‘strategic’ just came across as incoherent mumbling. The interviewer stopped me short as he could see I was struggling. I didn’t get the job.

How he would have responded in hindsight

I believe the question was designed to test how I cope under pressure, and to assess my logical thinking and leadership skills. I shouldn’t have been so specific and should have related my answer to the fundamentals of any sales job where the goal is to increase revenue and grow the business.

I should have mentioned laying out areas for improvement, such as operations, customer service, new products, increased sales targets etc. This would have shown a clear, logical approach, suitable for any industry.

How would YOU have answered?

Use the comments box below to suggest a better response to the interview question above.

Comments (2)

  1. Question is ridiculous. Answer should include laying out areas for improvement as you mentioned, but would depend on the team’s client portfolio, team members and their strengths/weaknesses, company politics in terms of getting what you need/want for your team, and overall market conditions (just to name a few things). You wouldn’t be able to answer these questions unless you were in fact already in the firm on the team.

  2. they’re not looking for numbers and percentages here, just a general growth strategy. if you can’t comment on that – you shouldn’t get the job

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