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GUEST COMMENT: Imperatives for interviews with investment banks

Moving firms, or threatening to do, so is by far the easiest way to receive a major hike in your compensation. Hence, smart interview strategy is a very important means of maximizing your earnings potential. Based on personal experience, personal observation and innate cunning, here’s my advice for playing the interview game in a manner that they (probably) don’t teach you at Harvard Business School:

1) When asked why you want to move, it’s not only OK to say ‘for cash’, but this is the correct answer. If you’re motivated to make money, you will be motivated to make the firm that hires you major profits.

2) Always say you’re happy where you are. Always say you’re moving due to ‘pull’ and not ‘push’ factors. The onus is then on your potential new employer to persuade you to move. They will do this by serious increases in your compensation.

3) Subtly suggest that other firms are looking to hire you during the interview, even if they’re not.

4) Never badmouth your current team / bank. Even in as disloyal a place as the City, this is deemed bad form.

5) If you’ve got a half decent reputation it’s sometimes worth changing the interview around and asking them to convince you to move. This shows confidence and again makes your interviewers feel they have to persuade you to join them.

6) If you even hear mention of the words like ‘long term prospects’ make your excuses and leave. The City is about making hard cash ASAP.

7) When it gets to the talking-money phase, never fall for the trick of saying what you personally expect. Instead, say what you perceive your ‘market value’ to be. If they demand to know what your current salary is, exaggerate it by 10-15% … I always did this and they never checked.

8) Never accept their first offer … say you need to think about it and then call up and say you’ll move for 15%. They are nearly always willing to up it.

9) Make sure you get a guaranteed bonus and a buyout of the equity that you’ve accrued at your previous employer (you’ll inevitably forfeit this by moving).

10) This first move you make in your career should result in a major step up in pay. Double would be good. Anything less than 30% is probably a disaster.

‘Geraint Anderson is the author of Cityboy – Beer and Loathing in the Square Mile.’ You can visit his website here and you can buy his book here.

Comments (30)

  1. Christmas is coming and Geraint needs a stocking filler

  2. This is not good advice – if you exaggerate your current salary they will check and you will get the offer pulled at some point further down the line – this is absolutely guaranteed at any IB/Consultancy firm.

  3. .Why do you continue to give redundant advice? You have been out of the game for too long for anything you say to be valid. Leave us all alone.

    Not everyone is like you. Creatures such as yourself aren’t around in the new landscape.

  4. IS this guy for real?? you are an utter twat! You seem to think you are some sort of big-shot!!haha…try growing up!No firm will be so desperate to bend over backwards for you…there are plenty of people available…and at a guess..I would venture 95% of whom are better than you!

  5. Fish

  6. Junior analyst turned author…. ? Nice…!

  7. Matches can be dangerous, we don’t want to see you getting burnt.

  8. What utter ridiculousness ….

  9. this is probably the stupidest article I have ever read. Can we change the title to say “How Not to Conduct Interviews with Investment Banks”?

  10. Love this guy, always makes me laugh! Some of the advice may be a little extreme but I’ve been working in the City for 7 years and I know he’s talking … some sense. Seeing as he (supposedly) earned millions he can’t be talking total cr*p! Only wish I’d read this when I started!

  11. Lying about your current/last salary might be worth a shot if you are in a job and don’t care whether or not you get the new one. I’m not sure I’d risk it as an unemployed candidate…

  12. Points 1-5 – Cynical but probably true
    Point 6 – Cynical and untrue
    Point 7 – Career suicide – Employers have cottoned on to this and will withdraw offers after seeing your P60 with your true earnings.
    Point 8 – Occasionally true – if your a trader gauranteed to bring in revenue. For the other 99.99% of people – a good way to get an offer withdrawn.
    Point 9 – Stock buyout is a fair point but the days of always moving for a fat guarantee have not returned. Not yet anyway.
    Point 10 – Ridiculous, even if you were merely moving to do the same job for more money. Anyone applying more than three brain cells would understand that they key in making your first move is to look at the role, and judge how it will build your skills, before assessing whether the institution has the platform to support the role.

  13. Some cunning city big-wigs are paying this chump to save them millions in fees and the expense of hiring idiots like him. Take his advice and show yourself in all your retarded egocentric glory to ensure you don’t get a new job!

  14. I work with many equity research guys who made it to his level and I cannot see how he made a huge amount. He was at Dresdner who were mediocre at best and definately not a strong payer.

    That said his advice is awful and only makes sense in strong markets, if you want to ruin chances do what he says.

  15. Good advise, except for 7 and 8.

    7) You can’t risk having the offer withdrawn AFTER you have resigned from you current job.

    8) If the first offer is close enough to what you asked for, just take it! It may not be there for long!

  16. New landscape…..that really is the dumbest thing i have seen and heard…ever…

  17. This really is bad advice to any one currently seeking new roles in the market. As a recruiter for some of the Tier 1 IB’s I have seen many candidates fail at HR rounds by giving the sort of answers he suggest you give in these interviews. If you are good at what you do, managers will see that from your interviews and make you generous offers to secure you, especially as banks are extremely competitive at the moment. Giving answers like this will put them off and make you appear cash hungry – which is NOT always a good thing,

  18. Another anecdote from Citybore, the Jerry Springer of finance… There is an obvious reason you are ‘ex-finance’, and it is not the moral enlightenment you spout! Given you have more in common with Anne Diamond than you do with Bob Diamond, stick to your stories and leave the career advice to the professionals.

  19. It takes some balls to so what Geraint advise, and it seems by the comments from you guys that you are completely at the mercy of your employer. Most of his points are valid, and not only in a bull market. It’s all about how you go about communicating these points in the negociation.
    But if all you do is filling in spreadsheets, then maybe your communication skills are not up for the challenge, and yes, just ignore his advises.

  20. Why is a mediocre ex-City junior-ish em[ployee giving stupid advice?

    Point 1 – may get away with it – but if you are not in front office and have a long career potential there, you are unlikely to be hired – continuity issues.

    Point 6. – Especially if you are going for a senior management position, this is a really stupid answer.

    Point 7. – current salary exaggeration – this guy is out-of-date. Professional checks are done by specialised companies these days. Even if they do not do so and this comes to light, it is a firing offence as you have lied when you are expected to tell the truth and may have to sign off as such. Furthermore, a reputation of integrity will no longer be there.

    Point 8 – guaranteed bonus and a buyout of the equity – which planet are you living on and in which time period? Have you read the recent political climates and government-to-CEO and regulator reports?

    Truly an idiot – makes me wonder how good he was at his job or whether it was just mundane,.

  21. OMG, Think its fair to say ,anything said on this subject by Geraint is passed its ‘sell buy’ date……

  22. To me the advice sounds like common sense. I recently moved into my second role and, while I did not double my salary, I managed to get 75% more, starting from a decent base. With the exception of point 6 (about long term prospects), which did not come up in the conversation, and point 10 (about a guaranteed bonus), of which unfortunately I only thought after I accepted the offer, I applied every single other point. I even got my employer to improve on their first offer. It was only an extra 5k, but then my negotiation was very clumsy. I think that there are many ways one can sell oneself. The above will probably not work for everybody and in every situation, but in my recent experience it did. I do not understand why some people are so offensive towards the author. It is only his opinion. You either agree, disagree or go maybe/depends and, very importantly, back it up.

    common sense girl Reply
  23. Rubbish!!

    Merchant Banker Reply
  24. D.U.I: Definitely Under Influence… (!)

  25. everyone bagging the author is the real junior. Everything he says is true if YOU are good enough.

    For the average performer its clearly not true because there are plenty of other average people that can do your job who won’t follow this advice i.e. all the people bagging the author

  26. Seen a few comments from several eloquent commentators who seem to believe Cityboy was some junior analyst – I was a competitor working in the same sector as him and he actually headed up the 2nd highest ranked team in the utilities sector. He may be a twat but he was a very successful one who, much to my irritation, apparently earned half a mill a year.

  27. As per many of the comments here, my take would be if you are prepared to lie about something like your salary (which is so easy to check and will be at some point), whatever happened to “my word is my bond”?

    Where is your integrity?

    If we all act in this manner, what hope has banking got?

    London would be relegated to fourth world status.

    Am I so old fashioned at 47, or is this utter crass?

  28. point 7, I wonder how the likes of Kroll actually check your previous income ? Does anyone know it for sure ?

    I am asked by my new employer to put on paper my previous earnings, which I am reluctant to.

  29. I know i’m a nobody in the CIty, and even being a piece of sh*t in the eyes of some people out there. if you tried to make me feel insignificant, and i gotta tell you that you’ve succeeded, and you’ve accomplished your self-actualization already. so………are you happy now??

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