Are you interviewing for a graduate scheme or summer internship at an investment bank? Do you aspire to be an 'analyst' or 'summer analyst'. Which questions will you be asked at interview?
Below, we have the definitive guide to investment banking interview questions from the past few years. If you have questions to add, email us at Editor@eFinancialCareers.com, with the words 'Interview Questions' in the subject line.
If I buy new property plant and equipment (PP&E) for $10m ($5m cash and $5m debt), what will happen to the balance sheet and cash flow?
Who will pay more for an acquisition, a strategic buyer or financial, and why?
Why would two companies in the same sector have different P/E ratios (one is lower, other is higher)?
Tell me about yourself?
How do you ensure you meet delivery deadlines?
Have you ever failed to meet delivery deadlines?
What is Sql Server?
What’s the difference between Left Outer Join and Right Outer Join?
Explain 3 features of Object Oriented Programming.
How many footballs would fit into this room?
Why did you choose to pursue a career in banking?
If you were advising a client, would you advise them to short or long shares in our company at the moment?
Why do bubbles not appear when sparkling water is closed?
Why, in this glass do the bubbles in the water sit at the bottom?”
Tell me about your personal morals, what p*sses you off?
What’s 1/7 expressed as a decimal?
There’s a revolver, with two bullets in two chambers that are next to each other, and the rest of the four chambers are empty. The policeman spun the revolver and pulled the trigger at you, nothing happened. Suppose that you don’t want to die, would you prefer the policeman to spin the revolver again before the next shooting or shoot again directly?
Suppose I have a string and cut it into two pieces, what’s the probability that one piece is at least twice as long as the other piece?
So you study mathematics, tell me one the theorem you have learned in Discrete Mathematics [listed in coursework section of CV]?
What is VaR? What are its advantages and disadvantages?
Tell me about Barclays?
Tell me a weakness of yours?
Explain a time where you coped with working in a ‘difficult’ team environment. i.e. where you didn’t get on with members of your team.
Tell me how your previous work experience is beneficial in an investment banking environment.
Tell me about a time when you were required to be a leader.
Are you able to work with people of varying cultures? If so, explain why.
How many lightbulbs are there in the UK?
How would you invest £1,000,000?
I have 45 socks in a drawer; 10 are blue, 15 are red, 20 are yellow. If I blindly pull out one sock at a time, how many attempts are needed to get a pair?
What have you done to prove your leadership skills?
What did the FTSE close at yesterday?
You’ve pitched me a buy stock and a sell stock, so what about a hold?
You say that equities are overpriced and due to collapse soon. How can you say that when that’s my job and what I do for a living, day in day out? I’m telling clients to buy certain stocks, are you saying I’m wrong?
So you’ve never lived out for uni? How would you survive if I sent you to Hamburg for 2 years?
Which daily newspaper do you read? Aside from the FT or WSJ. And why?
What can you do with an orange?
If you were an animal, which one would you be and why?
There is another candidate for the position. Should we interview him and decide who is better or would you prefer we make our hiring decision by flipping a coin?
If you had to re-design an orange- what would it look like?
Do you think China’s economy will continue to liberalise and by how much further?
What is your favourite Microsoft programme and why?
How did you convince a senior member of your team about the effectiveness of an idea you had?
What is the most significant recent development in the investment banking industry?
Tell me about a time when you were under immense pressure.
What do you think will be the emerging trends in consumer banking (yes, someone was asked this in an investment banking interview)?
Tell us about yourself?
Why our bank?
Tell us about your strengths?
Do you have any examples of times when you used your own initiative?
Where do you see yourself in next five years?
I have a cube made up of smaller cubes, 10x10x10. If I dip the whole thing in paint, how many cubes will have no paint on them?
Are you a Keynesian or a monetarist?
I have two frogs and their population doubles in size every second. It takes 60 seconds to fill up a room with frogs. How long does it take to fill up half the room?
How can you get from FCFF to FCFE?
Please create a one pager about a company in one hour.
Your client is a hedge fund that requires you to analyse a certain subsector of the FTSE 100 to identify trading strategies based on volatility. How do you approach the analysis?
How do you construct an exchange traded fund (ETF) and what factors do you take into consideration when you’re doing so?
Do you believe there is a bubble in the bond market?
How would you rate us against our competitors?
Wouldn’t you be better suited to working for another organisation?
What exactly does the word ‘success’ mean to you?
Would you say that you are a trustworthy person?
Do your friends trust you with their secrets?
What types of secrets do they share with you?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Why are man holes round?
Are there enough hours in the day?
What is the square root of 1?
Petrol, or diesel - which is more combustible? Why?
Walk me through an LBO analysis.
What factors can lead to the dilution of EPS in an acquisition?
If you are in a business that wants to preserve cash, what type of inventory accounting method would you use (LIFO or FIFO) in a time of rising prices, and why?
What is Minority Interest and why do we add it in the Enterprise Value formula?
Briefly walk me through a discounted cash flow analysis. (including WACC).
Why can’t you use EV/Earnings or Price/EBITDA as valuation metrics?
Estimate the value of the tie industry in the UK.
What are your best skills? Why would they be applicable?
Discuss a deal you have read about recently.
Who is the most famous and influential person you would like to meet and why?
Why Goldman Sachs?
When you heat a sausage in the microwave, the tear is always lengthwise. Why is that?
How could you set up a recursive function so that a really smart language / compiler could evaluate the function and never run out of memory?
When a firm has a market share of 50% in Germany and 30% in Europe, what is the market share of the firm in Europe without Germany?
You are given 100 million Euro to set up your own bank. Which customer segment would you focus on, and which strategy would you use for that?
Give an example of a time you encountered a difficult question whilst working in a group
What is the biggest risk you have ever taken in your life?
What do you see yourself contributing to this organization, in both the short and long term?
Why are you looking for an internship in Investment Banking?
Why do M&As happen?
What are your 3 main strengths?
What is your greatest weakness?
What motivates you?
You look at the clock. It’s 3.15pm. What’s the angle between the clock hands?
What is the sum of the numbers from one to 100?
What is the expected value of a roll of a dice?
Tell me about your educational background.
Which are the most important/interesting subjects within FX markets at the moment?
If you could pick whichever investment you wanted, were would you put your money today?
What do you think a position within FX Sales would entail?
Should charities be taxed?
You’ve been captain of your sports team and are obviously used to being in charge. How will you feel about being at the bottom of the food chain here?
Do you agree with the private equity model of buying cheap, cutting costs and selling high?
Can you estimate UK GDP?
You’ve have estimated the average salary as £40k. Can you now estimate the largest mortgage an individual can obtain when buying a house. Let’s say the interest rate is 5% on a 20 year mortgage.
Calculate the square root of 69
Name me a company you would invest in and why.
What are three ways of valuing a company?
What’s 456 x 3?
How many weddings are there in Germany in a year?
How tall is the Citypoint building?
Describe yourself in three words.
What is your biggest flaw?
What are the risks associated with owning a bond?
How do you hedge interest rate risk on a bond?
How does liquidity affect the bid-offer spread on a bond?
What is the square root of 135?
Over the phone I was asked: ‘Which is the main CDS index?’
What are the odds of getting two sixes in a row after throwing a fair dice twice?
What would you invest in if your holding period was 1year, 3 years and 10 years?
What’s the most important: Money, honour, or knowledge?
What’s the square root of 341?
Why should we not give you the job?
Which other investment bank, apart from Morgan Stanley, do you like the most and why?
Is political risk in Eastern Europe a serious threat for banks?
Briefly walk through a discounted cash flow analysis (including WACC).
What is the formula for enterprise value?
What is minority interest and why do we add it in the enterprise value formula?
Which will place a higher value on the company, equity comparables (trading comps) or M&A comparables (transaction comps) and why?
A company makes a $100 cash purchase of equipment on Dec. 31. How does this impact the three statements this year and next year?
Tell me how would you value a company? Which are the most used financial tools in this area?
Why cannot we use EV/Earnings or Price/EBITDA as valuation metrics?
What factors can lead to the dilution of EPS in an acquisition?
Why do we subtract cash in the enterprise value formula?
Where do you see yourself after this placement (if you got it) in 5 years’ time?
Name a time you have had to make a tough decision. How did you deal with this?
Name a time you have been entrepreneurial. What did you learn from this?
What is a common ratio used in project finance and how do you calculate it?
Why is the DSCR used and what range do you expect it to be in?
What is the credit rating for high yield?
Why use a project finance structure as opposed to corporate finance?
What the delta of an option when it is at the money (ATM)?
What will happen to the price of the option if there is an increase in interest rates?
What is the price of an option if the volatility tends towards infinity? And what if the expiry date tends towards infinity?
How would you go about valuing a company?
Tell me about some time when you’ve had to overcome adversity?
How far do you see yourself going in the bank?
How do you price options?
If you would have to open an Rep Office, how would you advertise that?
When did you show entrepreneurial spirit?
What are your current views on the economy and investing?